Happiness is not a vacation spot. It’s a state where everyone has the opportunity to reside permanently. The state of happiness is analogous to the governed geographical territories where most of us live. And, just like you can go to different localities within a state, you can experience various areas of happiness.
To make this analogy clearer, I’ll use the state of Ohio as an example. Ohio is an integral part of a large group of states, each with its own border, but united to form a great nation. As a result, people from other states can choose to live, work, visit, or vacation in any of Ohio’s different areas. These localities include cities, towns, villages, rural areas, and bodies of water. You can travel to any of these places by various modes of transportation. But, no matter what vicinity you go to, you’re still in the state of Ohio – unless you cross its border.
Areas Within Happiness
Happiness is also integral to something grander – an infinite realm. Similarly, happiness consists of different areas: joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. A unique aspect of this state is that you can be in more than one area at a time. So, for example, you may not be joyful in a particular situation, but you can still be at peace and content.
Happiness is More Than a Vacation Spot
Happiness is not a vacation spot or place to visit. It is a state where God wants everyone to live. But more people need to reside there. Instead, many view it as a reprieve from their chaotic lives. They want to be there, but don’t know where it is, don’t have good directions, or don’t use the proper transportation.
Even though we express our happiness through physical actions, it is rooted in in our spirit – our hearts, minds, and souls. Happy people have a joyful heart, peaceful mind, and loving soul.
Direction to Happiness
It’s not always easy to find happiness, especially if you didn’t develop a good guidance system. The most direct route to happiness is gratitude. When you are grateful, you acknowledge that you have something good. And having something good brings joy, satisfaction, contentment, and love to the recipient and the giver.
Transport Yourself to Happiness with Fruits
Unlike physical transportation you would use in Ohio, transit in the state of happiness is spiritual. You reach joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment via obedience, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (the fruits of the Holy Spirit). Additionally, you must follow certain travel laws to ensure secure and complete happiness. These world-wide rules are Honesty, Empathy, Accountability, Respect, and Trust (HEART).
Happiness’s Invisible Border
When we travel from state to state we cross borders. Most states have multiple borders, but happiness has only one. Its border separates happiness from unhappiness. Moreover, this border is often difficult to discern. There are no visible lines or “Welcome to…” signs that define one state from the other.
The invisible border surrounding happiness is a powerful force that impacts everyone who encounters it. This border is absolute Truth. And like any border, people can breach, disregard, or willingly cross it. People breach and ignore happiness’s boundaries when they overlook, subdue, diminish, bend, redefine, or deny the Truth. Those who willingly cross the border do so because they feel like it. They feel they need to get revenge, control things, worry, or take care of other people’s problems. In addition, many people often feel an impulsive need to indulge the corporeal desires of others or themselves. Unfortunately, the people who cross happiness’s border don’t think about where they are going, how they are getting there, and who they are affecting. As a result, a single border crosser can negatively impact thousands of people.
The State of Unhappiness
Once you cross happiness’s border, you are left in a state of unhappiness because crossing the border means passing over the Truth. Therefore, the Truth does not exist in unhappiness. Furthermore, overpowering the Truth and the excitement of seizing your desires gives you a sense of authority. This self-acquired authority in the absence of Truth gives you the power to create your own Truth.
Relative Truth is Not True
Individually created truths are merely self-made declarations based on the opinions, feelings, beliefs, desires, and preferences of the person who makes them. Therefore, individual Truth relates only to the person who declares it. And this makes that truth relative.
We know that Truth cannot oppose itself. Therefore, if your relative Truth opposes my relative Truth, there is no truth. When Truth is absent, confusion and conflict take over leaving unhappiness’s border open and unlimited.
Unhappiness is Our Nature
It’s easy to slip through unhappiness’s open border. In fact, the emotions of unhappiness are familiar and come easy because we are born there. Have you ever seen a baby at birth smiling and enjoying his/her entrance into the world? We are born with instincts to survive, not thoughts for living happily. Therefore, we must learn how to be happy. And that knowledge must be accurate. Unless we know the Truth, we will continue to live the way we were born – in the natural world of survival, where we constantly experience fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt.
Unhappiness Causes Severe Illnesses
The feelings people experience in unhappiness generate more severe physical, emotional, and social illnesses. Heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, loneliness, and anxiety are some physical and emotional illnesses. Abortion, addiction, random killings, lawlessness, and fragmented families are just a few social issues that result from many people living in the chaos and limitlessness of unhappiness. There is no safety and security here.
The Truth Keeps You Safe and Secure
In the realm of happiness, the Truth keeps you safe and secure. There cannot be relative Truth for happiness. But Truth is relative to happiness. The more you live the Truth, the happier you will be.
We Have What We Need to Live Happily
God didn’t create us to briefly visit joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. Instead, he wants us to live happily now as a prelude to what is beyond this world. Despite the fact that we live in a world where our nature keeps us unhappy, God has given us everything we need to live in the state of happiness in this world. He has given us thinking brains so we can be consciously aware of our attitudes and behaviors, but more so that we can know Him. To know God is to know love.
Absolute Truth Makes Us Free
Moreover, our ability to think allows us to be grateful, obedient, tolerant, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and disciplined – to practice the good fruits of the spirit. As a result, they provide us and others with joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. Most of all, God has given us absolute Truth in His word and His son. Absolute Truth makes us free which keeps us happy.
Following Leads You to Happiness
How do we find our way to happiness? Jesus said to his confused and conflicted disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” “Follow me.”
Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy, “Take hold of the eternal life.” (1Timothy 11-19) He’s telling us that to be truly happy we must start at the end. We must focus on our ultimate goal, our end game, or in other words, our final destination. The choice is simple – eternal joy (Heaven) or eternal misery (Hell). I won’t help you seek eternal torment. So, let’s look at achieving lasting happiness. See how to take hold of happiness and spread the Word!
Most of us are taught it’s better to give than take, butl at certain times taking is beneficial. For example, when you take medicine, take a trip, or take a rest, you enjoy better outcomes. Unfortunately, however, many in our society are taking the kinds of things that yield adverse results. We take advantage, take offense, take unearned money, take what doesn’t belong to us, and take things and people for granted. This self-focused way of taking results in fear, anger, and contempt, which cause anxiety and depression. It leaves a void of trust, satisfaction, peace, and joy.
Anxiety and Depression at All-Time Highs
Anxiety and depression have reached extraordinarily high rates among all age groups. Even taking a pill isn’t relieving the pressure. Indeed, there is no one answer to today’s enormous mood swings. But, the one indisputable fact is our loss of focus on the very reason we are here – God and His Word. We’ve taken God out of all facets of our society and our everyday lives. There is no longer a reverential fear of God. And, because of that, there is no reverential fear of parents or authority. “God” is used so much in our vernacular that we’ve diluted His importance. We’ve made God an adjective and an expression. The digital realm has abbreviated him as simply, “OMG.”
If there is no God, there is no truth, and if there is no truth, there is no happiness. There is only pleasure – the kind of pleasure that gives people relief from the anxiety and depression of a Godless existence. This pleasure may be sensual pleasure, risky behaviors, gluttony, acquiring material goods and power, or altering one’s reality through deception.
When you constantly seek pleasure instead of the truth, you lose sight of reality. Therefore, you don’t develop the skills to manage real-life situations, such as illness, loss, disappointment, and death. In addition, you don’t learn how to recognize all the good things in life and fail to develop an appreciation for all the gifts you and other people have.
When You Can’t Manage Reality, Other People Will
So, what happens when you can’t manage reality? Other people manage it for you. But, unless they have a reverential fear of God, these people will not do what’s in your best interest. They will make you believe what they say is the truth and they will not help you gain independence. Instead, you will be led by fear or pushed by fantasy. Accordingly, you’ll be blinded to the fact that bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people, and everyone dies.
We all die. However, if you don’t think or believe in eternal life, you will live your physical life in fear and dread. You will continue to push God away and run from the truth that death is a part of life and that physical death takes gives us up to a spiritual eternal life with the King of the Universe.
Take Part in the Truth
Paul tells us to be truly happy, we must take hold of eternal life and start there. We must commit to achieving our ultimate goal, follow God’s commands, and be willing to serve others. Moreover, no one really knows what heaven is like. Therefore, we must maintain our faith. Paul warns us that we must “Fight the good fight of faith” since the fear of the unknown can make us vulnerable to temptation.
Paul tells us what to do as we take hold of the eternal life. He reminds us to: Think, Accept, Keep, and Engage.
Think more to know the truth and reality and reduce negative emotions. We must think to do what Paul directs – to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
Accept Jesus Christ into your heart. Once you receive Jesus, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit, which is your constant guide.
Keep Jesus’s commands and know God’s Word, which is the truth. And the truth will set you free.
Engage others by sharing, serving, and spreading the word so that they will “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Take Hold of Happiness and Spread the Word – Send a Bible for FREE
Give someone or yourself the truth for complete happiness! I invite you to take hold of happiness and spread the Word. Send a Bible to someone you care about or to yourself. It’s FREE. (Jesus already paid.) Just choose a Bible, fill out the form, and the Bible will be sent.
Blessed be you always – Mindy, the Happy Therapist
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When I was a young girl, and someone (like my brother) did something to hurt me, my mom would tell me to forgive him. I didn’t know what that really meant, and Mom didn’t detail it. So, I developed my own idea of forgiveness based on what I thought and what I heard. As a result, I knew I couldn’t do what was required to forgive. Consequently, I grew up not learning and not practicing forgiveness. My ignorance led to widespread dissatisfaction, an absence of peace, and counterfeit joy. I became a grudge holder and scorekeeper, which cheated me out of complete happiness. Through constant prayer, profound thought, and deliberate study, I figured out how to stop cheating myself out of joy. I learned how forgiveness creates happiness. Keep reading to know the truth about forgiveness and how forgiveness makes you happy!
In this post, you will learn:
Myth vs. true definition of forgiveness
What forgiveness requires
Why it’s so difficult to forgive
Outcomes of unforgiveness and forgiveness
How to forgive when someone asks or doesn’t ask for it
How forgiveness makes you happy
Misleading Ideas about Forgiveness
Growing up, I was told to forgive others, and I read about its importance in the Bible. Moreover, I mentioned it to God every night in my prayers. But I just didn’t get it. I didn’t know how to forgive or what it meant. Most likely, it was because of the misinformation given to me about forgiveness. Here are some of those distortions:
“You have to forgive and forget.”
“I can forgive, but I won’t forget.”
“Just don’t think about it.”
“Put it behind you.”
“Hug, kiss, and make up.”
“Say you’re sorry and shake hands.”
You have to forgive and forget; I can forgive, but I won’t forget.
These statements are contradictory and counterintuitive, which makes them confusing. For example, my mom and dad told me to forgive and forget, and then I heard my mom say, “I can forgive, but I won’t forget.”
Our subconscious brains remember painful experiences for self-preservation. You don’t forget the painful burn from a hot stove or the pain of a break-up where you got burned. These reminders make you more cautious. The sting of punishment makes us remember not to be disobedient.
It’s easy to forget things that aren’t important to us. But, it’s difficult to forget when the event, the person who caused the pain, or the injury is significant.
Just don’t think about it.
