Here’s How to Change Your Attitude
Have you been acting like a Debbie Downer? Are you spending more time noticing the glass is half-empty than half-full? If so, you’re not alone. This kind of pessimism is habit-forming. If you allow it, negativity can become a part of your character. What a shame that would be!
Unfortunately, humans struggle every day with complaining. While it is natural to be disappointed on occasion, we should not let it change our overall outlook – especially as Christians. We have eternal hope, therefore, we have endless reasons to praise rather than complain. If you feel that you’ve been caught in a cycle of negativity, there are some ways to shift your thinking.
Why We Grumble and Why We Shouldn’t
The Bible uses the word “grumbling” several times when describing how the Israelites behaved after their escape from slavery on their journey to the Promised Land. In Numbers 11, they complain about the manna God provides because they want the food they were served in Egypt while enslaved. While God is meeting their need for food, they are complaining because it isn’t the food they want.
“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
- Numbers 11:4-6
It is easy to judge the Israelites and claim we would never act that way upon receiving manna from heaven, but I have a feeling we are not being honest with ourselves. We do the same thing. We grumble. We complain. We take blessings for granted. How many times have you complained just because you did not get what you wanted?
God was not happy with the Israelites and their complaining. The Bible tells us it aroused his anger, and he not only sent them more than enough meat to eat, but he also struck them with a severe plague. God does not think highly of those who grumble. Therefore, if you have fallen into negative thought patterns, let’s look at some ways to turn your thoughts back to God’s faithfulness.
The problem: Stinkin’ Thinkin’
The quickest way to get out of negative thinking is to do the opposite – look for the positive and offer thanks. Even in difficult circumstances, as a believer, you can find things to be thankful for such as a Savior and a Redeemer and an eternity to spend in heaven.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Some individuals take this practice a step further by writing in a prayer journal or a gratitude journal. This practice forces you to think about your blessings each day and offer thanks to God.
Solution #1: Count your blessings. Keep a record of them.
Read the Word
Spending time regularly in God’s Word is important in the life of all believers, but if you are dealing with negativity, you may find the Word is the best way to restore hope and a positive outlook. For instance, the Bible is full of people who face hardships and stories of God’s faithfulness. For example, by learning how Job faced difficulties and how David sang praises in the midst of battles, it will help you find ways to praise God rather than complain.
Solution #2: Spend time daily in the Bible.
Give of Yourself
Humans are notoriously selfish. Often, we spend more time thinking about ourselves than others. This “self-mentality” only contributes to negative thought patterns. Instead, focus your thinking on others. Look for opportunities to give your time, your talent, and your resources. These experiences tend to be a bigger blessing to the person doing the giving than to the receiver.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but
each of you to the interests of the others.”
- Philippians 2:3-4
Solution #3: Be a giver of your time, talent, and treasure.
Keep a Record
Being a Christian does not eliminate hardship from your life. In fact, we’re told we will face trouble in this world. However, as Christians, we have something the rest of the world does not – a Savior who has overcome the world (John 16:33). The Bible is God’s love letter to us that reveals story after story of His faithfulness and His goodness. When we face trials, we can cling to His promises.
We have the Bible to see how God has saved His people over and over again, but I encourage you to keep a record of God’s testimony in your own life. When you struggle, reflect on how God rescued you throughout your life. Don’t let the bumps in the road make you forget that God is still in the business of meeting your needs and performing miracles.
Solution #4: Reflect on times when God helped and blessed you.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
Finally, it is important to surround yourself with positive people when you are struggling. Complaining breeds complaining. Negativity spreads quickly. Therefore, spend time with people who will turn your thoughts to Jesus. This is not to say you should never talk about what is bothering you; instead, it is suggesting that if you notice you are spending time with people who complain more than praise, you may begin to fall into this same pattern. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Solution #5: Find a good church and join a Community Group.