The Power of Positive Thinking

I don’t want to pick on the book. I’ve never read it. I did see this line on Amazon though which made me stop and think: “Faith in yourself makes good things happen to you.”

I often feel negatively about myself and my circumstances. Good things do happen to me, and yet it’s still so easy to spend time focusing on the negative, and I can see how that could affect life in a long-term way.

But my question to myself is, if I change my thinking to think positively about myself, to have faith in myself, is my life really going to become much better?

There are a couple of concepts that stick in my head from the Bible that might help weigh in on this.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In all things — so even when I’m feeling negatively about my life and things are going wrong (presumably because I wasn’t thinking positively), God’s working for my good.

All of James 1 is brilliant on this topic too, but here’s a bit of it.

James 1:1 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

There’s definitely an encouragement here to think positively, and I’ve been working on that in my life. But it’s interesting to note here that it’s an attitude of joy in trials, because our faith being tested brings about good things in our lives.

I see two completely different beliefs here.

1) Have faith in yourself, believe good things will happen in your life, and they will. (And if you think negatively, you deserve the bad stuff that happens because of that.)

2) No matter what happens to you in life, God is working to produce good within you, and you should have joy because you know it will strengthen your faith in God.

Both concepts sell books. Which one works to bring joy to someone who is a mess and desperately searching?

4 Replies to “The Power of Positive Thinking”

  1. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive – at least not in my life. I believe 100% in the power of positive thinking and also in the awesomeness of God. I think part of what makes it easier to be positive and stay positive is knowing that God’s will be done and things happen for a reason. I dunno – maybe I’m off topic…

    1. Nope that’s exactly on topic. I might not have been super clear in my post, but what surprised me was the quote about having faith in yourself. When I’ve been at my lowest, I don’t believe it’s because I didn’t have faith in myself, it’s because I had too much faith in myself and not enough faith in God’s plan. I will admit that I don’t tend to be a positive person, and I do think people respond better to positive people than negative people, so I believe your attitude does have an impact on your life, but I don’t think I can build a foundation of positive thinking on my own self, because I know I’m ultimately unstable and unreliable.

  2. I guess I have to believe that what I’m doing is part of God’s plan (unless it’s something I that I know it obviously wrong, but most of those type of things happened when I was younger), so having faith in myself = having faith in God’s plan. At least I pray that His will be done and that I make the right decisions and be the best person/husband/brother/friend/uncle/etc that I can be. I could see where it might be empty and hollow to build a foundation upon oneself without God, but hopefully good God-fearing folks can keep a posistive attitude. I mean… isn’t that what most religion requires? …believe in an afterlife? With faith in that, what is there to fear? Or just knowing that God’s will be done, what is there to fret? Also, I don’t just think that other people respond better to someone who is positive, but I think that you responsd better to yourself if you’re positive. You are awesome, Phil – just gotta believe that! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Nate. I’m going through some life experience right now that’s been shaping how I think about things, so I can’t argue too strongly and pretend like I have all the answers. I do think any faith in myself has to continue past myself and go back to God’s design and purpose for me – I can’t dig deep into myself for long before I get depressed and overwhelmed. I often think of Peter on the Sea of Galilee, and how he sank when he looked at his feet and the waves, but was able to stand on the water when he looked at Jesus. If I can trust God that I was created the way I am for a purpose, and follow Jesus’ call in my life it’s a lot more stable ground for me than endlessly questioning what I want to do, what works for other people, what is going to make the most money, what will make my wife the most happy, etc. At least I think it will be more stable ground, and I’m testing the theory in real life, right now.

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