Try not to think of warm jelly donuts. What happened? When you try not to think of something, you think about it more in an attempt to not think about it. People try not to think about things by distracting themselves with other thoughts or activities. Distraction only works as long as you have something to distract you.
Put it behind you.
When I think about putting the pain someone caused behind me, it becomes a pain in the behind. How many times have you or someone else called someone or something “a pain in the butt?” The sound of this makes it more comical and less serious. However, less severe issues can linger and become provisions for more severe problems.
Hug, kiss, and make up.
In truth, the last thing I want to do when someone has caused me great pain is kiss or hug and make up. Hugging a person who just stabbed me in the heart pushes the blade in deeper and causes a more severe wound. So now, I have to recover from a more severe injury.
Say you’re sorry and shake hands.
How sincere is a forced apology? In addition, when you add a “good sport” or handshake (what people frequently did before the Covid fiasco) indicating respect to it, that’s adding insult to injury. Similar to the kiss and make up situation, there is no genuine repentance.
When You Don’t Understand Forgiveness, You do What’s Natural
When you have misperceptions about forgiveness, you become confused and frustrated, which doesn’t help you disengage from the pain and the pain-maker (wrongdoer). This attachment to pain is a constant alert to the danger you must survive. Therefore, you spend your time in survival mode, and you’ll do what’s natural. You’ll rely on your natural emotions, so you’ll experience the additional pain of fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. You must understand forgiveness to practice it.
Definition of Forgiveness
Like me, many people struggle with forgiveness because they don’t know what it means. One of the best definitions of forgiveness comes from Charles Stanley’s book, “The Gift of Forgiveness.” Dr. Stanley defines forgiveness as “the act of setting someone free from an obligation to you that is a result of a wrong done against you.” He goes on to explain, “…a debt is forgiven when you free your debtor from his obligation to pay back what he owes you.”
Offenders Debit Victims’ Accounts
When someone hurts you, the offender takes something from you. The person debits you. People can rob you of material goods, wealth, health and well-being, innocence, or joy. Or, they can cheat you out of an opportunity. According to Christian and civil laws, the offender must atone for or pay back the deficit imposed on the victim. But what happens if the wrongdoer doesn’t get caught or confess to his crime? Furthermore, how do you determine how much someone owes you if he stole your innocence or cheated you out of an opportunity?
Payback is easier to collect when the perpetrator gets caught, and the offenses are quantifiable, like damage to property or stolen material goods. But, how do you get compensated for damage done to your soul, heart, mind, values, or livelihood? Even if the judicial system punishes the perpetrator by putting him in jail, the punishment isn’t a direct payback to you. Conversely, it’s another debit because you help pay for the wrongdoer’s prison stay if you pay taxes.
It’s Easy to Remain an Anti-forgiveness Victim
Victims can be disappointed in a perpetrator’s punishment or lack thereof. Moreover, the victim’s deficit can leave her financially crushed, physically impaired, and emotionally distraught. Now, she’s confronted with the choice to restore herself or remain a victim.
For someone who feels cheated and defeated, restoration can feel overwhelming. Therefore, it’s easier to remain a victim. However, people who choose the victim lifestyle are chronically dissatisfied. It doesn’t take long before these poor unfortunate souls develop an aversion to forgiveness because it’s more convenient for them not to forgive.
Forgiveness takes away a victims’ excuses for failure. It means they must be accountable and held to specific standards. Forgiveness takes a person out of the victim role. Therefore, she no longer gets pity or what she views as tender loving care.
If a victim chooses to restore herself, she must forgive. And, to forgive, she must be willing to experience more discomfort.
What Forgiveness Requires
Forgiveness requires willingness, determination, strength, courage, and faith. To forgive, you must be willing to experience additional pain. Moreover, you must be determined enough to endure it, strong enough to confront the unknown, and courageous enough to humble yourself. All of this comes from faith in God.
The kind of pain that occurs when you forgive is a good hurt – like the kind you feel with a deep massage on tight, sore muscles. This pain comes from giving up hope, surrendering control, and lowering your importance.
Surrender and Submit
Give up hope: Hope keeps us going. It’s the last line of defense against depression and defeat. Therefore, we don’t want to give it up. To release someone of a debt, you must be willing to give up all hope of getting what a debtor owes you and rely on your hope in Jesus Christ.
Surrender control: When we think of surrendering, we think of defeat and submission, which oppose our nature to dominate. To forgive, you must surrender the need for control you developed from constantly reliving the event and imagining an outcome you can control. After a while, your need will deepen, and you’ll need to control people and situations so you can create effects that suit you. To give up control, you must be strong enough to know you can handle unpredictable outcomes. This strength comes from faith and trust in God.
Lower your importance: When you let go of a significant situation in which you were involved, you lower its importance and your own. It’s scary to make yourself less important, especially if you have low self-worth. But, this lowering is not the same as devaluing yourself, which means you disrespect, discredit, and dislike yourself. To lower yourself by relinquishing the major role you had in a significant event gives you no status. It can make you feel like you’ve submitted to the enemy. But in truth, it allows you just to be you – humbled.
The fear about being humble is that you won’t get the attention you need. The fear of being unnoticed is inherent. As infants, if we don’t get noticed, we won’t get cared for and fed. We mitigate this fear by giving attention to our Lord and Savior and emulating His courage and humility.
Humility and Forgiveness
Instinctually, we want justice and revenge, which oppose humility and forgiveness. People tend to associate humility with meekness and associate meekness with weakness. On the contrary, humility requires love, strength, courage, and faith, which require purposeful thought. Humility occurs when you think then consider your emotions. Reason and emotions create a stronger foothold for decision-making, especially the decision to forgive. Humility leads to wisdom, and wisdom leads to happiness.
On the contrary, justice and revenge are led by emotions and followed by thoughts. This natural order for resolution results in pride – the nemesis of humility. It’s easier to feel than think. Thus, it’s easier to fall into pride than rise into humility.
Pride: The Nemesis of Humility and Champion of Sin
We develop pride when we lack pride in ourselves. It grows from insecurity and feeds on fear, anger, and contempt. Pride is the nemesis of humility and champion of sin. The haughty spirit and stubbornness characterized by pride, at first blush, can make a person appear confident. But a closer look will reveal the absence of trust, which is the foundation of confidence. Moreover, pride steals one’s joy, prevents peace, and puts conditions on love. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
Pride destroys the glory of forgiveness. But, it isn’t only one obstacle for giving and receiving the gift of forgiveness.
Why It’s Difficult to Forgive
Here are eight reasons why it’s difficult to forgive.
No understanding: If you got contradictory information or didn’t learn what forgiveness really means, you won’t know how to forgive.
To avoid pain: We subconsciously remember the pain we’ve experienced so we can avoid it and continue to exist. Likewise, we can consciously avoid pain if we deny the existence of hurtful events.
Hooked on Adrenaline: Our memory of pain also activates a natural negative bias which raises our adrenaline. As a result, some people get hooked on higher adrenaline levels. Therefore, they hold onto the pain of adverse events for the adrenaline high.
Confused: When someone hurts you, it doesn’t make sense. So, you can’t comprehend the person’s actions and rationally resolve the issue. Therefore, you don’t know what to forgive.
You thought you already forgave the person: Perhaps you acknowledged the violation and even prayed or talked about it with someone. But in truth, you just packed it away and continue to divert your attention away from it.
Fear: I’ve had several clients tell me they’re afraid to let go of hurtful situations because they’re scared of repeating the same mistakes and get reinjured.
Emotions take priority: Our emotions develop long before our intellect. They were the first to come, so they are often first served in that people give them priority over their thoughts. Therefore, people don’t think wisely.
Subconscious memories are triggered: Our subconscious mind takes in 11 million pieces of information per second. So, when you recall details of a catastrophic event, some portions of information don’t get transferred to the conscious mind. After you’ve recovered, you may experience something that awakens some of the information that didn’t transmit. This information triggers the original painful memories, thoughts, and feelings.
An Example of Triggered Subconscious Memories
Say you’re involved in a horrible attack where you struggled against someone. You’re aware of the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes in your immediate view, but your subconscious mind collects information from the surrounding area beyond your conscious awareness. Now let’s say it picks up a song playing in the distance that you don’t consciously recall. You recover from the attack and feel better. A long while later, you’re walking through a store and hear the song. Your subconscious reminds you of the pain and alerts you to danger. So, you have a panic attack.
It’s difficult to know how many pieces of information didn’t transfer. You might experience something years later that triggers the painful memory. Therefore, you may have to forgive someone more than once.
Forgive Seventy Times Seven
Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. It also requires forbearance. Think of the agony Jesus was in when he forgave all who wronged him. Since memories of hurtful events can randomly pop up, the pain associated with those memories also recurs. Therefore, you might have to forgive someone over and over. Jesus gave us this message when Peter asked him how many times we had to forgive someone.
My Personal Seventy Times Seven
Many years ago, I loved a man whose emotional issues eventually evolved into violent and abusive behaviors. The situation became so dangerous that I had to get out. So, I got divorced. Even many years later, and after my ex-husband passed away, memories popped up and sent me reeling with fear, resentment, anger, and contempt. I’d become irritable, short-tempered, impatient, and bitter. Finally, I told God I needed to forgive entirely and asked Him what to do. He told me to pray for my ex-husband. Admittedly, that is not what I had in mind. But I did it. I remember my first prayer. It felt like a volcanic eruption in my soul as I held onto the arm of my chair and grunted out, “God help him!”
Relieved that I did what God told me, I asked Him again the next day. Thinking he would suggest I contribute to my favorite charity or something like that, he told me again to “Pray for him.” And, so I did. I prayed every day for many, many days. Maybe it was seventy? As the days passed, I prayed with more ease, the memories faded, and the pain ceased. Because I genuinely forgave him, I no longer felt any negativity towards my ex-husband. Instead, I feel sorrow for him. My mind is at peace, and my heart is soft with compassion. My soul rejoices.
Outcomes of Unforgiveness
When there is no forgiveness, there is no peace. If you find joy, it is tenuous at best. Love becomes conditional, and freedom is a farfetched luxury. Any satisfaction is imaginary, and contentment is undetermined. There is no real happiness.
Results of Forgiveness
When you forgive, you release the pain and the pain-maker from his debt to you. (It’s like pulling off a tick.) It may seem like the offender gets off without the pain of punishment, but in truth, you are the one set free. You no longer carry the burden of hatred, self-blame for not adequately protecting yourself (or others), and the desire for vengeance. The result is a cleansed conscience and refreshed soul. Love will fill your heart, and your mind will be clear. You’ll be physically healthier. Moreover, when you let go of the debt, you give it to the King of the Universe. And He’s got it covered.
“Repent! The End is Near”
During the 1960s, a familiar cartoon picture was a scruffy cloaked old man holding a sign that read, “The End is Near.” The cartoon poked fun of the street corner preachers and profits who warned passersby with signs that read, “Repent! The End is Near.”
In truth, that’s good advice. We should repent because we don’t know the end time for us or anyone we’ve offended. When we repent, we regret what we did that hurt someone and ask for mercy. We ask for forgiveness. It’s difficult to ask for forgiveness, but it’s even more challenging to give mercy. Both are risky. Therefore, each party must be strong in faith, love, and trust.
