Negativity Stinks... And Other Reasons to Smile This Christmas
Maybe this goes without saying, but isn't negativity the worst? I mean, you're just rolling along, enjoying God's grace and goodness, and someone just can't help trying to bring you down. Grumbling. Complaining. Poking holes in everything good.
Sometimes we can resist that gravity, buoyed by thankfulness and love for the Lord. But sometimes, thankfulness isn't enough to keep us floating. Negativity is contagious, and the grumbling of others, more often than not, can drag us down with them.
Some people are naturally more pessimistic than others: those folk have my sympathy, probably because I'm one of them. My first instinct is not to give thanks for difficult things and it's definitely not to smile about good things—for some reason, my brain's natural response to excitement is to rationalize and crush the excitement away, to prevent me from being disappointed. My point? I get it. I'm not the Empress of Positivity sitting atop my throne of unquenchable happiness, looking down on those who struggle and can't help talking about it. If anything, I'm one of those people. And the Emperors and Empresses of Positivity in the world can be downright irritating sometimes. Let's be real.
It's okay, all. It's a safe space. No judgment here.
Now, to be clear, the purpose of this post is not to belittle or invalidate any struggles that anyone is going through—any pain, discouragement, or suffering that may be tilting our perspectives into a downward slope. Life can be hard, and my heart goes out to all of you for the trials you may be living through right now.
But if that's you, please don't assume that the rest of this post does not apply.
A few days ago, I got hit with a surprise that had the potential to ruin my week. It was the exact opposite of everything I'd had planned (which mainly revolved around writing and binge-reading The Way of Kings), and I was disappointed. No, to be honest, I was a tad bit crushed. I was tired, needed to recharge, and wasn't sure how I was going to make it through the rest of the week. To make matters worse, I had some negative voices in my ear, trying to drag me down into the quagmire of self-pity.
Rule #1 of Positivity: avoid the quagmire of self-pity. It's a lousy place to spend Christmas.
Rule #2: repay negativity with positivity. When other people come to you complaining, don't feel obligated to complain just for the sake of being liked, keeping the peace, or avoiding conflict. Sure, don't be condescending, but try to change the subject. Keep it light. Don't take yourself too seriously. Look for ways to re-direct to what is good, noble, just, pure, lovely, and admirable.
Rule #3: work on your own perspective. This one is key. Sometimes I think we roll through life with the expectation that we should have our druthers. I should get this gift—how could they be out of stock? I should have this week off—how dare they call me into work? I should have this Christmas party—forget Covid recommendations! I don't know where we got the idea, but that's not really how life works, so if my day can be ruined just because I didn't get something I expected, maybe I should rethink my expectations. Maybe what I'm getting is exactly what I need. In fact, where God is concerned, it almost certainly is.
Rule #4: focus on God. I don't know your situation or what you're going through, but regardless, God's goodness is one unchanging reality that can work miracles in us if we choose to focus on it. Think about His love and the Son He sent to us as a child. Think about what Christmas truly represents—the infinite love of a Creator who gave Himself to rescue us from ourselves. Focus on Him. On God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the blessings He still showers on us even in our struggles.
I'm no Empress of Positivity, but I'm not missing out on joy this Christmas either. God is so good. In the grumbling and the rejoicing—so why not choose rejoicing when we can?
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