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Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude improves attitude’

 

 

Each spring, as the outdoor temperatures finally climb to comfortable levels, we can hardly resist opening wide the windows to allow fresh breezes and full sunshine into our homes.

We breathe deep the pure air and revel in the bright light–until we notice the smudges, dirt, and grime, undetected during the dim days of winter.  Suddenly we’re overtaken by the urge to polish the windows, Swiffer baseboards, reorganize closets, and capture dust bunnies under the beds. We embark on spring cleaning, full sweep ahead!

 

 

Any concerns of how to clean in the fastest, easiest ways can be researched online.   And even the APP Store can help. BrightNest offers organizing and cleaning tips, a personalized cleaning schedule, and reminders. Chore Monster will get the kids to help (so they say).

I can’t speak for you, but there’s another area in my life that needs cleaning. In addition to the dusting, scrubbing, and polishing throughout our home, a little spring-cleaning of my mind will be beneficial, to remove any melancholy, anxiety, fear, and other muck from my thoughts. There’s an A.P.P. for that, too:

A is for APPRECIATION. Nothing wipes away the grime of doldrums like gratitude, because gratitude leads to joy.

 

 

“What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,

to sing an anthem to you, the High God!

You make me so happy, God.

I saw your work and I shouted for joy.

How magnificent your work, God!”

–Psalm 92:1, 4 MSG

 

P is for PRAYER. Sweep up the swirling dust bunnies of worry with statements of trust, based on God’s reliable promises:

  • He will never leave us to struggle through trouble on our own (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • He will always provide what we need (Matthew 6:25-27).
  • He is a God of infinite power and might, ruling over all people and all circumstances (Psalm 103:19)
  • He is a God of goodness and righteousness, love and compassion, grace and mercy (Psalm 145:7-9).

 

 

P is also for PRAISE.  Polish every day with worship, commending God for who he is and what he has done.

 

“To worship is to…purge the imagination by the beauty of God.”

–William Temple (1881-1944), Bishop of the Church of England

 

 

Notice this A.P.P. of Appreciation, Prayer, and Praise, is all about words that don’t even have to be spoken out loud. Is it really possible that mere words can cleanse away hurtful or disturbing thoughts?

Yes! Words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21). Even self-talk wields great influence, because thoughts produce emotions, emotions produce attitudes, and attitudes produce behavior.

For example:

  • Thoughts of Appreciation, Prayer, and Praise create a clean, positive atmosphere in our spirits.
  • That atmosphere allows the emotions of peace, joy, and contentment to shine.
  • From a contented heart come the positive behaviors of cheerfulness, perseverance, faith, and strength—to name a few.

But just as some spring-cleaning tasks require extra effort, ridding our minds of negative self-talk often requires extra effort as well. Our thoughts too easily get mired in complaining, anxiety, and fear.

 

 

How do we redirect our thinking? We take our negative thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), trapping them like dust flecks in a Swiffer! Then we use our A.P.P (as described above) to add the luster of positivity.

There’s nothing like a good spring-cleaning to increase the pleasure we experience in our homes. And there’s nothing like a good cleansing of the mind to bring supreme pleasure to life.

 

 

“The Lord is a sun and shield;

The Lord bestows favor and honor;

No good thing does he withhold

From those whose walk is blameless.

O Lord Almighty,

Blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

–Psalm 84:11-12 NIV

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.ourdailyblossom.com; http://www.pinterest (2).

 

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“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of,” said the wealthy, well-known actor.

Of course, I thought. He’s loving the high life—for now—and maybe feels guilty that 97% of humanity will never live the dream he’s privileged to enjoy.

But what he said next shocked me.

They should do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.”

Who made that startling statement? A man just about everybody in America recognizes on sight: Jim Carrey.

I wonder if Jim knew how close he came to echoing the words of King Solomon?

 

 

(“When I surveyed all that my hands had done

and what I had toiled to achieve,

everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;

nothing was gained under the sun”–Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV.)

 

From ancient times to today, man has strived to find happiness by obtaining the next desired possession, experiencing the next enticing adventure, or pursuing the next enthralling relationship—even though any success is short-lived.

When will we learn?

Contentment results when we:

Want what we have.

 

(“The things you take for granted someone else is praying for.”

— Anonymous)

 

When our children were eight, eleven, and thirteen, my pastor-husband was appointed to a church in an area of South Florida known for its golf courses, beaches, and wealth.

That last characteristic was most challenging for our children. Many of their classmates arrived at school in expensive cars. They wore clothing with exclusive labels, owned all the latest gadgets, and traveled to exotic locations.

Though Eric, Heather, and Jeremy could see that consumerism did not guarantee happiness, they still struggled with the inequity.

The younger two, Jeremy and Heather, were thirteen and sixteen when they joined a crew of teens and sponsors for a one-week trip to the Dominican Republic.  Their responsibilities included painting at an orphanage and interacting with the children.