How to Repent
Many people give disingenuous apologies. Those do not promote reconciliation. To make a genuine apology, the offender must express his regret (“I’m sorry.”) and acknowledge the effects of his offense (“I must have really disappointed you when I ….”). At which point he may ask for forgiveness (“Will you forgive me?”) or make the statement, “I hope you can forgive me.” Then the victim can confirm or deny the request.
No Mercy, No Relationship
What happens when someone withholds mercy? This very thing happened to me a few years ago. I unknowingly offended a friend of mine. After she brought it to my attention, I apologized in earnest and asked for forgiveness. She answered by shaking her head, “No.” As much as I wanted to continue the friendship, I couldn’t. You can’t reconcile with someone who isn’t willing to release you of a mistake. Instead, you would spend your time trying to prove yourself worthy of someone who doesn’t trust you. The relationship becomes a winless competition.
Forgiving People Who Don’t Ask for It
Many clients who’ve recovered from horrible situations and forgave the perpetrator get the urge to tell the offender that they’ve forgiven him. I discourage this because it doesn’t yield a good outcome.
People’s consciences let them know when they’ve hurt someone. If they don’t repent, they don’t have a conscience, or they deny the pain they caused as a way to handle the shame and guilt. Someone who doesn’t have a conscience lacks empathy and could be a sociopath. These people are a menace to society and will see your forgiveness as superiority, which they can’t handle. Therefore, they could pose another threat.
People who have a conscience, but don’t listen to it, deny their guilt. Their constant battle to ignore their conscience causes them to live in constant denial. Soon, they lose sight of the truth. In addition, their shame and guilt evolve into anger and contempt. These folks become unapproachable. They’ve closed off their receptors to anything good. Therefore, if you try to give them something good, like forgiveness, they will resist and spew it back on you tenfold to make you go away. How dare you remind them of the truth?
Forgiveness Makes You Happy
When you forgive, you utilize all the spiritual gifts God has given you. Moreover, you love with your heart, soul, and mind, which is God’s command. Finally, the courage to forgive builds your confidence and faith and brings you closer to God.
Forgiveness gives you joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. It makes you happy!
In the 1954 movie White Christmas, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sang Irving Berlin’s “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” to help ease each other’s worries. The song’s sweet melody and lyrics are calming and comforting. Moreover, the piece offers excellent advice for achieving happiness. So, even if you aren’t worried and can sleep, you can still count your blessings and add up your happiness!
Why People Recount Their Problems Instead of Their Blessings
Why do so many of us claim we want to be happy but constantly worry and recount the bad things in our lives that make us unhappy? Here are five reasons people hold onto their troubles:
We are built to have a natural negative bias to preserve our existence. This bias makes it easy to think in negative terms. Moreover, it intensifies our reactions to adverse events giving us an emotional rush.
The need for control. If something terrible happened to you where you had no power, you might develop a need to control your life and the lives of others to ensure safety. Consequently, to sustain that need, you must seek negative things you can handle.
Some people believe they must consciously remember bad things so they won’t make the same mistakes.
There is no resolution for harm or injury caused by another person. If someone causes another person injury or harm and there is no restitution, the victim will hang onto the hurt to punish the offender just in her mind. Sometimes people spend years plotting revenge. Therefore, they hold onto dreadful events so they can imagine a satisfying outcome.
People don’t understand forgiveness. We know we’re supposed to forgive others. However, many of us weren’t taught what forgiveness is and how to do it. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you accept or condone unacceptable behaviors. And, it isn’t as easy as the saying, “Forgive and forget.” Our subconscious mind’s alert system remembers what is painful so we can avoid it in the future.
Moreover, when someone hurts you, your brain takes in millions of pieces of information, including sights, sounds, smells, physical and emotional feelings, tastes, and thoughts. Even though you might consciously let go of an incident, you might have a sensory memory that gets triggered and brings up the painful event again. Every time this happens, you once again must let go of the hurt. Pain relief tip: The quickest way to get rid of your pain is to give it away – God’s hand is always out to take it.
Results of Counting Your Problems
Recounting painful memories does not make you feel good. In fact, it has adverse effects. I bet if someone did to you what recounting painful memories does, you would want revenge! Here are a few things that happen when you count your problems:
Like the proverbial fish tale, the more you tell a story, the greater the opportunity for embellishment. Therefore, each time you recount an adverse event, you enhance your negativity.
Soon, negativity will dominate your thoughts, words, emotions, and behaviors.
Replaying adverse events over and over keeps your corresponding thoughts and feelings alive. Therefore, your subconscious alert system never shuts off. This system overload causes anxiety and depression.
You’re a victim when something terrible happens to you. Keeping a constant tally of those sinister events keeps you in the role of victim. You become a chronic victim. Accordingly, you will live your life as a poor unfortunate soul.
Mulling over bad things that have happened to you does not change the outcome. It does not resolve the issues, and it doesn’t make you safer. Recounting unjust and hurtful situations is a form of negative meditation that spawns a plague of curses.
People meditate to relax their bodies and minds and to refresh their souls. But, meditating on bad experiences tenses your body, agitates your mind, and weakens your soul. Moreover, when you focus on bad experiences, you give them importance. So when you recount negative experiences, you value things that are less than zero. You spend valuable time on things that never add up to anything more than zero. Like something that’s been cursed, negative meditation is fruitless.
Curses vs. Blessings
When something is cursed, it loses productive benevolence. It has no benefit. Jesus cursed the fig tree, and it shriveled up. To curse someone, as opposed to cursing at someone, means to invoke misfortune or afflict him/her so that all their good things and happiness shrivel up.
It’s easy to curse someone who’s hurt you. But, if you remain a victim and seek revenge, you end up cursing yourself more – you give importance to painful memories when you recount them. Therefore, you value something that has no benefit and no worth.
It makes more sense (cents) to value things that have worth. Anything of worth is beneficial to the one who owns it. And, that benefit extends to other people, which brings everyone joy. Worthy things can be gifts, benefits, or advantages. They are blessings.
Definition of Blessings
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary defines blessing as “A wish of happiness pronounced; a prayer imploring happiness upon another; any means of happiness; a gift, benefit or advantage.”
People have wished happiness to each other for thousands of years. Even before the first century, people warded off evil spirits by offering good wishes to each other. These good intentions evolved into blessings. It’s reported that during the plague in 590, Pope Gregory the first advised people to say, “God bless you” to anyone who sneezed as a prayer to invoke good health. What has made us continue this invocation for nearly fifteen hundred years? People feel good when someone they may or may not know implores the King of the Universe to bestow favor on them.
Webster’s definition also implies that blessings are physical and spiritual. Physical blessings include people, food, home, health, prosperity, talents, and success. Spiritual blessings are forgiveness, eternal joy, salvation, spiritual strength and peace, favor and grace, security, and freedom from fear.
Physical blessings allow us to enjoy a beautiful earthly life. At the same time, they are a means for us to enrich our spiritual gifts. Similarly, our spiritual blessings stir our hearts to be loving, merciful, and generous, which move us to share our physical benefits with those in need.
Blessings Come From God
Blessings do not exist without happiness. And happiness does not exist without God. Therefore, all benefits exist because of God. In other words, all blessings come from God. Since God is the creator and distributor of gifts, they must be credited to Him and used for His purposes. Writer Vaneetha Rendall Risner sums this up beautifully in her description of blessings. She writes, “Scripture shows that a blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. Anything that helps us relinquish the temporal and hold on more tightly to the eternal.”
Our ultimate goal should be to live eternally in complete happiness in God’s glorious kingdom. The life we have here on earth allows us to work towards that goal. And, God has given us everything we need to accomplish it. He has blessed us with everything we have, including the world itself.
God created a world of extraordinary beauty that we can experience through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Genesis explains that God created everything above, below, and on the earth and blessed his creations. He made men and women. And, He blessed mankind to have agile bodies, sophisticated minds, and eternal souls so we can be productive, be happy, and have eternal life with Him.
Furthermore, God blessed us with unique characteristics and talents, so each of us has a different way of helping and serving others. (Romans 12:6-8) God also blessed us by creating food. And, He made precious metals, including gold. Therefore, God blessed us with material wealth and currency.
How We Get More Blessed
We often question why some people have so many more blessings than others. There are too many variables to answer that. And it is a matter of perception. Some people might seem to be more blessed, but they use and share their gifts more with others.
God does not have a lottery for winning blessings. Neither does he have a scorecard. God blesses everyone. He wants us to acknowledge and appreciate our blessings. But to do this, we must acknowledge and appreciate Him first. The more we acknowledge and honor God, the more grateful we are for the blessings he’s given us. And, the more grateful we are for our gifts, the more He blesses us.
But, it’s our choice. We choose how much we worship God and how grateful we are. This free will gives us individuality. Therefore, God’s blessings align with each person’s uniqueness.
God is Not a Socialist
God knows the value of individuality. He is not a socialist. If He blessed us all the same, we would be alike and have the same. There would be no need to serve one another and no motivation to do good works. Therefore, there would be no need to serve God. That would take away our uniqueness and individual freedom of choice, our need for Jesus Christ, and our ability to enjoy eternal life with our Lord.
Every human being has been blessed with the miracle of life and the benefit of choosing eternal joy or perish. The greatest blessing God gives us is salvation through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. For people who have the cognitive ability to make decisions, this blessing is a choice. God blesses people who aren’t capable of making decisions with His grace and mercy so that they can remain with Him.
We Choose to be Blessed or Cursed
God has also blessed us with the freedom of choice. We choose to accept or not accept our blessings. In other words, we can be blessed or cursed. To be blessed, we must obey God’s commands. He promises us innumerable blessings when we are obedient. But, when people live by their own rules, they push God away. They are disobedient. They value their desires and the looseness of their sinful nature, which require no obedience. This disobedience results in lawlessness and dissatisfaction. And, these people feel an emptiness. It is a cursed existence.
Follow God’s Commands for Blessings
To be obedient to God, you follow His rules. Review and adhere to the first Ten Commandments. Then, actively practice the two Jesus verified as most important: 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Why Some People Don’t Recognize Their Blessings
These two commandments allow us to recognize our blessings, use them as God intended, and share them with others. But, sometimes, people struggle with identifying their blessings. Some people view their gifts as common inherent traits and claim, “That’s just the way I am.” Others believe blessings should be big and obvious. Therefore, because they aren’t in the public eye or have a high-powered position, they minimize their talents and gifts as trivial and mundane acts.
So, what are some blessings? Like the song goes, “I think about a nursery, and I picture curly heads,” we are blessed to have other people in our lives. Family, friends, neighbors, doctors, dentists, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, first responders, clergymen, cooks, and hundreds of other service providers are there for us each day. How many times have you been grateful that you had someone you could rely on to help you?
We rely on other people because they have the skills to do what we can’t. They are blessed with particular talents. Conversely, as customers, we are blessings to them since we appreciate their talents!
Besides obvious talents people have, many spiritual blessings are less noticed. The Bible notes these significant gifts and talents. Here is a sample.
Prophecy – This is not fortune-telling. It’s showing possible outcomes by helping others think things through.
