1.4 Living Positively
Have you been in the presence of someone who exudes positivity and optimism? How has that made you feel, think, and act? Having a colleague or a leader of that disposition and energy can really lift the effectiveness of a team. Being optimistic and positive even in the face of setbacks can inspire others. But where does that attitude and way of operating come from? If we are to exhibit optimism constantly does it mean we are to live in a “positivity bubble”?
Towards the end of a term, a semester or a school year, living positively can be a real challenge. Stress from the amount of work we have to do can get us down, assessment and report writing, pastoral and behaviour issues can increase at these pressure times. Our patience is strained, working relationships tested, our capacity to be enthusiastic and positive is stretched. The main goal can be to get to the end of the term.
As people who are growing spiritually and leading others we are called to endure the tough times, to seek support and help when we need to, but to also grow in our resilience and ability to cope and push through the struggles. This is how God grows us in character and strengths us in perseverance. Paul writes to the Romans Christians; We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5)
Endurance, resilience, strength of character comes from a sense of hope. Hope that there will be an end to the problems and trials we experience. Hope that there is someone bigger than us who is concerned and cares for us. Hope in the promises of God. From the perspective of faith, hope is a key to living positively. Hope that comes from faith in God’s love grounds us and enables us to live life positively.
It is interesting to note that academics have researched hope and have developed a field of study called ‘hope therapy’. Hope therapy is used with people who are suffering from depression. Hope is seen by these researchers as something you are not born with but must be developed like a set of muscles. Hope is the feeling you have when you have a goal, are excited about achieving that goal, and then you figure out how to achieve your goal. One researcher, Maholmes, writes that there is no more important predictor of success in a young person’s life than hope. Hope is described as the ability to envision a more positive future, even when all evidence points to the contrary. Hope begets resilience because it is the magical force that enables children to adapt and heal emotionally from their adverse childhood experiences. Kids who are able to adapt and overcome these experiences tend to have a higher sense of self-efficacy, which feeds their sense of competency and control over their environment and destiny. Anthony Scioli explains that hope is a part of a person’s character or personality. He describes four kinds of hope: attachment, mastery, survival, and spiritual. Each type of hope, just like each muscle, has a special purpose.
When we acknowledge our emotions and energy levels, our personal wellbeing, wherever we are in our life journey with whatever life has thrown at us, we can grow in our capacity to have a positive perspective on life when we draw strength and hope from the promises of God.
Listen to this poem on hope by Emily Dickinson.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Gracious God, when we are under pressure, give us your hope. Give us a positive outlook that you are guiding us through whatever we face at the moment. Let us draw strength and hope from you and your promises as we inspire and encourage those we serve. Amen.
About this site
"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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