In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Be happy, not because everything is good, but because you can see the good in everything.” (From CCS)
It is not always easy to see the good in people or situations that arise during the day. In fact, the easy way out is to just see and react negatively to the bad that you might encounter. It is unfortunately that so many (and I include myself in this group) tend to take the easy way out. We dismiss the hateful or unhappy people that we encounter without taking the time to think about what may be making them angry, hateful or unhappy, Moreover, because it is so easy to just dismiss them and move on, we seldom even consider what we could do to help them or to change their mindset. In the case of situations, it is often easier to bypass them than to try to resolve them in a good way.
Avoiding situations and people is certainly not a way to happiness; perhaps not even a way to avoid unhappiness. Spending the time and mental effort to find the good that is in people and situations forces us not only to think about what we are facing, but also to reflect on the reactions that we are having to them. We need to understand and deal with our own feelings of fear or dislike or disgust first, before we can begin to take any positive actions or see the good in the situation.
We label some people as Pollyanna’s because they always see the good, are always happy and seldom react negatively to people or situations. They are happy people, no matter what. Others might be called a “Gloomy Gus” or “Negative Nellie”, because they see the bad in almost everything. They are seldom happy people. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, if those two extremes define a spectrum. Whether you tend toward the Pollyanna end or the Gloomy Gus end sort of defines what people see in you as you react to the world around you.
The good news is that we have some control over ourselves and over the perceptions that others will have of us. A simple technique is to stop and ask yourself the question, “Where is the good in all of this?” Try to see the good in that person that you just encountered before letting stereotypes and prejudices take over your reaction to them. Look for the best possible outcome to a situation, before getting defensive about a possible negative outcome. To find and see the good, you have to look for it.
Just building that pause and reflection into your life will make an immediate change. Prejudices are built upon unsubstantiated and unthinking reactions to people, based largely on initial visual cues – color, hairstyle, tattoos, nose rings, clothing and other factors can cause immediate reactions. Stop! Think! Do not allow yourself to react based solely upon those cues. Realize that those cues are triggers and the preconceived notions attached to them that have baked themselves into your brain are trying to control you. In most cases, that reaction tries to happen before you have even spoken to that person. Stop it! Look for the good. Say hello. Be friendly. Surprise yourself and you may be surprised at the good person that you have just met.
Today, before you start out, stop, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you will look for the good in people and in the situations that unfold in your life. Make that conscious effort in each encounter or situation to stop and look for the good. See if you aren’t a happier person at the end of that day. Then repeat.
If you look for the good, you will find it.