Reflections: Keep looking up

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Negativity is like a stench of rotten food. It fills the air around it like a cloud of thick black smoke. When someone looks at the worst-case scenario, he dulls the spirits of those around him. His sour attitude changes nothing for the better. Why complain and grow bitter? It merely clouds the mind and kills the soul.

People complain about their state in life, their job, sometimes their spouse. Why do people do this?

Complaining is often a means to get your way. It can also be a tool to manipulate others into feeling guilty and giving in to your whims. Most people can claim this fault occasionally. Maybe you're unhappy within and need to vent your frustration and you're hoping someone will hear your cry for help and answer. And sometimes complaining to bring about a positive result is good.

You may think that if things were different you'd have no reason to complain. You imagine there are some whose lives are perfect; therefore, what could they possibly have to grumble about? Being dissatisfied can become a habit. You may even believe if you criticize it shows you have good taste and are discriminating -- which is not necessarily the case. What could be fruitful in dwelling on what's wrong rather than what's right with the world and your life?

Sometimes complaining spills over into saying words that bring another person down or make him doubt his abilities or his life in general. Tearing someone down does not raise your stature; it diminishes it.

The Israelites constantly complained to God in the Old Testament of the Bible, regardless of what God did for them. Nevertheless the Holy One continued to bless them. He fed them manna from heaven without their even having to work for it. They still fretted.

Where negative thoughts and actions bring cloudy days and unhappiness, positive thoughts and outlooks produce sunshine and joy. Numerous books have been written about the positive effects an optimistic point of view can have on your health, both physically and mentally.

When you're around someone who brings out the worst in situations, search for the reason for his discontent and wonder what blows life sent his way. Negativity stems from tension, failure, anger, rejection or general displeasure usually. Another reason people complain is because fault-finding has become a habit.

Despite your circumstances, optimism brings cheerfulness and the courage to continue pursuing your goals. It lifts your spirits and enables you to look up rather than down. When you glance upward you are looking forward. You often hang your head when you're despondent, shamed or discouraged. Being in the presence of someone who is cheerful and upbeat is like taking a breath of clean, fresh air or a cold drink of water. When they leave you're left with more energy, enthusiasm and hope than you had before they arrived.

"He that has a merry heart has a continuous feast." (Proverbs 15: 15) The Scripture promises if you look for what's good and focus on it you will live in constant joy. You will be blessed unceasingly and more importantly "your attitude" will allow you to see and believe in your blessings.

"A merry heart does good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." (Proverbs 17:22) What an awesome statement. If you have a great outlook and you're grateful, your physical and mental health will benefit, but if your spirit is broken, your health will suffer.

Regardless of what happens, if you look for the good and ignore the bad as much as possible, your state of mind and emotions will improve. Why not think about something constructive and refuse to dwell what's unpleasant and resolve to keep looking up?

@body_no_indent italics:Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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