The resolution that gives back

By Adam Colwell

Special to The PREVIEW

It’s true. No matter how much I try, I can’t control the circumstances that’ll come my way this year.

I’ll want to.

I’ll manipulate.

I’ll contrive.

I’ll wring my hands in frustration.

But, I still can’t control them. That’s just the way it is.

I have resolved, however, to take charge of what I can control — my attitude — and be more optimistic.

Why optimism?

For one thing, it’s better than the alternative. The Chicago Tribune once reported on an interesting study in which a British psychiatrist named Giles Croft set out to discover if people who believe in the reality of the “Monday Blues” were actually more likely to feel bad on Monday. He formed three groups of volunteers. One was given a report that stated Monday blues are real; the second was given an article refuting the existence of Monday blues; the final group was given nothing at all.

Guess what happened?

The first group was more likely to rate Monday as the worst day of the week.

This study simply confirms a Biblical truth: what I believe is crucial! If my mind is set on the idea that Monday is always going to be a rotten, stressful day, odds are good it will be … but only because my attitude is dictating my outlook.

Secondly, I choose optimism because my endeavors might lead to greater things.

Christopher Columbus, searching for a direct route to Asia, stumbled onto the Americas.

Thomas Edison invented a phonograph while looking to create an electric light.

When Benjamin Franklin saw a spark while flying a kite during a storm, he started an industry.

Bertrand Piccard, who with Brian Jones became the first to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon, once compared balloon flight and daily life.

“In the balloon,” he said, “you are prisoners of the wind, and you go only in the direction of the wind. In life people think they are prisoners of circumstance. But in the balloon, as in life, you can change altitude, and when you change altitude, you change direction. You are not a prisoner anymore.”

Finally, the Bible tells me to be optimistic … particularly when it comes to serving God.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the believers in Ephesus, “to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23). He urges the Christians in Rome to, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” in order to,“test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

He writes in Philippians 4:8, “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.”

Notice that Paul’s command is not based on how I’m feeling at the time. He’s teaching me to make a conscious decision to predetermine what I will think about. Plus, all the attributes he lists in this passage — truth, purity, loveliness — automatically establish optimism in my thinking, transforming my outlook.

So, I’ve made up my mind: Heading into this next year, one sure to be rife with joys and challenges, I’ve decided to be optimistic.

It’s the resolution that’ll give back to me — in the form of a positive and proactive attitude.

This story was posted on September 26, 2012.