January 5, 2016

Top Examples of Positive Thinking

“You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Do you have a naturally sunny disposition? Do you relate to the image above? Do you see the rain but focus on the rainbow that will come later? If so, I congratulate you. That kind of mindset certainly does not come naturally to everyone. For some us, negativity is the default emotion.

That’s especially true in those situations in which many things are going wrong at once. It’s the “When it rains, it pours” syndrome. Here’s an example:
  • The car breaks down.
  • The dishwasher stops working.
  • That important project takes longer than expected.
  • At least one of the kids brings home inferior grades.
  • A nasty virus runs through every family member.


She is a close friend I’ve known since college. To me, she always seemed to be successful and happy. I saw it as one of those perfect children, perfect marriage, perfect health, and perfect job situations. Her reality seemed to be a universe away from my constantly broken body and broken world. I felt inferior. Let’s face it; I have envied her forever.

I recently learned an amazing truth: Jenny’s life hasn’t been flawless. She has merely chosen to focus on the positive. I knew that her husband, Cliff, had a debilitating, painful chronic illness. It’s the type of disease that gets progressively worse, and there’s not much a person can do about it. Nevertheless, my friend rarely discussed it. In her e-mails and Christmas newsletters, she focuses only on family victories.

In her last e-mail, she honored me by finally opening up. I learned that the illness of Cliff was much harder to handle than I could comprehend. He got so overwhelmed that he started self-medicating. In this manner, an addiction was born. His church membership was in jeopardy. Also, he could no longer handle his supremely stressful job.

Cliff had to make some immediate changes. His health and sanity were at stake. He was forced to take many steps back, get off the treadmill of his overburdened life, and begin again. It’s a long road, but this strong man is willing to go the distance. What an inspiration to us all!


He is Jenny and Cliff’s son. He is currently serving as a missionary. As many of us, he often has self-doubts. Henry can’t help but compare himself to “more successful” missionaries who baptize more people, for instance. It’s a melancholy way to think.

On the other hand, he also knows that our mindset is always a choice. We don’t have to be ruled by our circumstances. This message was inspirational and timely for me. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear it. Jenny has kindly given me permission to share his thoughts:

“One of our biggest duties…is to be happy…The word ‘gospel’ literally means ‘the good news’. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.’ So why not choose to be happy? We have every reason to be happy. There was a long time on my mission where I felt unhappy. I was depressed, unsatisfied, and feeling very unsuccessful. I felt that if only this, or if only that would change, then everything would be alright.”
“Too many times in my life I have caught myself saying that ‘If only…’. The Lord has helped me to find Happiness, and that was simply through choosing to be happy. It’s a daily choice, but I can say that it has made all the difference. My Aunt told me before I came out, if you aren’t having fun, then you aren’t doing it right.” (emphasis mine)
My Conclusion
There is always something negative going on somewhere. In many cases, we seem to be drowning in circumstances that drag us down. Upon closer inspection, that isn’t always the case. While we may struggle with ¾ of our life, there’s always the ¼ of it that’s heading in the right direction. The challenge is to identify and embrace the optimistic side of what is otherwise overwhelming darkness.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Are you seeing rainbows or clouds?

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