Service – Assisting individuals, groups, or society.
Teaching – Not necessarily the vocation of a teacher. But providing others with beneficial information.
Giving – Some people are good at giving money, gifts, awards, material goods, or food instead of physically participating.
Showing mercy – Mercy givers sense and respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of others. They sense people’s suffering respond empathically. They love those who are unlovable.
Praying – Not everyone is good at talking to God, especially for the sake of others. Intercessory prayer is a gift from the Holy Spirit that allows you to prevail in compassionate prayer on someone else’s behalf, motivated by the heart of God.
Healing – Not everyone can be a doctor. And those who are, have special abilities. But, people are often in need of emotional healing. To provide emotional healing, one must empathize and show love to others to the point of healing their emotional wounds.
Wisdom – Those who are blessed with wisdom have greater insight into life. They speak to an individual’s life or a specific situation with great understanding and a righteous perspective to guide others toward a life of holiness and worship.
Intelligence – Some people are just really smart. They can create, discover, and invent things that benefit our lives.
To encourage – No one is immune from feeling discouraged or depressed. And, not everyone is good at lifting people’s spirits, especially during gloomy times. People blessed with the gift of encouragement genuinely elevate people’s moods and optimize people’s attitudes through love and truth.
Leadership – The goal of the gifted leader is to guard and guide those he leads. Good leaders recognize their gift comes from the one true leader, so they submit to God and not their own pride. They do not feel entitled but remain servants to those they lead. Influential leaders remain strong in faith and courage.
Speaking different languages – According to Scripture, “different” languages meant speaking in tongues. However, today we have many other languages that didn’t exist in Biblical times. Still, we must talk so people can understand what we are saying. But, not everyone can learn or speak multiple languages. Therefore, being able to speak different languages, including sign language, is a blessing.
Interpreting different languages – To effectively communicate and help one another, we must understand each other. Whether it is a national language, sign language, colloquialisms, or reading people’s expressions and body language, some people are better at interpreting what people are saying than others.
Counting your blessings makes you meditate on all the good in your life and adds to your happiness. However, if you’re in a mood that makes addition difficult, or you just stink at math, you can just recount (describe) your blessings. Use the list as a guide if necessary.
You Decide if You Want to be Happy by Counting Your Blessings
It’s easy to fall into the pit of curses. Therefore, if you feel like you have more curses than blessings, you must first be truthful. Ask yourself if you genuinely want to be better and be happier. Then, you must decide if you’re willing to do what is necessary to achieve happiness. You must be willing to believe God’s promises, study His word, and be obedient to Him.
God Promised to Turn Curses into Blessings
Know that God promised to turn curses into blessings. But only if you revere and obey Him. Do this by asking Him into your heart, following his rules, and knowing His word. An easy way to start is by following the two commands Jesus gave us – love God, each other, and yourself.
If you still have trouble recognizing your blessings, pay attention to other people. Acknowledge, accept, and appreciate their abilities and talents. As soon as you do that, you’ll realize you’re blessed!
“To be happy, you must value happiness” sounds like one of those Proverbs that we agree with but don’t apply. In truth, we should pay more attention to these words of wisdom and live accordingly. We would be happier. Find out why and how valuing happiness will make you a happier person.
What Do You Value?
What do you value? Recently, I asked about forty people, both professionally and personally, that same question. Every person had to stop and think about it. Some people seemed embarrassed to answer. A few got slightly indignant, and some struggled to find an answer. How did you respond?
Like most people, you probably have a shortlist of people and things. Common answers include family, friends, job, home, and health. Even though all of us want to be happy, no one in my survey answered, “Happiness.” Only two people answered, “God,” which is the only way to complete happiness.
Why People Struggle Saying What They Value
I wondered why people had such a difficult time answering a question that has no wrong answer. So, I studied it. People struggle with acknowledging what they value because they’ve lost sight of it. The things you value most are your priorities in life. Your priorities are the things and people you focus on the most. Therefore, what and whom you focus on the most is what you truly value. You might claim to value one thing, but your focus may be on something totally different. For example, say you claim to value your children, but you focus on getting them involved in all kinds of sports. You buy the best equipment for them. Then, constantly tell them how to play better. What is your real focus? In truth, you’ve lost sight of what you claim is most important to you.
Here are four reasons people lose sight of what they value. See if you can relate to any.
Are too busy
Never had much value to begin with
Distracted Because of Competition and Criticism
By nature, we are competitive, greedy, jealous, impatient, and self-centered. Therefore, it’s easy to become distracted by what other people have. Comparing yourself to other people creates competitions that you’ll want to win. So, instead of focusing on how blessed you are with what and who you have, you’ll focus on wanting more or being better than your competition.
One way to make yourself better than others is by criticizing them. Conversely, our need for acceptance makes us averse to being criticized. This double standard distracts us from what we truly value.
If you were criticized and judged by your parents or others instead of valued, you’d be the one to create a high opinion of yourself. This overestimation of oneself is known as pride. The worst sin of all, pride, causes us to judge and criticize others as a means to prevent the pain of rejection. Therefore, pride causes you to value yourself by focusing on other people’s flaws.
Distraction Because of Pain
Besides the pain of criticism, other emotional and physical pain can distract you. We are wired to avoid pain. However, pain is inevitable. Therefore, when we have any pain, we tend to focus on getting relief. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, hospital councils for accreditation, and the medical community have prioritized pain relief. Likewise, too many parents try to prevent their children from experiencing the pain of disappointment. Therefore, they are less inclined to tell their children, “No.” This kind of pain has become intolerant and taboo.
Certainly, there some conditions require pain relief. But, we must be careful that we don’t cancel out our ability to tolerate pain. If you lose the ability to handle physical or emotional pain, you’ll lose faith. And, fear will prevail. You, the people, and the things you value will suffer because you’ll be too focused on being “afraid of…” rather than having faith in Jesus Christ. Remember, the what and whom you focus on the most determines your behavior.
Competition, averting criticism and avoiding pain keep us busy. Maybe that’s part of the reason people are so busy these days. Most conversations I have with people include the phrase, “so busy.” With so many people being so busy all the time, our Gross National Product should be record-breaking. And, “Now Hiring” signs should be a rare sight. Neither is true. Productivity is not equivalent to busyness. Much of today’s busyness is fruitless. And now, people can make more money by not working!
When I ask people exactly what they are so busy doing, they usually respond, “Oh, you know….” Honestly, I don’t. And, it’s apparent they aren’t impressed with their accomplishments since they can’t recall any. Unimpressively busy people don’t focus on anything productive. Therefore, they rely on other people to give them something to value. Such reliance creates temptation for both parties.
Temptation is Satan’s way of getting you to sin – transgress God’s law. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Today, you don’t have to get out of bed to be tempted. And, instead of being led into temptation, you carry it around with you.
Cell phones are a significant source of temptation. It’s easy to peek at your screen to see who’s texting, trending, or posting when you know you should be working, studying, or listening. Therefore, you focus on doing what you feel like doing instead of doing what is right.
In the natural (our nature), we prioritize our instincts and feelings. Therefore, we do what we feel like to get what we want instead of doing what is right and just. Temptation comes out of our nature only to keep us stuck there. How many times have you done something you felt like doing but knew wasn’t right and felt guilty about it afterward? Then, you were tempted to do something else that wasn’t right to ease your guilt. It’s easy to get caught in this cycle that makes you constantly focus on misery and relief.
Who are the Tempters?
Marketing strategists know how easy it is to tap into our nature. They tempt you into buying things you don’t need and can’t afford. Moreover, they condition you into believing it’s so essential that you should have it right now. Therefore, you focus on instant gratification.
Advertisers aren’t the only ones promoting temptation. Parents foster temptation by giving their children credit cards. Since credit cards are abstract currency, children can easily imagine the credit card will cover the purchase of whatever they want. It becomes easy for them to focus on getting what they feel like they naturally deserve.
Parents also cave to temptation when they give their young children cell phones based on the assumption, “In case something happens.” This message provides children with a sense of impending doom. So, the phone becomes necessary for survival. Children learn to value safety and security by focusing on the need for technology.
Society’s Reformed Temptation
Temptation is not restricted to acquisition. It’s a rampant deception that society constantly ameliorates into acceptable behaviors. Society’s proliferation of uninhibited sex and vulgar language has reformed degenerate actions into normal social behaviors. Moreover, the mainstream media has abolished temptation by making individuals’ amoral behaviors nothing less than ordinary conduct. This revised form of temptation gives value to wickedness and allows people to focus on fulfilling their desires and urges.
Lack of Esteem
Self-centered people focus on themselves because no one else did. The last reason people lose sight of what they value is that they never had it in the first place. Abused and neglected children grow to see themselves as worthless, damaged goods or commodities used for other people’s pleasure. In addition, children raised by parents who compromised moral and ethical values or had weak core values continue to be influenced by the laws of nature instead of God’s laws. As a result, they value life by focusing on survival.
When you focus on surviving, you live in survival mode – your natural and primal way of existence. It’s how we are born. Scripture refers to this level of existence as living in the flesh or sinful nature. To live in survival mode means you are always on the lookout for danger and strive to dominate. Therefore, you tend to expect the worst and try to control others. Your primary emotions are fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. These negative emotions cause anxiety and depression, which cause you to focus more on yourself.
Nature is in Opposition to Happiness
Nature is central to why people lose sight of what they value. Don’t underestimate the power of your nature and natural emotions. The Apostle Paul is explicit about what happens when we prioritize and focus on our nature. He reminds us how our nature contradicts the Spirit of God. Since complete happiness comes from the Spirit of God, we can conclude that our nature is in opposition to happiness. Therefore, if you value happiness, you cannot focus on your nature.
Don’t let competition, pain and fear, busyness, temptations, and low self-esteem make you transgress from what really matters. When you value something, you prioritize and pay attention to what he, she, or it needs to function well. You nurture, support, and protect what you value because you want it to last. In fact, we often want to pass the things we value on to other people.
To Value is to be Disciplined, Committed, and Willing
A lot of time and effort is required to nurture and preserve what you value. Therefore, it’s not always easy. It’s challenging when you’re hurt or tired. So, to value someone or something, you must be disciplined, committed, and willing to submit and serve – abilities we have, but choose if and when we want to engage them.
The willingness to submit and serve others comes from another type of value. These are core values – the beliefs we have about what is right and wrong and most important in life. Our core values control our behaviors.
God created people and rules for the people to follow so we could live in His love and be happy. A summary of His laws includes Honesty, Empathy, Accountability, Respect, and Trust (HEART). These rules are systemic core values that must be obeyed so everyone can experience peace, joy, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment.
To Value Happiness You Must Be God-Centered
Therefore, to be happy, you must value happiness by focusing on the core values that God gave us. You must be God-centered, meaning you must love God first. When you put God first, everyone and everything you value will be blessed and a blessing.
Our Two Minds Must Work Together to Value God
To value God, you must feel His presence, and you must know Him. Therefore, God created us to have two minds. We are born into the world with instincts and emotions that allow us to exist and have deep intuitions. But, they do not create happiness.
