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Be Positive!

by Bill Vossler

Itís time for a an attitude check. Try these ways to boost your attitude and your outlook on life!

 We’d just lost the big basketball game that would’ve propelled us into the regional championship and earned us a trip to the state tournament. On the long bus ride home most of my teammates pretended to sleep, wore earphones, or stared listlessly out the bus’s dark windows. The coach from the year before had taught us the proper way to act after losing a game—except for two of my teammates.

Both were senior starters. Their high school careers over, they’d just lost the biggest game of their lives. Yet they sat in the back seat of the bus laughing uproariously. Players up front glared at Darien and David. I looked at those two guys too.
How could people react so differently to the same event? Actually, the Bible shows these differences have occurred for thousands of years. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and John 11:45 says: “Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him” (NKJV).1 But not the Pharisees. Their reactions could not have been more different. As John 11:53 says: “Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death” (NKJV).
Missing two free throws in the final second of the big game wasn’t life or death. But if anybody should have been sad and depressed, it was David, who took the shots. But he wasn’t.
Later I talked to David and Darien. David shrugged as he told me, “I’m not glad we lost, but I tried my best. I can’t change what happened. And there’s still life to be lived—life outside basketball.”
Darien added, “I’m a positive person. There will always be setbacks. But most of them aren’t permanent.”
Darien and David have this in common: they’re Christians. Christianity doesn’t automatically make you a positive person, but it can help. Romans 8:6 says: “To be spiritually minded is life and peace” (NKJV).
There are even strategies that you can learn that will help you be a more positive person. So if you’d like to be a happier, upbeat, positive person, try following these suggestions:
Decide to be positive. Some people have plenty of things to complain about—and they do, because they get a payback from it: sympathy, extra attention from friends, etc. Try following Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without complaining” (NIV).2 Actually, you have to decide that you want to be a positive person.
List the positive things in your life. Your parents, your pastor, your friends, your pets, your school, your talents, your Bible, living in the U.S.—you potentially have hundreds of things to put on a list of positive things about your life.
Emphasize the positive things about yourself. Every summer day that you go outside, you can choose to look at the sun for 20 minutes and blind yourself for hours (or worse), but you don’t. Even though the sun is always up in the sky, you don’t choose the negative part of the sun—its power to blind you. You choose its positive parts—its warmth, its brightness.
That’s what you need to do with yourself: choose to look at the positive aspects of yourself. Minimize the parts about yourself that you don’t like. Maximize the parts you do; for example, your friendliness, your leadership, your care for others.
Think about the times when people seem most comfortable with you. When do they seem to like you best? What do you like best about yourself?
If the answer is your enthusiasm, bring it to the foreground. If it’s the ability to figure out a problem, practice that. If it’s the ability to talk to anybody, work on that. Practice will make you more positive.
Look for positive things in others. It’s easy to criticize other people, yet you don’t know what their lives are really like unless you walk in their shoes. So instead of concentrating on Shawn’s gossiping, look at how he’s willing to give his time to help others. Instead of thinking that Emily’s stuck up, concentrate on how well she dresses and plays the piano. The point of doing this is to discover positive things that you can  learn from other people—even people you don’t like.
Borrow positive traits from others. If you like how Morgan meets everybody’s eyes when she smiles, practice it. If you like how Jacob walks, practice it. If you like how gentle Thom is, work on being gentle.
Compliment others. There’s no way to become popular more quickly than to honestly compliment people. Not in a breathy, high-pitched voice that implies insincerity, but in an earthy straightforward tone say, “I’ve always admired how easily you speak up in class,” “You’re really intelligent,” or “Have you noticed how everyone listens when you talk?”
And here’s a challenge: instead of repeating gossip, repeat a compliment. Tell your friend that a teacher said she has the nicest disposition. Tell your pastor that another student thought his sermon was fascinating.
Becoming positive and staying that way isn’t easy, of course. Generally, nothing worthwhile comes easily. You won’t become a positive person overnight, and there will be times when your attitude will slip. The difference will be that  you’ll always know you can climb out of the pit any time you choose to.
What are the rewards of being positive? Your friends and family will like you better. Your life will be happier and more fun. You’ll have more friends. And if you’re a Christian to boot, people will look at you, as they did Darien and David, and notice how being positive and being a Christian go hand in hand.
1Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright  1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. 
Bill Vossler writes from Rockville, Minnesota.

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