By: Gail Armatys, HeartSong Life Coach
Today, I invite you to join me not only to take time to plan for a new year but to reflect first…and then refresh. Reflect on the good you experienced last year and step forward into 2015 with fresh expectations and a positive outlook.
Hold on! Don’t stop reading. This isn’t about goal setting, although I’m a believer in such things. This is a bit different. Keep going!
As a life coach who bases my practice on Christian principles and spiritual practices such as prayer and worship, plus the advantage of having lived more than a few years, I have evidenced the power of a positive approach to life. Reflecting on goodness and blessing and then carrying that positive mind-set into the coming year strengthens and encourages us as we live our lives.
I will tell you, that often this is a more difficult thing to do (primarily because of pride) than to say, but focusing on what is good, even in the face of trial – no, especially in the face of trial – is imperative to a life of peace and fulfillment.
Recently, my husband told me he was in the process of memorizing Philippians 4:8-9. Probably because at that particular time I had been thinking negatively about something I was experiencing. Actually, I didn’t know it at the time, but I think he and God were purposefully teaming up to give me some positive momentum.
Anyway, I thought it was a great idea so I decided I would join him. The next day, he was astounded that I could recite these verses aloud (forgot to mention to him that I’d memorized them some years before so maybe it was a bit easier to recall…oops!). Here is the scripture.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
God knows that it is to our benefit to spend our time in positive thought. This doesn’t mean he expects us to walk around willy-nilly with our heads in the clouds.
What it means is that he cares for us, desires to protect us from evil, and because he is the Ultimate Good (and good has nothing to do with evil), he joins with us as we make goodness our focus. Make sense?
God actually tells us this in verse nine of Philippians 4. In Gail-speak he says, when you think on these good and admirable and lovely things and when you do the good that you’ve seen and learned, I – the God of peace – will be with you.
At first, both my husband and I thought this last piece of the verse was telling us that the peace of God would be with us if we do these things. But that’s not what the scripture says. God tells us that he, the God of peace, the person of God, will be with us as we put what we’ve seen, learned, heard, and received into practice.
Wouldn’t you like to start the new year knowing that as you are obedient to the call to focus on the good and positive, God is with you – and as a result – peace is, too?
Supported by Science
I’m currently reading a book called The Happiness Advantage. This book informs that in recent years there has been much research and work done in the field of positive psychology and neuroscience that has proven that “happiness is a precursor to success” and that “optimism fuels performance.” This is quite interesting as more often in our culture we think that success brings happiness. In fact, it’s the other way around; happiness brings success.
S. Achor, the author, defines a variety of experiments and experiences to authenticate this truth. In trials and hard times, a person’s level of optimism affects the outcome of the experience. If we think the negative situation is only going to remain negative or get worse, it tends to do just that. But, if we believe the trial or setback can bring about good in one form or another and we capitalize on the experience seeking to move forward, good things will result. Which reminds me of another scripture…
“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.”
God has clearly planned for good to come to us. Could it be that what we must do is love God, believe good can come from difficulty, think on such good things – in other words think positively especially in the trial – and put into action what we’ve learned?
If so, here are two practical steps to help you do just that.
Step One: Reflect
Here it is, 2015, and like me, you want to have a pull-out-all-the-stops banner year. Well, at the very least, you want things to go well. You’re hoping for good. Let me help you make that happen by suggesting you reflect.
Between football games and even more great holiday food, take a few minutes today and write down as many positive things as you can remember about 2014. You may have pages of things listed. Or maybe it’s been a tough year financially, physically, emotionally…but still in all, if you think about it you can come up with at least 3 positive experiences or outcomes.
Write them down. Reminisce on them for a while. Give thanks for them.
Allow yourself to rest and reflect on these thoughts for a minute or two. They are truths. Be grateful to God for his goodness and the goodness in your life.
Step Two: Refresh
Write at least 3 or more positive statements about your life expectations in 2015. They may be work-related, relationship-based, or involve personal physical, emotional or spiritual situations. No matter the topic, they must be stated in an affirmative manner and propose positive outcomes!
“I expect that in 2015 I will be the winner of the ‘giving-game’ in our marriage. I will focus on giving more than I receive.”
“I expect that I will take better care of my body and have 2 pieces of dark chocolate a day rather than a bowl of ice cream smothered in fudge every night.”
“I expect to get up earlier each morning to include time alone with you before I step out into my day and look for the good you have prepared for me.”
No judgment here! These are just made-up examples.
Refresh in 2015 by beginning with great expectations. Find the statements that work for your life and then remind yourself of the greatest benefit from adopting positive thinking and positive doing…
The God of peace with you.
Thank you, God, that we may read, learn, and fill our hearts with your goodness. Forgive us for sometimes getting stuck in the negative. Thank you for your promise to be with us as we think on things admirable, noble, and true – and then step out faithfully to do what you’ve shown and taught us. Thank you for the blessings of 2014 and your goodness awaiting us in the New Year. We praise your glorious name and seek to obey your calling to live a positively expectant life! In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Reflect and refresh as described above. Write down any change in feelings that you may notice as you rest on your positive remembrances from 2014. Commit to writing down and living your positive expectations and receiving the God of peace.
Listen to your HeartSong here: Good Morning/Mandisa
Live the song written on your Heart.