They are a function of our first mind that develops, our subconscious mind. Our second mind, the conscious, comes alive after we are born. It is located above our subconscious mind and makes us knowingly aware of the world. Our conscious mind gives us a higher level of understanding that inspires happiness.
The Earthly Subconscious Mind and Spiritual Conscious Mind
We can describe our conscious and subconscious minds the same way Jesus explained himself to those who didn’t believe Him. “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23) Therefore, we can connect our subconscious mind to earthly (natural) ways and our conscious mind to the Spirit of God.
While our subconscious mind protects our existence, our conscious mind discerns right, wrong, good, and bad. It’s where we think through situations and assess outcomes. The conscious mind allows us to know God through His Word and the teachings of Jesus Christ. But, both minds are necessary to have a complete relationship with God.
Jesus taught his followers the truth that often conflicted with their beliefs. However, because he valued them, He persisted with love and patience. You must do the same for yourself. Your subconscious mind may be filled with false beliefs that other people or you created. But, your conscious mind knows the truth, and through love and persistence, it must teach that truth to your subconscious mind. You do this through conscious awareness and repetition of good thoughts and the use of good words. Then, your subconscious mind will create good habits that will protect and promote who and what you value.
How Your Habits Affect the Value of Your Happiness
Assess your habits. How do they affect who and what you value? Do they bring you closer to God or push you from God? Do they line up with the core values? If they lead you to a conscious awareness of joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment, you value happiness. On the other hand, if you are left feeling sad, angry, and resentful, stuck, dissatisfied, or guilty, your values are not God-centered.
How to be God-Centered
Figure out what prevents you from being God-centered. Do this by paying attention to how you value the important things in your life.
Do you practice the core values within the confines of love with people? If not, what prevents you from doing that?
What obstacles do you need to remove?
What do you need to eliminate?
Who do you need to remove from your life?
What do you need to replace what you removed or eliminated?
To become more God-centered, read and study the Bible for wisdom. Pray for God’s help and find good role models. Seek therapy or counseling for guidance if necessary.
Being Happy Here is a Primer for Eternal Happiness
God created us to be happy in this world as a primer for eternal happiness in His kingdom. To be happy, you must value happiness. To value happiness, you must value God. When you value God, you’ll focus on how to have eternal happiness. Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves [material] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-22 AMP)
We all get negative from time to time because we lose, make costly choices, or have things taken from us. But, faith, hope, and love help us replace those absences. When faith, hope, and love are absent, we are left with nothing. That nothingness becomes negativity, which is an expression of pessimism or criticism and an attitude of not being hopeful. Negativity is systemic. It spreads quickly and is a challenge to overcome, especially the negativity in others. Overcome Negativity Part 3 explains how to overcome negativity of others so you can maintain your happiness no matter where you are and who you’re with.
Overcome Negativity Part 3 is divided into three sections:
Section one gives an overview of people who live in negativity.
Two explains what you need to overcome the negativity of others.
Three provides example scenarios that show you how to talk and behave to overcome negativity in others.
Before we begin, know the objective. To overcome means to succeed in dealing with something. It doesn’t mean to overtake or change. Therefore, to overcome other people’s negativity is to succeed in making situations with negative people the best possible situations for you and them with the hope they will want to change.
Section 1: Overview
People Who Live in Negativity
People who live in negativity live in a vacuum. Therefore, they take more than they give. As harsh as it sounds, they are thieves, murders, and misers since they steal your peace, kill your joy, and squirrel away their love. However, they aren’t satisfied with their plunder, so they blow it off.
These people try to fill their emptiness with nothing good. Therefore, they are occupied with deficits. They focus on the not’s in life – what they do not want, do not have, cannot do, and how others should not be. They make choices, behave, vote for, relate to, and treat others based on what they don’t like, don’t want, can’t tolerate, and believe isn’t right. I call them “Notters.”
Nothing good comes from choices and behaviors that are based on negativity.
Negative people are at different skill levels. Constant practice makes them masters. They can reach levels where dislike turns into hatred, what they don’t want escalates to violence, and what they can’t tolerate results in personal harm.
Notters fool you into believing they are saviors because their primary focus is themselves and not our real Savior, Jesus Christ. Therefore, they must save themselves. Their “save yourself” attitude keeps them in survival mode, where negative emotions pervade their bodies, minds, and souls. Their negative ways become habits, which become their beliefs and dispositions.
People with negative dispositions have low self-worth. To elevate themselves, they seek people they view as more deficient. If they can’t find any “poor unfortunate souls,” they’ll create them by devaluing people. They’ll take people’s joy, peace, love, freedom, and satisfaction. Therefore, they are more discouraging than encouraging.
Poor unfortunate souls give negative people someone to play with. Depending on what the Notters are in the mood for, they can save, punish, or control their unsuspecting buddies.
Play it Safe
Negative people play it safe. They don’t maintain goodness. So they don’t stand firm in righteousness. They go along with the group that benefits them most or dominate with a force that no one will challenge.
These doom-and-gloomers also play it safe by predicting the worst. They expect the worst, plan for the worst and tell you the worst. Focusing on the worst sets them up to be victims or heroes and allows them always to be right.
Goodness is Fantasy
Goodness is more fantasy than reality for negative people because they base their reality on absences. They see more bad than good and more wrong than right. Life is more difficult for negative people.
Additional traits of negative people
Negative people are also worriers, skeptics, secretive, easily offended, controlling, and drama lovers.
Reasons People are Negative
There is no way to predict how negative someone will be because there are too many variables. Genetics, environment, personality, birth order, mental health, and emotional sensitivity determine a person’s level of negativity and ability to live above their nature.
Reasons people are negative:
A Godless life.
You don’t have to be an atheist to have a Godless life. Replacing god with personal desires or pushing God out makes God absent. An absence of God is an absence of truth and love.
It’s easy because we are born with negative emotions.
We develop survival instincts before intellect, which makes them more powerful, influential, and natural.
Unresolved traumatic experiences keep people in survival mode.
When people have experiences that threaten their existence, they are naturally frightened. If they’re never confident that they’re safe and secure, their alert system never shuts off.
Anxious parents pass anxiety onto their offspring.
Over or under indulged children develop a negative reality.
These children don’t get what they need. Overindulged children get too much of what they want and not what they need, so they value things more than people. Children who didn’t get what they needed or wanted due to abuse or neglect rely on what they already have – their survival instincts, which become a priority for them.
Negative people live in their nature. The apostle Paul calls it “sin nature” because we are quite sinful when we live here. When we are in our nature, our emotions rule. We are greedy, covetous, competitive, impatient, contemptible, immoral, and selfish. To live outside of our nature, we must be more conscious and conscientious.
Section 2: What You Need to Overcome the Negativity of Others
Everyone shares the same kind of nature. Therefore, to overcome negativity in others, you must be aware of your nature and raise your consciousness to a supernatural mindset. You must lift your spirit and lower yourself and your defenses the way Christ humbled himself. Therefore, do not compete with, counter, condemn, or coddle negative people, but demonstrate faith, model hope, and offer love. Have humility and be mindful. You need compassion, strength, courage, commitment, and discipline.
Humility and Fruits of the Spirit
Humility does not mean to concede or lie down and take it. When you have humility, you’re aware of your bad qualities and know that you are not more valuable than any person. You are a willing servant to God and others. Christ-like humility requires enormous strength, courage, and commitment. It’s not for the faint of heart but is for those who have God filled hearts.
When you ask God into your heart, He gives you what you need to overcome negativity. He gives you the Fruits of the Spirit, which include love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (discipline). (Galatians 5:22-23)
To use the Fruits of the Spirit successfully, you must be mindful.
Three Steps to Mindfulness
Don’t be fooled by the sweetness associated with the Fruits of the Spirit. They require power and might to practice. You must defy nature’s gravity and forces to utilize them by being actively aware of your body, thoughts, emotions, and gut feelings – you must be mindful.
When you are mindful, you bring your conscious and subconscious minds together to work in harmony. You must be aware of your body and emotions, but keep them secondary to your thoughts as you consider your gut feelings.
Step One: Physical Awareness
The first part of mindfulness is physical awareness. Pay attention to your body – your breathing, heart rate, and muscle tension.
Negativity affects our bodies. To overcome the negativity of others, you must maintain a physical countenance. Pay attention to your facial expressions, body posture, and breathing when a negative person confronts you. It’s easy to be negative, but positive people are at ease. They are peaceful.
When soldiers are at ease, they are less stiff and ridged. Their bodies are more relaxed and at peace. We are at ease when we are free. Command yourself to stand at ease when you’re with a negative person. Be flexible and peaceful.
Step Two: Thoughtfulness
The second part of mindfulness is the awareness of your thoughts. When a Notter confronts you, think purposefully. Negative people are emotionally charged. They react, which makes you react. Think of responding instead of reacting. Imagine if first responders were first reactors. They would be so emotionally overwhelmed they wouldn’t be able to help anyone.
First responders train to respond and you must also prepare to respond. You already have self-control, aka discipline. You prove it every time you obey a rule. Even if you don’t feel like following the law, you do. What makes you obedient? Thought and reason. Your conscience tells you it is the right thing to do. And your thinking mind reasons out the possible outcomes if you do or don’t obey. Use your discipline to determine how you will respond to negatively reactive people.
Put Yourself in Charge
When you are with a negative person, use discipline to stop and think. Ask yourself, “What do I need to make this the best possible situation?” When you do this, it takes power from the negative person and puts you in charge.
You’ll probably discover you need compassion, patience, love, kindness, and gentleness. God has already given you these, so just exercise them.
Compassion is an awareness of someone’s pain and suffering. Patience means you are calm while you wait. Love and kindness allow you to serve as Christ does. Gentleness does not mean coddling or submitting. It means showing care and respect for others in the way that you act and speak. Keep your tone of voice neutral.
One way to exercise these spiritual gifts is to use reflective listening. When you reflect the person’s emotions back to him/her, it gets the person to think, which diffuses his/her negative emotions. Let’s say someone spoke harshly to you because he was frustrated. You might say something like, “Oh, it sounds like you’re frustrated right now.” Note: Negative people tend to anticipate a gloomy future based on the negatives of the past. Saying “right now” keeps them in the present and reality.
Third Step: Emotional and Instinctual Awareness
The final aspect of mindfulness is to be aware of your emotions and gut instincts. These come from the subconscious mind. We can only access them when we’re calm enough to listen.
The deep emotions and inner voice we hear when we are at peace are wisdom and truth. They lead you to do what is right even though the situation may be wrong for you.
A wrong situation for you might be the right situation for a negative person. Negative people overuse negative words and emotions, so they build up an immunity to the adverse effects. Consequently, they don’t realize how negative they are. Negativity becomes their reality and their reality isn’t truth.
God = Truth
If negative people have a negative reality, it means truth is absent. When there is no truth, there is no God. God’s word is absolute truth. Whether you’re a believer or not, the Bible is the best book on the market. It teaches you how to live well. Read God’s word to keep yourself positive and adherent to the truth.
Truth is goodness. It builds trust and intimacy, promotes healing, binds relationships, and conquers fear. Truth leads to joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment – happiness.
