Would the people closest to you describe you as a glass half full or half empty kind of person? If you put a large dot on a white piece of paper – would you see the dot or all the white space? Let’s be honest, some of you have had life beat you down. It is easy to become pessimistic and cynical. You feel entitled to have a view that people are awful and the sky is falling. The problem is this attitude will consume you. It does impact your emotional health and can hurt your physical health. Your relationships become strained, and you wonder why. Is it possible to learn to change your negative attitude?
Who Is Speaking Truth to You?
If you tend to be a pessimist, I know how you feel because I became this same person. Due to a variety of circumstances I won’t discuss here, I found myself becoming cynical and negative about almost everything. I’m so grateful for the reality check my wife, Shannon gave to me. One day, she just looked at me and said “You are always negative and it needs to change.”
Who is your truth-teller? Who is the person who has permission to help you see your blind spots and call you out on it? Part of learning to change your negativity is having someone who helps you to know the attitude you are carrying.
Acknowledge Your Sin
My mom’s favourite Bible verse is Philippians 4:8. The apostle Paul commands us to dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, anything worthy of praise, or being commended. I forgot this verse. After Shannon challenged me, God brought this verse back to my mind.
For those of us who are having problems with negative attitudes, the attitude is the fruit of what your mind is dwelling on. The sin is being disobedient to where we are told to focus our thoughts. Ask God to forgive you for your failure to focus on what is good and right.
Begin a Gratitude Journal
There are different ways of doing this, but here is what I have been doing.
At the end of each day, there is one habit I have been forming before I go to bed. I have a journal (in my case it is electronic and on my phone). I take time to reflect on my day, and I identify at least three things I am grateful to God for from the day that was just completed. This means I go to sleep each night with gratitude on my mind instead of all the other negative thoughts.
Final Word – Keep Going
No, I have not entirely stopped being negative. But I have a much better outlook on life, and you can as well. You can learn to change your negative attitude. I have noticed my perspective under challenging situations has changed. I have become more content, and my trust in God to be at work in every situation has become stronger.
Forming the habit of gratitude will change your overall attitude and all other parts of your life. My recent podcast conversation with Drew Dyck about developing self-control has also been significant in helping me form the habit of gratitude.
I know this is going to be a continued area for growth in my own life, but I’m grateful (see what I did there) that God has shown me this and the Bible is showing us how to change. Because of all of this, we can keep going in learning to be grateful people – even in the moments when we may falter back to being negative.