Today I’m welcoming my fellow Proverbs 31 Ministries author, Tracie Miles, to share from her new book, Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live. Be sure to mark your calendar and join her for her Facebook Live event with giveaways next week (details below).
We all know life can be hard. People hurt us, the past haunts us, coworkers mistreat us, parents don’t love us, friends don’t consider us, spouses don’t honor us, children don’t appreciate or respect us, finances don’t support us, and our health doesn’t sustain us. Sometimes having a positive outlook and an optimistic attitude can seem impossible to achieve much less maintain.
But even when life gets hard, we don’t have to let our hearts get hard with it.
Whether or not our hearts and mind stay positive in the midst of hard times is entirely up to us – but all too often we let our negative thoughts eventually harden our hearts. Fortunately, through the strength, peace and joy found in Christ, we are all capable of shattering the hard shell on our hearts through intentionally choosing to think positive. Happiness is a choice, not a by-product of a perfect life. So regardless of what life brings, we can all choose optimism and joy.
Despite the hurts of your past, the difficulties of your present circumstances, or the fears about your future, you can make optimistic thinking a reality in your life. And when you do, your life will change, even if your circumstances remain the same.
The first step in pursuing a changed mind and a changed life is believing it can actually happen for you. Below are 4 tips to help you get started with your mind over matter transformation.
1. Don’t ask “why me”, ask “why not me”.
Maybe you’ve found yourself asking “why me” when life feels hard. When we feel crushed under the weight of our problems, we can’t help but think life is unfair, and maybe God is even unfair since He’s allowing such adversity in our life. But John 16:33 says, “ I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” When I read this verse recently, I was drawn back to the word “all”. We could assume Jesus meant “all this”, to refer to “all this instruction I’ve told you”. Or we could interpret it to mean, He told us ALL that we would have troubles, which we do.
But at times we might still wonder why others aren’t taxed with the same troubles we are, or maybe it seems we have more than our fair share, leading us to entertain that life is indeed unfair. But the fact that we ALL have difficult circumstances, doesn’t that actually make life fair? You see, God doesn’t pick favorites, and it wouldn’t be fair for some people to have trouble and others have none. So with that in mind, shouldn’t we consider “why not me?” instead of “why me”? When we are struggling, it helps to remember God is a fair and just God, and He loves us as much as anyone else. All of us get an equal share of His strength to face whatever circumstances are happening in our lives.
2. Count your blessings.
Sometimes the hurt or pain life inflicts seems like too much to handle and fears can threaten to paralyze us and steal our hope. Been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. But during one particular season when life was more difficult than ever due to a painful situation in my marriage, I decided to start keeping up with little daily blessings God was giving me in my journal, as opposed just to pouring out my thoughts and anxieties each day. I soon realized that when I focused on my blessings, I felt more positive, even if my circumstances remained the same. As I spent time counting my blessings, I spent less time and energy counting my losses, which helped to boost my spirits throughout each day. And my faith.
3. Don’t let your fears overtake you.
I am a worrier. I can’t help it. It’s a problem. I try not to, but I do. I love the Lord and trust Him, but my mind still gets lost in fears from time to time. When I can’t control a situation, I tend to think of all the worst-case scenarios that could happen, and then my fears start growing like a thick vine strangling the life out of a fencepost. Maybe yours do too. After all, we’re only human and life often gives us a lot of reason to worry. On days when I find myself feeling burdened with worry and letting my mind run wild with possible worst case scenarios, I recall the hope found in Psalm 23:4: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” It’s such a sweet verse to tuck into our hearts when we are feeling afraid of the unknown. The truth is … the “unknown” is probably not near as scary as we think it might be.
4. Commit to being positive, even if you have every reason to be negative.
It takes as much energy to be negative as it does to be positive, so why not put our energy into something that will bring joy into our life instead of discouragement and pessimism? This is one tip I forced myself to put into practice in my own life during the most difficult season of my life, as I was spending a lot of time being negative, obsessing over hurt and fears, and letting those negative emotions control my life and my happiness. I finally reached the point where I was fed up with feeling negative and sad, and ready to start enjoying life and being happy again. I made the choice to be positive, even when my circumstances were so less-than-positive. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and it changed my life. When I chose to take control of my mind and my thoughts and my own happiness, I was released from the bondage the enemy had over my thinking patterns and my joy. The same is possible for you, my friend, if you choose to be positive today, no matter what.
We can’t change our circumstances or control the situations or people in our lives, and God may not change them right away either, no matter how much we pray about them. But what we can do is stop obsessing over what we can’t change, start focusing on what we can, and letting God handle the rest.
We can change our hearts. We can surrender our fears. We can trust God has a plan that we can’t possibly see right now – a good plan to help us prosper, have hope and a beautiful future. We can believe He has a purpose for the things that happen in life, and that somehow He will use it for our good. We can ask for God’s peace, instead of letting negativity and pessimism and worry become a toxic illness in our hearts, minds and lives. We can ask for Him to let us feel His Presence so we know we’re not alone. We can ask for spiritual eyes to see when He is blessing us in little and big ways, and we can always ask for a thank-full heart.
There’s a lot we can’t control, but what we can control is our thoughts, which in turn controls our emotions, giving us more control over our lives. Loving God in the hard times is not always easy, but is always worth the effort. Once you begin making these 4 tips a part of your every day life, you will be on the cusp of experiencing a true mind over matter transformation. When you change the way you think, your life will take a turn for the better.
Facebook Live Event
Join Tracie Miles on Facebook Tuesday night, April 25, at 8:00 p.m. ET for a LIVE event. RSVP to attend here as there will be lots of prizes! In the meantime, be sure to enter her giveaway here of the prize pack below and the winner will be announced at her event.
Something for everyone!
Tracie also has gifts for all of you! Visit Tracie’s blog to download a sample chapter of Unsinkable Faith, sign up for her 5-Day Optimist Email Challenge and 4-day Bible Reading Plan. PLUS if you order Unsinkable Faith this week, be sure to redeem your receipt for her bonuses!
Tracie Miles is a national Speaker and Author with Proverbs 31 Ministries and has spent the last eleven years inspiring women to live intentionally for Christ. In addition to Unsinkable Faith, she is also the author of two best-selling books, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past To Create A Beautiful Future and Stressed Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World. Tracie has 3 children and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.