Pessimists vs. Realists
Negative people limit themselves from experiencing happiness, so they feel bad. Their bad feelings make them more inclined to complain, be cynical, downplay the good things that happen, and predict a gloomy future. Positive people call these folks pessimists, but negative people call themselves realists, which makes sense because their reality is the absence of truth. And, to them, truth is relative, not absolute.
God and truth are absent in people’s lives because of ignorance, insufficient knowledge, laziness, theft, no support, and choice. For many adults, it’s their choice that He is absent.
The Gift of Freewill
Everyone has God’s gift of Freewill. When we live with the Holy Spirit of God, we recognize the unlimited choices we have. We choose how to act, what to believe, what is best, how to think, and how to feel. Negative people are not free. They are confined to nature’s laws, where there are only two choices – eat or be eaten.
Section 2: How to Overcome the Negativity of Others
Compassion and empathy prevent us from catching the bad emotions of fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. They allow us to sympathize and relate to people’s pain and suffering so we don’t feel like we have to fix the person’s problem. When someone complains, you can show compassion and empathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that happened to you.” DO NOT say, “I’m sorry,” because it makes you sound guilty. It provokes an adverse reaction because you must be forgiven or punished. Adding “hear” alerts the person’s subconscious mind to the attention you’re giving him. Therefore, you give the person something before he can take anything away from you.
Hope for the Best, but Expect Nothing
You can never predict how someone will react or reply. Some people don’t even respond well to compliments. Therefore, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting negative people to give you a positive reply. This way, you’re not thrown off balance. You can hope for the best but expect nothing in return. If you get a negative response, rise above it with kindness and honesty. For example, if you give a gift to someone and the person responds, “You shouldn’t have done that,” you can respond with something like, “Hmm. Are you saying I am wrong for doing something good for you?”
Choose to Believe the Best
1 Corinthians explains love. One characteristic of love is to choose to believe the best in others. This one concept will keep you happy no matter who’s with you. It initiates the Fruits of the Spirit.
When you’re with someone who hurts your feelings, you can overcome that negativity by choosing to believe the best. Just thinking something like, “Joe must have had a good reason for saying that” prevents you from getting angry.
When you overcome people’s negativity, you give them more than they have and maybe even deserve. You can’t make them accept what you give them. Regardless, you are doing what is right and just in God’s eyes. You are a good servant to others and faithful to God.
Example 1: Managing Discouraging People
I decided to have a couple dental implants after discussing it with my dentist. I was very excited to share my good news with my friend. After I told her, she replied, “Oh. I know someone who had that done, and he said he’d never do it again. It was one of the most painful experiences he ever had.”
I love my friend but didn’t like what she said. So, I chose to believe the best and thought, “She must have a good reason to tell me that.”
This one thought prevented me from feeling discouraged and disappointed. Then I asked, “How do you think this information helps me?” She chuckled and said, “I’m just saying. It’s painful.” I responded, “Wow! It’s nice to know you care about me enough to warn me of the pain.”
I wish my friend would have shared my enthusiasm. But, I overcame the negativity and maintained my joy and peace.
Example 2: The “But-ters”
When you encounter someone who has nothing positive to say, chances are they’re in a deep deficit. Some people complain but don’t want things to be better. I call them the “But-ters.” These are the complainers who come across as wanting your input and counter every positive suggestion you make with, “but…” They create circular conversations.
Stop the cycle by saying something like, “It sounds like you are miserable, but don’t want to be better because you keep telling me why it won’t get better.”
Example 3: Critics and Judges
It’s difficult to trust people who criticize and judge others. When you hear criticism, don’t be afraid to confront it. Again, using reflective listening, you could say, “Hmm. It sounds like you dislike the way that lady wears her hair.” You can also ask, “Do you assess me that way when you’re with other people?”
Example 4: Relentless Negative Opinions
Some people are relentless in making damaging statements. They discount your opinions, have no regard for your feelings, and no respect for your beliefs. One way to stop it is to remind them that you care about them and see they are fervent in their opinions, but you still don’t agree with them. Let’s say someone continues to deride the political candidate he knows you like. You could respond, “You know I love you, and you know I like Candidate X. If the shoe were on the other foot, know that I would show you love, honor, and respect to not deride the person I know you favor. So, I will no longer continue this conversation.”
If you’ve given your best effort without any relief, you might just have to detach from negative people. As Jesus told his disciples in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
Be a Light
You can’t get light from the darkness. Therefore, you can’t make negative people positive. But you can show them the benefits of being positive. You can be a light in their darkness that shows them the way.
To overcome negativity, the best place to start is with yourself. While many people wouldn’t describe themselves as being negative, it’s surprising how others would. You may have more negative characteristics than you care to admit. But, you can replace those characteristics with ones that will make you more positive. Learn how to assess yourself for negativity and overcome your negativity. Then, you’ll be better at overcoming negativity in others.
We View Ourselves Differently
We don’t typically view ourselves the way other people view us. These views can go in a positive or negative direction. People with inadequate self-worth view themselves worse than others view them and people with too much self-esteem or pride view themselves better than the way other people see them. So, whose view is correct?
There is no definitive answer. The best solution is we should be transparent and continuously strive to be the best version of ourselves no matter what. When you are transparent, you are your true self regardless of who you are with. Remember, you can’t make anyone like you. Doing that will make you negative since your true self will be absent. Be truthful unto yourself and others. Then, let people decide whether they like you. Allowing people to choose whether they like you helps you work on being the best version of yourself since you implement your core values with people even if they don’t like you. You give trust, honor, respect, and truth to them and yourself.
When People Don’t Like Themselves They Have no Peace
No one likes everyone. However, even if you don’t like someone, you can still love that person by being kind, patient, and respectful towards him/her. Some people don’t even like or love themselves. Anyone would rarely admit that, but their behaviors tell a different story. People who don’t like or love themselves lack the necessary characteristics that make them happy. These people are negative. They have an absence of inner peace, which prevents them from having outer peace with others. Strife overtakes their peace. And, “Where there is strife there is pride….” (Proverbs 13:10)
Pride and Strife = Negativity
There is nothing good about pride. God hates it. (Proverbs 6:16-19) And we are warned about pride’s outcomes. “Pride goes before destruction.” (Proverbs 16:18) Why, then, do so many of us wear a suit of pride?
A collective group of lions is a pride, so named because we view them as regal and promote them as superior in their jungle society. When we suffer from pride, we have a regal attitude and elevate ourselves. We develop this kind of pride when raised without believing we are acceptable, valuable, and loveable. And this usually happens when there is too much strife in the home.
When raised in an environment of strife, our emotional and sometimes physical needs go unmet. We learn to focus on getting what we want and become competitive. Since our needs are absent, we go with what we know – our instincts. We become more accustomed to fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt than joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. This absence of needs creates a vacuum that nature must fill. So, we fill that void with natural ways that keep us on top of all situations and ensure our existence. We create pride.
Characteristics of Pride
To overcome the negativity associated with pride, you must be aware of its characteristics. The following list includes attitudes and behaviors common to people who suffer from pride.
Other Negative Traits
Apart from pride, negative people also share the following traits:
You don’t have to exhibit all the listed traits to be negative. Depending on the day, you may have more or less. You might have some that aren’t on these lists.
To Overcome Negativity,Counter Your Nature
Remember, negative attitudes and behaviors are indigenous to our nature. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:19-20 that we live with strife and pride when we live in our “sin nature.”
To overcome negativity, you must overpower your nature. Authority, commitment, and determination are required to accomplish this. Believe it or not, you have these. God gave you authority by giving you a thinking brain. And commitment and determination are part of your DNA. But, you have to admit you have these attributes and practice them to accomplish the task.
If you feel your commitment and determination are weak, you’ll have to build up their strength. Convince yourself that you are committed and determined by giving them attention and importance. An easy way to do this is by talking about them. Use “committed” and “determined” in your vocabulary. An example is, “I am determined to make this the best day possible!” “I am committed to my family.” (Side note: This might sound weird since these words aren’t used much in our everyday talk.) It won’t take long before you develop a true belief about being commited and determined.
Commitment and determination are crucial for overcoming your nature because when you counter your sin nature, you fight against yourself. Your subconscious mind will view your conscious acts as antagonists and sound the alarm. You’ll feel resistance and a strong pull back to how you were born (your nature). You’ll arouse your survival emotions and the creative ways (negative traits) you perpetuate them. War will be declared between your conscious and subconscious minds.
Take heart! You are smarter than your emotions. The key to success is to use your conscious mind to overcome and correct the bad information in your subconscious mind. You must be proactive. Activate the reasoning, knowledge, and awareness of your conscious mind to have authority over your nature (your subconscious). You gain this authority by:
Practicing new attitudes and behaviors
Thinking on purpose allows you to pay attention, gather information, decide what you want to practice, and assess your success. So, get in the habit of taking a minute to stop and think before acting.
Conscious awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will help you overcome your negativity. Here are the steps to make that happen.
Step One: Pay Attention
The first step to overcome negativity is to recognize how negative you are. Pay attention to yourself. Identify what you say, do, and think that makes you feel bad and be negative. Use the lists above as guides.
You may find one, a few, or many ways you talk, behave, or think that make you feel negative. You can write them down if you choose.
We form bad habits by practicing certain attitudes and behaviors through how we talk and what we do. When you pay attention to yourself, you’ll recognize your bad habits. To make a successful change, you must have a goal. Therefore, you must identify a replacement for your bad habit.
Step Two: Identify Positivity and Its Outcomes
2. Identify what positivity would be like for you.
You must understand positivity. Be realistic and know we all have bad days. No one is perfectly positive. But, bad days for positive people aren’t as bad as bad days for negative folks.
Sometimes people only imagine what it’s like to be positive. Imagination is good, but expectation leads to positivity. Imagination can lead to unrealistic expectations, which lead to disappointment. The following list gives you information about positive characteristics that lead to happiness. Positive people:
a) What you think your life would look like if you were more positive.
b) How would it affect you, your family, your friends, and your coworkers?
[CAUTION: You must be especially attentive to yourself during this step. Your “old self” will sense its days are numbered and will resist. It will oppose your “new self.” Therefore, it’s common to have intrusive thoughts during this phase. You may think, “That’ll never happen,” “This won’t work,” “This is stupid,” or “I don’t want to do this.” Overcome these obstacles by thinking purposefully – use your reasoning, knowledge, and awareness. Challenge oppositional thoughts by asking yourself, “What evidence do I have that this is true?” or “What’s the worst that can happen if I (ex. forgive)?”]
Pay Attention to Yourself
As you consider your life and the effects of being more positive, be aware of how you feel. If any doubts creep in, think where these doubts originated. Common sources for this kind of negativity is your family of origin and other important people, especially in your young life. Negativity is contagious. Therefore, you can easily catch it from your parents and other influential people, including friends who bring out the worst in you, adults who criticize and judge you, or spouses with issues.
Parents are primary sources of negativity and positivity. Even if your parents tried to be positive, you will pick up on their deficiencies and catch that negativity. You may end up with negative beliefs about yourself, such as you aren’t good enough, aren’t important, and aren’t loveable. These beliefs will play out in your daily life, and you will be at odds with yourself. Then, like your parents, you will spend most of your time trying to be positive.
