Years ago, my sister-i- law had a medical emergency. She was bleeding profusely, but she still had the presence of mind to tell her husband her blood type. She managed to say, B positive. Her husband, worried as he was, replied, “I'm trying to be, honey!”
If only we could all try to be positive all the time, even in times of hardship!
This is a big struggle for almost of us. In fact, as Elder Holland said,
We should honor the Savior's declaration to “be of good cheer.” (Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!)
(Ensign, May 2007, “The Tongue of Angels“)
When we are so blessed with the gospel, why do we complain? Why do we whine, snap, moan, criticize, argue, embarrass, rebuke, gossip, and so on? Isn't it very clear that we are to be above that? Yet why do we keep doing it? And worse, why are our kids doing it too? (That's worse, because it means we're giving them that example!)
I recently read As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. It's a short quick read, but so true. It's been recommended and quoted by many of the prophets and apostles, and I figured it was about time to read it. And if you haven't yet, I'll make it easy. Read it free online here. It's based on Proverbs 23:7, which says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This little book shows how what you think makes what you are.
In The Book of Nurturing by Linda and Richard Eyre, they gave a great example of a woman who had had a less-than-wonderful upbringing. She was determined not to pass that on to her children, and even though she was a little rough around the edges, she wrote a description of the mother she wanted to be. She read that every day, and soon she was that mother, because she had read it so much that it changed her thinking until she was that person. While these positive affirmations sound really cheesy, they really do work.
There are so many great reasons to become a more positive thinker. Norman Vincent Peale gives you a hundred great ones in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking. The Secret promises you success in all areas of your life. Even the YM/YW theme for 2007 gives you a marvelous promise,
…let virtue garnish they thoughts unceasingly, then shall they confidence wax strong in the presence of God, and the doctrines of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews of heaven.
This is supposed to be an education column, so here's the tie-in. The longer I teach my kids, the more I realize that more important than academics, is teaching children to live by the spirit. And one part of that is teaching them to be positive, and to have the faith, hope and charity they need to progress in this life and the next. I have several children who tend to see the cup completely empty. A be positive would be a better grade to earn than an A!
Unfortunately, there's no quick easy answer to becoming more positive. Nor is there a simple way to teach your children so. Obviously example is a huge part of it. If we get upset when they aren't positive, what does that teach them? I believe that if we want to truly live the gospel, we must make a conscious effort to become more positive. We have to do the things we're supposed to be doing, we need to pray, listen to uplifting music, study our scriptures, serve others etc. But more importantly, we need to change our hearts. And the only way to do that is through the atonement of Christ. Elder Bednar gave a wonderful talk in the most recent conference where he said,
Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior's Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better.
(Ensign, November 2007, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart“)
Have a positive and thus happy new year!