I used to view the world as one, big bully. People had rejected and failed me. Therefore, I believed people would continue to treat me this way. What I listened and looked for, I heard and saw–insults, bad news, rude drivers, and the friend who seemed to have time for everyone except me. Focusing on the negative inclined me to make statements like, “People suck,” “people are mean,” “people are idiots,” and “I don’t enjoy being around people.” When I didn’t feel loved and respected by others, it was easy to be hard on them. Because my conversations frequently included these kinds of generalizations and complaints, I only attracted more negativity, contaminated others, and built my beliefs opposite of what I desired. I could hardly stand to listen to myself, so I changed what I didn’t like.
Seeing good in people isn’t always easy. It may feel downright unnatural. We don’t have to deny that the world is messed up. We can, however, choose to think oppositely in order to achieve different results in our personal environments. It takes practice, but it can be accomplished. When we stop accepting our negativity, we free ourselves to demonstrate and verbalize grace toward others and start looking for “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). More often than not, goodness attracts goodness. It’s out there; I promise you because I look for it and live it. Now, I see more people pushing each others’ grocery carts back to the corral, more courteous drivers, more smiles and “hellos,” high-fives, hugs, and help. If I can’t seem to find the good I’m looking for, I create it myself. Looking for the good doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to crazy drivers, rude people, hate, or important issues. But believing people are hopeless never got me anywhere but discouraged, lonely, and limited. Believing in the good in people contributes to the change I wish to be and see in the world. It refocuses my vision on the power of the Lord and his ability to work through human beings to bring out the best in each other.
What is one negative thought, word, or phrase you use frequently? What is an opposite word or phrase that will replace it? Start today.
In what ways can you contribute to “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”?