You Already Have a Positive Start
If your parents were negative, don’t get stuck there. Remember, your parents had their reasons. But, now it’s your turn. No matter how negative your parents were, they thought you were acceptable, valuable, and loveable enough to see you through – your mom gave birth to you. Even if that’s all you got, the fact that you are here is a positive start.
The Ultimate Positive Goal
God gave us free will so we can choose what to believe and how to be. Like everyone on this planet, you are supposed to be happy, which is mutually supportive with positivity. Keep the ultimate goal in mind. Our bodies will die, but our spirits remain alive. Our existence now is our opportunity to prepare for eternal positivity or eternal negativity, meaning eternal life with God or an eternity of nothingness. You already have a positive jump by being here. Now, you can choose your direction and how to be.
Step 3: Identify What You Must Change to be Positive
3. To recognize what you must change to be more positive, you must be consciously aware of yourself.
Do this by paying attention to yourself. Pay attention to:
How you talk, especially the words you use.
Do you use foul language or bad words?
Do you use a lot of n’ts, e.g., don’t, won’t, can’t, shouldn’t?
Do you use tear down words, e.g., stupid, hate, worst, never?
What your first thoughts are upon awakening.
Your true thoughts when people tell you good things that happen to them. (Don’t justify this by saying it depends on who it is.)
Assess where, when, and why you are mostly negative.
Step Four: Determine Your Willingness
4. Change is difficult. Correcting bad habits is more difficult, especially if they’ve prevented you from getting hurt and allowed you to survive cruelty. They’re like life preservers. So, why would anyone in his/her right mind give them up?
Negative attitudes and behaviors might keep you afloat, but they don’t allow you to enjoy the cruise. Think of this change like being in the ocean wearing a life-vest. If I asked you to remove the life-preserver because a cruise ship will come to pick you up in one minute, how willing would you be to remove the life-vest? How trusting are you?
How much do You Trust?
Willingness comes from trust. Would you trust me, the captain of the ship, and yourself enough to let go of your life-preserver?
Check your willingness to do what you must to achieve the positivity and happiness you want. On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being unwilling and 10 being absolutely willing to do what you must do to overcome your negativity, rate your willingness.
If you rated it 7 or less, you must check your motivation. Ask yourself what prevents it from being an 8?
If the answer is fear, you’ll have to figure out why and what scares you about being positive and happy. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I change to be a positive person?”
If the answer is that you don’t know, it’s probably a fear of the unknown. When you’ve lived a certain way for a long time, it becomes predictable, and you feel more secure no matter how miserable it is. New territory can be scary. Imagine if Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, the Pilgrims, or your immigrant ancestors felt that way. You can always turn back if you don’t like being positive. Think of it this way, if these people had the courage to do what they did, you can certainly explore the way to positivity.
Fear of Change
Sometimes people fear their change will change who they are and they won’t love their spouses, loved ones, or friends anymore. Changing your attitude and behaviors does not change who you are. It just makes you better at being you.
It’s so easy to stay in your nature (survival mode) you can easily talk yourself out of wanting to be positive and convince yourself that your negative attributes define who you are. Many people want to be positive and happy but have practiced negative thoughts and actions so long they’ve become negativity experts. Negative people must learn how to accept goodness and happiness and learn to be at ease with positivity. You can supplement your acceptance of goodness, joy, and positivity by reviewing posts on blessedbu.com, reading the Bible, and observing people you view as positive.
Step Five: Commit to Being Positive and Pick a Negative Habit to Change
5. After you’ve committed to being more positive, pick a negative habit you want to change. Set yourself up for success by choosing a habit that isn’t too serious or difficult. For example, stopping the use of sarcasm, putting yourself in other people’s shoes to promote empathy, or learning how to apologize will be less demanding than learning how not to worry.
Use your conscious awareness to implement the change. Let’s say you want to stop using bad language. Note the word you want to change. Say, it’s a swear word. When you talk, be aware and listen to yourself. Apologize if you slip. Then, practice using the new word. You’ll find once you’ve apologized you will remember more easily to use the good word. This lesson also helps you become more at ease with apologizing.
Another example is changing your use of n’t words. Instead of saying what you don’t want or don’t know, talk in the affirmative and say what you do want and you do know. You can even say it as an expression to affirm someone else. For example if someone says to you, “It’s really cold outside.” Your reply, “I know!”
If you don’t know how to make the change, get help by researching, observing others, reading posts and tips here at blessedbu.com, or emailing me. You may consider seeking support from a trusted friend or therapist. (A way to learn how to ask for help – yay!)
Step Six: Evaluate the Outcome
6. Change is awkward at first. The more you stick with the change, the better you and others adapt to it. For change to be successful, you must evaluate the results. For change to stick, you must persist.
Change is difficult for the person making the change and uncomfortable for those around him/her. Be determined to stay your course. Some years ago, when my son was deployed to Iraq, I wrote him several letters. I ended each one with the confident commandment, “Stay strong, stay steady.” That simple decree so inspired him that he’s incorporated it into his personal value system.
How Other People React to Change
When you change, even if it’s for good, people may not react well. While you chose to make a change, you imposed a change on others. No one likes the imposition of change. It forces them to do or think differently. Even though you aren’t forcing people to do anything, your transformation will cause people to view you differently. Then, they must figure out how to respond. Your change takes them out of their predictable comfort zone. People like predictability and may resist your good change. Stay strong, stay steady despite any resistance or negative feedback. They will eventually come around. If they don’t, you’ll be positive enough to overcome their negativity.
Read my next post with more on how to overcome other people’s negativity.
Step Seven: Repeat and Practice
7. Once you experience good outcomes, you will be more accustomed to goodness, happiness, and positivity. Soon you’ll want more. This is an excellent place because it motivates you to keep being a better version of yourself and you’ll inspire others to do the same.
It’s important to keep practicing your positivity because the enemy will work hard to take you down. Maintain your positivity so you have a good reserve to draw from when there is excess stress in your life.
Give yourself credit for changing. Be proud of yourself for your accomplishments and enjoy feeling good about your positive change. You’ll find you experience more joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. You’ll be happier!
Overcome Negativity: Part 2 Overcoming Your Negativity
Throughout the ages, people’s desire to be happy has not changed. However, their approach for making that happen has taken a wrong turn. One simple way to be happy is to talk happy. You must talk happy to be happy. This creates a cycle. You talk happy to be happy and when you’re happy, you talk happy.
We want to be happy and want other people to be happy because we feel safe with happy people. When we view people as safe, we believe they are successful at life and want to be around them. So, happiness is kind of an indicator for how successful one is with relationships and accomplishments.
Even though people want to be happy, many are not. Some people put on a good front to fool others into believing they are happy. Those who admit to being unhappy usually blame it on their circumstances or other people. But, listen to the way these folks talk, especially the words they use. They don’t talk happy – even during everyday conversations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking down the street or in the grocery store and overheard conversations that if viewed on family television, would be nothing but a steady tone of beeps. People don’t realize the importance of their words.
Words Define Who We Are
Our words define who we are. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matthew 12:34 AMP) So, how can anyone define him/herself as happy when he or she talks using foulmouthed, angry, bad words?
With the last name, Fuchs (pronounced Few-ks), I’ve had my share of hearing obscenities. I am confounded why people aren’t more sensitive to last name pronunciations. After all, last names are important. They came about to identify one’s geographical roots, occupation, physical features, or parents. In my case, the mispronunciation of Fuchs, when people assume the h has a k sound, alleges bad things about me. It’s a disrespectful gesture from people I don’t even know.
Perhaps the ease of name mispronunciation comes from the ease in which people use such indecorous language. Our society is becoming more and more accepting of words, behaviors, and attitudes that in prior years were immoral and socially illegal. This cannot be indicative of an advanced society since an advanced society would strive to better its health and happiness by encouraging one another.
Social Rules, Including the Way we Talk, Are Like Guardrails on the Highway to Happiness
A healthy society must have laws. Therefore, we must have civil, moral, and ethical standards. We must have limits for what is acceptable and unacceptable. Think of social rules like guardrails. They help us stay safe and happy. They keep us in alignment, prevent us from running into each other, prevent us from veering off course, and keep us from going over the edge plunging to our deaths. If you remove these balustrades, keep bending them, allow them to deteriorate, or don’t put any in place you jeopardize the health and wellbeing of people. Society will suffer.
Some of these social rules include the way we talk, especially the words we use. Our words, inflection, and tone of voice express how we feel about ourselves and others. People tend to focus on the effects their communication has on others, but don’t realize the impact it has on them.
Words Affect the Speaker More Than the Listener
When we talk to others, they hear, see, feel, and maybe think about what we are saying. But, as speakers we see (in our minds or maybe on paper), say, feel, physically gesture, think, and hear our words. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newberg, Director of Research at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and Mark Robert Waldman, Executive MBA Faculty at Loyola Marymount University write, “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” “Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobe.” Therefore, we are how we talk.
Bending the Guardrails Allows You to Just Survive
We must talk happy to be happy and it’s true that everyone wants to be happy. Then, why do so many people talk badly? For example, I’ve noticed the f-word is being integrated into every day vernacular, seemingly with no resistance. This acceptance is bending the guardrails.
F*** was a negatively connoted word when it originated in the 14th century and that hasn’t changed. Therefore, anyone born after 1399 knows the f-word is a “bad” word. In fact, it became one of the most vulgar and obscene words in English history.
I confess I’ve dropped the occasional f-bomb. I was mad and frustrated when I used it so I already didn’t feel good. But, I felt worse after the fact. The moral of the story for using immoral words – when you use a bad word during a time you already feel mad, frustrated, and contemptable you end up feeling guilt, shame, anger, and hatred. Recall these are our natural survival emotions. (Survive means to just exist, not live happy.)
Survival Mode Perpetuates Bad Talk and Vice Versa
When you use negative, obscene, distasteful, and disrespectful words that you know are bad, you make yourself feel as bad as the words you use. “For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food.” (Job 34:3). This kind of talk keeps you in survival mode (your nature) leaving you with the defensive attitude of self-preservation. In turn, your attitude will lead you to use more bad words.
Maintain Social Guardrails
We must maintain social guardrails in order to have a healthy happy society. Start by keeping your guardrails in position:
Pay attention to the words you use and how you feel when and after you use them.
Think about the effects your words have on other people. Are they encouraging or discouraging?
Decide how you want to feel and use words associated with that, e.g. “I really enjoyed…” “My heart is so joyfu!” “I am satisfied with ____.”
When you are mad, frustrated, or offended use funny or silly words. For example, the f-word originally meant “To strike.” The next time someone offends you, maybe you could just say, “Strike you!” Back in the day, we used words like, “Rat fink” and “Stinker.” Using words that sound silly instead of mean will diffuse your anger and make the situation less serious for you. You’ll keep your heart light and healthy.
Use “happy” a lot.
Simply refuse to use words that make you feel bad.
Use words that are uplifting.
Bless Others With Your Words
We get happy when we help or do for others. Therefore, use words that bless others. “Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” (Ephesians 4:29 AMP) Bless others and you’ll be blessed – just by talking happy.
When my husband and I got serious about our relationship, he admitted he was first drawn to me because of my smile. David (my husband) is like most people. We are drawn to people who smile because smiling faces communicate happiness, warmth, acceptance, and love. What are masks really preventing?
