Act Positive to Think Positive

“Garbage in, garbage out” was something both my parents and my Sunday School teachers taught me. It’s a true statement, though, as a child, I had weird images in my mind of people eating garbage!

The idea behind the phrase is that what we think about matters.

I enjoyed horror novels as a teenager (and still do, reading one or more around Halloween each year). For a while, I was fixated on Stephen King, reading everything I could find by him. This was in the days before e-readers, so I was fortunate that my mall bookstore carried many of his titles. As I got older, I figured out the bus routes around the city so I could visit used bookstores to find more obscure titles not carried by my mall bookstore.

I enjoyed the experience of getting lost in a book. After I had come home from school, finished my homework or worked a shift at my after-school job, I more often enjoyed reading a book upstairs in my bedroom than watching tv downstairs where the rest of the family gathered.

I was an introvert, and a bit of a nerd, and reading was a way for me to relax, get lost in my thoughts, and pass time.

But over time, I noticed that I was becoming stressed out and tense, nervous about dark rooms and spaces, and slightly suspicious about people’s motives and actions. I deduced that there may have been a correlation between all the horror novels I was reading and my creeping anxiety!

What we think about matters.

If we want to be more positive in our lives, we need to replace negative inputs with positive ones. If we spend the bulk of our time watching or reading news, tracking what’s happening in the world, or being around people who sap our energy, it will be difficult for us to be positive. Garbage in, garbage out.

But if we replace some of those inputs with new ones, such as beginning our mornings with a book of positive affirmations or Bible passages, taking a walk with good friends, or slowing down to cook a meal for our families, we will find ourselves being, and becoming, more positive.

The apostle Paul wrote about this principle in the biblical book of Philippians. He desired to leave the Christians he wrote to with a simple message that would help them focus on Christ. “Finally,” he wrote, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

What we think about matters. We have to work to stay focused on the things that are important to us.

I discuss this more in chapter six of my new book, Joy in Jesus. You can pick up a copy at Amazon.

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