The next summer they repeated the trip. And as a result of witnessing true poverty, their outlook on life was dramatically transformed.

 

(Heather is the blonde on the left, in case you weren’t sure!)

 

Months later, Heather and I were riding together in our van and stopped at a red light. We weren’t even talking about those weeks spent at the orphanage. But a decked out sports car pulled up next to us and after a pause, Heather wistfully said, “The cost of that car would feed so many people in the Dominican.”

Such a dramatic shift of perspective had occurred in her heart.  Jeremy’s too.

However, over time contentment easily fades. We must:

Find the positives of each day.

I’ve started a new section in my quiet time notebook:  “A Celebration of Small Things.”  Maybe you’d like to join me?  Each evening I’m recording at least one thing that gives me a sense of contentment. The first entry on Monday was daffodils.

 

 

You see, last week a bitter cold snap here in Ohio ruined much of the early spring flora. Even the hardy daffodils lay bowed over to the ground.

However, they were not defeated! When the temperature rose above freezing again, most of their floral stems stood tall once more. Fluted cups remained open and delicately ruffled; petals fanned outward with only a slight curl at the tips.

I’m so very grateful a soupçon of spring has survived.

 

(“Sweet are the thoughts that savor of content.

The quiet mind is richer than a crown.”

– Robert Greene, English author, 1558-1592)

 

I’m discovering Robert Greene was right. Sweet thoughts do produce the treasure of a quiet mind.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

What a delight, Father, to give you thanks and praise for your abundant gifts—the beautiful, the pleasant, the heart-warming, the humorous. Every day is filled with blessing because of your love, compassion, and faithfulness.  My heart overflows with gratitude as I contemplate your goodness!

 

(Psalm 9:1-2, 103:8; Colossians 2:6-7)

 

 

What small thing causes your heart to overflow with thankfulness?  Share your choice in the comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.flickr.com; http://www.slideshare.net; http://www.truevined.com; Nancy Ruegg (2); http://www.oldquotes.com; Myra Johnson at http://www.picturemythoughts.com.)

 

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(“On the day I called, you answered me;

my strength of soul you increased.”

Psalm 138:3, ESV)

For long stretches of time, life can roll along quite satisfactorily. The kids are healthy and doing well in school. Bills are paid on time. The house and cars are holding together with no major repairs required.

Stone_mold

And then suddenly, we hit a stone wall. The promotion goes to someone else.   The company requires a move across the country. An addiction is disclosed. A life-threatening prognosis is delivered.

Pow.   We’re broadsided by disappointment, fear, and pain.

For a few moments we’re frozen in disbelief.

We grieve.

And that’s to be expected.   These are normal reactions.

What we want to avoid is parking at the stone wall, allowing it to consume our thoughts and prohibit forward movement.

That’s much easier said than done, right? That wall of trouble looms over us–thick, tall, and menacing. It’s not like we want to meditate on it; the ugly thing demands attention.

But, oh, praise God, he can tear down walls! (Remember Jericho?)

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(“Your ways, O God, are holy.

What god is so great as our God?

You are the God who performs miracles;

You display your power among the peoples.”

–Psalm 77:13-14)

We can also defy the enemy who built the wall. Satan, the father of all strife (1 John 5:19), is the one with whom we must battle.

How? There are a number of worthy tactics, but let’s focus on three:

  1. Put on Christ and be strengthened (Romans 13:14). He is our:

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  1. Sing or recite scripture and be revived (Psalm 119:25b).

Start writing down every verse that applies to your situation, and read through them frequently.  Fellow blogger, Bev Rihtarchik (over at Walking Well with God) chooses one meaningful verse, and copies it on a slip of paper to carry in her pocket. When worry comes to call, out comes the verse—truth, in black and white.  Now there’s a surefire way to boost our faith!

  1. Count your blessings and be encouraged.

Yes, it’s an old cliché, but naming God’s benefits is soothing balm to the soul.

Several years ago, I struggled through a particularly challenging year, giving me the opportunity to practice the disciplines of forgiveness, perseverance, renewing the mind, and more.

I continued to keep my blessings journal, more eager than ever to notice the evidence of God at work around me.

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On December 31, I tallied the entries. Imagine my astonishment to count twenty more than any other year to that point, and I’d been keeping that journal over twenty-five years.

God had indeed been at work.  but if I not been recording the evidence, I surely would have missed the generous extent of his blessing.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, how I praise you, Heavenly Father, that you are in control. I can move on from that stone wall–strengthened by you, led by you, and encouraged by you. Help me to see the unseen steps ahead as an adventure with you, and fill my heart with your hope. You are my Rock whose works are perfect; all your ways are just. You are a faithful God who does no wrong (Deuteronomy 32:4). I cannot praise you enough!

(Photo credits:  www.vesselforchrist.tumblr.com; http://www.survivingtoxicmold.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2), http://www.web.md.com.)

How do you fight the battle against discouragement, fear, and hurt?  Please share with us in the comment section below!

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