Our Faces Communicate Who We Are
Our face is our primary source of communication. While we scan people’s bodies and appearances to form our opinions, we cannot know the person without hearing his/her words and reading the person’s facial expressions.
Masks Prevent Us From Revealing Our True Selves
Our faces communicate who we are. That’s why bank robbers, thieves, and members of certain organizations cover their faces. They can’t be identified for who they are, but are identified by what they do. (Side note: Any member of a group that requires masks becomes anonymous and has given up his/her independence.) From this, we can assert that masks prevent us from revealing our true selves.
Covid19 Government Imposed Mandates
Most of us are mandated to wear masks these days and maintain (the oxymoron) social distancing to prevent the spread of an unfamiliar virus named Covid19. I certainly respect the health and well-being of others and myself. However, I struggle with being forced to do something that goes against my human need to read people’s faces and my natural inclination for social interaction. Especially, when said mandates are based on ambiguous and inconsistent information.
Albeit, I comply with these government directives, but confess that it is very uncomfortable. I can no longer read people’s faces. I have a difficult time understanding muffled voices. And, I am constantly trying to get comfortable wearing a paper product that is supposed to prevent the spread of a virus that came from the same country where the mask was made.
In addition, breathing my own recycled air that fogs up my eyeglasses while trying to overcome the sense of suffocation is unnerving. I am preoccupied with my discomfort. But then I look around at the other people donning their face coverings. I wonder if they share my anguish or are they contentedly smiling? Since I can’t tell what they are communicating, I do what comes natural and shy away from them.
Masks Prevent Friendly Interactions
It is apparent to me that masks are preventing us from having friendly interactions.
Friendly interactions include smiling. Despite my mask mayhem, I’ve tried masked smiling at people. But, I can’t tell if they are smiling back or if they even noticed my smile. Smiling has become challenging and limited.
Health Benefits of Smiling
Smiling promotes friendliness and communicates love and acceptance. It also has physical, emotional, and relational health benefits. Smiling eases us into laughter which increases our level of endorphins. These chemical hormones activate our bodies’ opiate receptors which reduce physical and emotional pain. Smiling and laughter also boost our immune systems and lower blood pressure. Simply put, smiling and laughter make us healthier.
Social Benefits of Smiling
When you smile, it makes you appear more approachable. It draws people to you rather than pushes them away. Since we are a social species, smiling is a natural way of connecting with others and building social bonds, which make us safer and more secure.
Smiling Imposes God’s Mandates
Genuine smiles communicate confidence and imply the presence of Honesty, Empathy, Accountability, Respect, and Trust = HEART which equals love. These are God’s mandates that bring about happiness.
Masks Prevent Us From Being Happy
Wearing masks may prevent us from spreading disease, but it can also cause dis-ease. We must be careful. Wearing masks can keep us from smiling and prevents us from seeing the smiles of other people. Therefore, it prevents us from experiencing the values we must have to be happy. But, we can overcome that.
Have God in Your Heart and You’ll Have the Values for Happiness
Even though mask wearing prevents us from experiencing the values that lead us to happiness, as long as we keep God in our hearts, we have those values in us. We can experience those values with ourselves, with people closely associated with us, and with God. The Apostle Paul found contentment even while he was in prison by giving thanks and glory to God and serving others through his writings. (Philippians4:6-13) He knew how to be happy during dire times. We can do the same thing.
Be grateful for what you have, give glory to God, and serve others during this time. You will find joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. Even when you wear a mask, you will be happy!
Everyone wants to be happy or happier, but living in the natural is easier. Part 1 of How to Live Longer in Happiness explains our nature and what it’s like to live in the natural. Part 2 describes the elements of happiness and what it is like to live in happiness. How to Live Longer in Happiness Part 3: Getting There explains how to go from living in the natural where you just survive to living life to the full where you live in happiness.
We Must Be Taught How to be Happy
Many people spent more time being raised in the natural so end up staying there or keep going back to it despite their glimpses of happiness. We all know happiness exists and everyone wants to be happy, but it’s easy to stay in the natural. Many people don’t know how to go from surviving in the natural to living in happiness. The key is to know how to live in happiness. Therefore, we must use our thinking brain and be taught how to be happy.
God Wants Us to Live Happy
Remember my story in Part 1 – God created us to subjugate the earth (the natural) and rule over the animals, meaning we have a thinking brain so we can problem solve, make decisions, and follow rules. When God created us, He was joyful and satisfied. He is so happy with us as His creation, like any parent, He wants us to have His same joy and satisfaction. He wants us to be happy.
God also gave us instincts to survive and spiritual instincts to deepen our relationship with Him. We must be careful that we don’t allow our survival instincts to overpower our spiritual instincts. Our spiritual instincts develop our conscience which dwells in our thinking brain and promotes love. Our survival instincts develop our alert system which dwells in our subconscious mind and perpetuates fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt.
Existence Depends on Emotions and Memory
Fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt preserve our existence. They prevent us from doing things that will get us in trouble or dead and give us the ability to overpower others. We feel afraid when we are threatened and we feel guilty when we’ve caused someone pain. We can also overpower others by making them feel afraid.
Fear is the strongest survival emotion since it is the one that deals directly with life and death. Therefore, fear is the major manipulator since it manipulates behaviors so we can exist.
Our existence also depends on memory. Our brains are so sophisticated that we have the ability to store memories. We remember good and bad things. These memories are crucial for us to continue our existence. Good memories motivate us to repeat proactive behaviors and bad memories protect us from repeating harmful experiences.
Our memories are stored in both the thinking (conscious) and emotional (subconscious) parts of the brain. Since our alert system is in our subconscious mind, this is where our bad memories are stored. They are tied to our survival emotions with the strongest survival emotion being fear since fear is the emotion that deals directly with life and death.
We’re Naturally Inclined to be Negative
Bad memories include the bad feelings associated with the situation we remember. These subconscious memories alert us to danger and prevent us from repeating behaviors that caused us pain and threatened our existence. Through fear, they remind us what not to do. For example, “Don’t touch the fire” (for fear of getting burned), “Can’t play in the yard” (for fear of getting kidnapped), “Don’t run with scissors” (for fear of getting stabbed), “Don’t get close to anyone, so don’t get married” (for fear of getting a broken heart).
To be safer and ensure existence, we focus on what “not” to do, so our subconscious mind is filled with “nots.” This makes us naturally inclined to feel, talk, and be more negative. Think about it – how much easier is it to say what you don’t want than what you do want?
Rules Tell Us What We Can and Cannot Do to Keep Us Safe
Parents set rules to delineate what their children can and cannot do, and tell their children, “Don’t” so the children will remember how to be safe and secure.
God set rules for us. He gave us the Ten Commandments so people could live better, live safer, and get closer with Him. I believe He wrote eight of the Ten Commandments in the negative, i.e. “Don’t have any God other than me,” “Don’t kill,” “Don’t commit adultery,” Don’t steal,” etc. in order to connect directly to our “not” filled subconscious mind (where our soul is) and so we would remember them better.
The Letter of the Law
Remember that our subconscious mind is not logical. Its maturity is like us at age three so it interprets information very literally. Since the people still lived primarily in the natural when the Ten Commandments were written, they had more active subconscious minds. Therefore, they interpreted laws literally. They believed in the letter of the law. In addition to the Commandments, they created more laws to help them have a healthier existence and ensure they were doing what was right for God so He would continue to bless them. Soon, they became too focused on the laws and enforcing them.
When we follow the letter of the law, we live in the context of right and wrong. Therefore, when we break the law we are condemned. Condemnation results in feelings of fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. It takes us back to our nature. This wasn’t God’s intent. God wants us to live in the spirit – in Him.
The Spirit of the Law
Since God is spirit, His laws are not legalistic. They are spiritual. God wants us to follow the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. This concept requires conscious thought and conscious awareness. It is one we must be taught, so we need a teacher. Alas, God sent His son. Jesus is our teacher and our savior.
In Nature We Focus on What Not To Do; In Happiness, What To Do
Unlike living in the natural where our existence is based on what “not” to do, living in happiness is all about what to do. To live in happiness, the first “to do” is to be a student of Jesus and follow him. In other words, be a disciple (a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.)
Going From Surviving in Nature to Living in Happiness
The following illustration shows what we experience in the natural and in happiness. The gap in between is what we’ll focus on for living longer in happiness.
To go from surviving in nature to living in happiness…
you must follow the spirit of the law.
What the Spirit of the Law Looks Like
The spirit of the law is what to do instead of what to not do. Therefore, if I summarize the Ten Commandments and put them in a spiritual to-do list, it would look like this. We must practice:
These translate into things like honor, compassion, responsibility, consideration, truth, and faith. They are not emotions, but values that we all know are right and just; the codes and attitudes that come from our conscious mind and conscience – from our spirit. These are the values God gave us because He values us. They are the spirit of the law. When we practice these values, we enhance our relationships, bring about a healthier environment, and create a healthier society. They promote joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment.
Jesus’s Greatest Commandment
You can see these values spell “HEART.” Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into one great commandment, to love one another as He has loved us. So, we are to follow the spirit of the law with love.
Jesus sacrificed Himself for us to save us from condemnation. This took courage and discipline. God gave all of us the gift of discipline. However, discipline opposes our nature. By nature, we are greedy, covetous, and gluttonous, and it’s easy to be dishonest, irresponsible, and disrespectful when we feel like we deserve to have something, want something we really can’t afford, or when someone hurts our feelings.
To get to happiness, we must follow the spirit of the law with discipline. We tend to cringe at the word discipline. It takes us out of the natural since it equates to self-control and that means we can’t have what we want when we want it. However, discipline renders obedience and obedience keeps us in right standing with whoever is in charge. In this case, it is God. Using discipline to achieve spiritual happiness can be challenging, but the reward is far greater than the challenge.
Die in the Natural, Be a Disciple, Live in Happiness
Finally, Jesus rose from the dead. He showed us that when we die in the natural, we will live spiritually in eternal happiness. But, we must accept Him into our mind, heart, and soul and follow Him.
When I put it all together, the way to go from living in nature to living in happiness looks like this:
What to do to Live Longer in Happiness
In summary, to live longer in happiness you must:
Recognize what it’s like for you to live in the natural
Assess the outcomes of living in the natural
Choose where you want to live – If it’s happiness, continue
Stop being afraid
Become familiar with the elements of happiness and how they feel by identifying them
Acknowledge the elements of happiness when you experience them (For example, when you enjoy something talk about how joyful it was or acknowledge how satisfying something was for you.)
Be willing to do this for yourself so you can be better for others
Be more consciously aware
Practice honesty, empathy, accountability, respect, and trust constantly no matter how you feel
Make an effort to talk in the affirmative – For example instead of saying “I don’t…” say, “I do…” or “I can…”
Be a disciple
Honor God by using your gifts and especially your gift of discipline
If you choose to live in happiness, you will never regret your decision. This is not to say that you won’t have any challenges and bad times. But, when you choose to live in happiness, you choose to be closer to God, and the challenges you face will result in even more joy, peace, love, freedom, and satisfaction.
How to Live Longer in Happiness Part 3: Getting There: