Another year has gone, and a new one is beginning. Looking back on the previous year, it came with it’s victories and defeats. Looking ahead, I know that there will be some of the same. However, a year is only a small amount of time in the overall grand scheme of life. We can always be guaranteed hardship no matter what we do, but it’s how we see and react to the hardship that determines our overall mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. How can we ever expect to be more, become more, and hope for more, if all we focus on is the negative? I might go as far as to say that our outlook on last year might easily determine our future success in the coming year. Our outlook on life, both past and present, will determine our success and fulfillment in the days to come.

What’s the point of always seeing the negative in things? What good will it do you or anyone around you? Negativity begets more negativity. The more we focus on the negative, the more our outlook on life will be negative. I’m going to be honest here, last year had its ups and downs. There were definitely times that were more difficult than others, but why should those times outweigh the good? I have been called a cynic many times, and cynics are known for seeing the negativity in life. However, cynics will tell you that they are actually “realists”. I know this, because that’s what I would say when I was accused of being cynical. In truth, cynicism is a disease, and it is one I must constantly fight against. I am bent toward cynicism, and I hate it. I have tried hard in the past few years to change my outlook on life. 

The outlook we have in life will determine our mental, emotional, and even our spiritual health. The more we focus on the negatives, the more negative our life will be. We can say we have a “realistic” outlook, but in reality, we choose whether or not our “reality” is negative or positive. It all depends on our mindset. When was the last time you actually reflected on all the positives in your life? Did you know there is a direct correlation between how we view our circumstances and our outlook on life? The more negativity we focus on, the more depressed, isolated, and hopeless we feel. This means that our mental health depends on our outlook on life. If all we see is the negative, then we are setting ourselves up for mental anguish and frustration.

Along with mental health is our emotional health. Always focusing on the negativity in life creates unhealthy, negative emotions. Negative emotions keep us from thinking rationally and keep us in a state of paranoia and fear. Negative emotions also make us irrational and lose all sense of logic and reason. Negative emotions keep us fixated on only the negative aspects of life and keep us from seeing the whole picture. The more negativity we focus on, the unhealthier we become.  Please don’t misunderstand me, negative emotions are part of the human experience, but when we choose to focus on only the negative, our emotional health begins to erode away. We need to keep a healthy balance of negative and positive emotions in our life, and that happens by having an outlook on life that shies away from cynicism.

Our outlook on life can also affect our spiritual well-being. The more cynical we become, the less hope we tend to feel. I do not consider myself to be a spiritual person. Rather, I hold fast to the value and importance of being in a relationship with YHWH. However, just like in any relationship, if all we focus on is the negativity, the relationship begins to deteriorate. It is hard to see the hope that is promised in Christ when all I focus on is the negative aspects in life. I can easily begin to lose my faith – all because of my cynical outlook on life. In reality, the more I fixate on the negative, the more I isolate myself from my God. It should be during the hard times in life that I should draw near to my God and remember His promises. However, a negative outlook produces a fatalistic mindset, which in turn removes all hope in one’s life.

A new year is upon us, and as Brad Paisley said one new year’s eve, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Every book will have its ups and downs, but no one enjoys reading a story that only focuses on the negative situations in life. Place just as much emphasis, if not more, on the positive parts throughout your life. Start simple. You woke up to a new day with breath in your lungs. Keep your perspective. Nothing is ever as bad as we think. As the saying goes, “Things could always be worse.” If you journal, make a list of the positive things that happened throughout the day/week. Force yourself to reflect on the good in your life. When negativity comes, instead of sharing these times on social media, find something to be grateful for, and share that. Your outlook on life will determine your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and your outlook on life is completely in your hands.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

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