Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:23
Having a positive attitude is not often something that comes naturally. It takes work to be a positive, optimistic person. For many, the natural inclination when hard news and difficulties come is pessimism. For those of us, pessimism does not require any work. Positivity, on the other hand, requires discipline, focus, and intentionality. If we want to be positive people, we must work hard to train our minds to choose positivity with God's help.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that positivity requires a disciplined, intentional mindset in Ephesians 4. In this chapter of Ephesians, he calls followers of Christ to stop living in our old ways of life. After all, we have been given new lives in Christ. Instead of living according to our old lives, Paul writes, "let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes" (verse 23). Renewed thoughts are critical to the renewed attitudes that Paul calls for. Our thoughts affect our attitudes. If we are focusing only on negative thoughts, it always affects our attitude. We become pessimistic. However, if we train our minds to focus on the positive, we will find that our outlook and overall temperament will also change. Understanding this, the question becomes, "How do we work to train our minds to think optimistically?" First of all, we read and memorize Scripture. This takes our focus off all that is going on around us and points to the truth that Christ has overcome the world. Secondly, we start recognizing negative thoughts and redirect them. When this happens, we can let go of pessimism and choose optimism instead. Finally, we look for positivity in each and every situation. As this happens, we hold on to hope that God can use every situation for good, and, indeed, He will.
I do not know about you, but I want to be optimistic. I want to have a positive attitude in any and all situations. This, however, takes work. It takes intentionally and redirecting our thoughts from pessimism to optimism. While maintaining positivity takes work, it is work that is worthwhile. After all, we serve a God who promises that He will bring good out of any and all situations (Romans 8:28).
What things in your life are causing you to choose pessimism instead of optimism? What giants are making negativity an easier attitude to take on than positivity? Write down those circumstances in a notebook or journal. Then, make a list of how you see God working, even in the middle of the most difficult situations you are facing. It may take time to make this list, but I promise you God is working, even if you cannot see it or feel it.
Read Ephesians 4:17-32 (NLT)
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.