Sunday, September 21, 2014

Authentic Positivity

Post by
Michelle Dowell, Co-Contributor

Every person has a wealth of stories and details that can be shared in everyday conversation. Some sad, some boring, and some happy or interesting. Too often stories or details are shared without thought being taken to see if the end result of telling a story or details is truly beneficial to anyone.

If you've ever had a conversation and felt exhausted after, it could be that the person--or even yourself--has been talking non-stop about a sad event. To clarify, sharing about needs when asking someone for prayer, or sharing with a trusted friend about something that's bugging you and you think sharing will help is fine and healthy.

But it's the many times when people decide to talk about a sad event just because they find it interesting or they are complaining (often people don't admit to themselves when they are complaining). They don't realize that the people who had been listening walk away tired and sad, possibly without realizing that's why they're sad.

I also want to clarify that I don't mean people should pull out fake smiles and pretend to be happy in what they say when they're not. That is not good. First of all it's creepy: people who aren't doing that feel lonely around people who are doing that--they sense an inauthenticness, the odd wall the faker is putting up so you can't see their true feelings. Another reason it's not good is that people who are following these people faking to be happy may become depressed in thinking that they can never figure out how to be happy like that person (not realizing it's all fake).

The Bible tells us to think on good things. So when we talk, we should try to stick to good things too as much as we can. There are so many bad things in this fallen world. God doesn't want us to be looking down at those or focusing on those. He wants us to look to him and hope and the beautiful gifts he's given us. If we focus on negative things, it's like being given a gift at a birthday party but instead of enjoying it and thanking people and talking about it, right away focusing on how small details in the party are wrong or some person is wrong.

Living in this way of being authentically positive as much as we can helps the person doing it, but it also encourages and helps others. If you want to encourage people, it's much easier to do it when you're in the habit of focusing on good things, compared to focusing on all the sad things.
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