We live in a new age. Everyone is an expert. Seemingly new ideas and philosophies are wowing those with improper upbringing and lack of a fundamental value system, common decency, common sense, and experience. So when a “new” idea comes along many takers jump on board.
Take for instance the idea of living a “positive” lifestyle. “I’m no longer going to let negativity into my life.” is the modern cry. But I have noticed that many of the people who voice this stance are often perpetrating more negativity than they realize. Because I think many times there is a misunderstanding about the true nature of positivity. For what is true positivity? Is it living a care-free life void of conflict or distraction from their goals? Really?
I have a few ideas on the subject, and I’ve laid them out here in: “What Positivity Isn’t” and What Positivity Is.” Tell me if you can get down with this, if you can get on board, if you can pick up what I am putting down. 🙂
What Positivity Isn’t:
- A lack of true peace, contentment and inner joy, no matter what is going on around us.
- The need to avoid conflict at all costs.
- A refusal to look deep into one’s soul to examine if I may have contributed to a problem when dealing with relational issues.
- The need of drugs or alcohol to achieve a calm and restful state of being.
- Living from Monday to Friday without any greater goal than looking forward to the weekend so that I may party with my “friends.” Positivity is not getting drunk or high every Saturday night. That is a temporary ‘happiness’ that leaves one empty, yet again, the next day.
- Having no concept of/or taking no responsibility for/ putting true effort into making relationships work. Fruitful and rewarding relationships take effort. An extreme amount of effort from both parties.
- Hanging on to my possessions and my perceived freedoms at all costs
- Not taking responsibility for my actions.
- Positivity isn’t only to talk about subjects that make me feel happy or upbeat. Or to only hang around people who are seemingly only happy or upbeat. (“He [Jesus] was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” -Isa 53:3) Why was Jesus like this? Ask yourself why was C.S. Lewis or Bob Dylan like this? All for the same reason. They contemplated the deep things of life, didn’t shy away from them, avoid them, or let them go. They contemplated pain and suffering, and they tried to do something about it. They always strove to go deeper, harder, stronger, longer. They were, in fact, the real deal.
Does that mean they did not have inner joy? Of course not. I know for sure that all had serious inner joy. For knowing all things as Jesus did, and not being afraid to contemplate all things, as Dylan & C.S. Lewis did are what brings about ultimate peace. For if we do not search, then how can we ever arrive at the answers?
- Positivity is not avoiding people who encourage you to be a better person and steer you toward better behaviors.
- Positivity will not give in to the temptation of pride.
What Positivity Is:
- Genuine peace, joy and contentment that can only come from a relationship with, trust in, and an understanding of Jesus Christ and what He desires for our life.
- Living an honest life. Foremost being honest with oneself and before one’s God (“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” -Psa 139:23)
- Tarrying with my brother or sister, hearing their concerns and bearing their burdens with much forbearance and kindness. (“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” – Gal 6:2).
- Learning to be content with a few good friends in whose hearts you can trust, instead of the false validation of many friends whose hearts are not with you.
- Does not avoid conflict, but deals with conflict head on as one who is courageous and one who is kind- who does not seek his/her own comfort. Realizing that without conflict no relationship will ever delve beneath the surface and become great or beautiful or truly comfortable. This is true in our adult relationships and is especially true when raising our growing children.
- Positivity is gentleness and patience in attitude and manner. (Kathleen, especially, needs to work on this when she feels hurt from others)
- Is knowing your own worth no matter what anyone else tries to tell you that you are, or you are not. God says you were uniquely and wonderfully made!
- Deals with sin head on and honestly.
- A positive person will not consider themselves as entitled or elite, but humbles oneself and avails oneself to service in the kingdom. Whatever it takes. Whatever the Lord requires at any given moment in order to build relationships, in order to mentor, or in order to build the kingdom.
- Is not selfish with their things or their time.
- Is not a respecter of persons.
- Positivity is content with being alone when it is required.
- It knows oneself and owns up to the good and the bad in oneself. Works on oneself and gives oneself a break at the same time. But more than that, knows one’s Savior and knows Who holds the entire universe, and everything that goes on in it, in the palm of His hand. And rests in that at all times, even when there is no one else standing beside you in the whole world. That is positivity at its finest.
- Positivity is spending joyful hours with children and the elderly.
- Positivity is giving to the poor and spending time with them. Realizing their value and their worth. (“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”- James 2:5)
- Positivity is loving at all times in word and in action.
So maybe it is time to re-think the positive lifestyle. Maybe it is time to dig a little deeper. I guarantee that if you do, you will smile even in whatever darkness the world might throw your way. And then the, “I’m no longer going to let negativity into my life” becomes a very big job indeed. But you will be on the right track and you will see great success.