“Individuals need to be willing to face truth about their attitudes, behaviors, even what we want out of life.” – Joyce Meyer
A friend of mine, Joann, has always had a positive attitude. She volunteered at a nonprofit organization where I worked. Her role was to answer incoming phone calls, greet visitors, and do any projects that I might give her. Occasionally I didn’t have work for her, and she’d say, “No problem! I have my book (or crossword puzzle) and will just take calls as they come in.”
Joann’s husband was gravely ill and she would say, “We’re so lucky that he’s still with us. We take it day by day.” She walked for 3 to 4 miles every day to take care of herself.
Eventually her husband’s condition deteriorated and Joann had to stop volunteering. She and her husband moved to a smaller home in a senior living facility. Shortly after they moved, he passed away.
I met Joann for a walk a few months after his death, and she told me about the socializing she’s been doing at her senior complex, her work creating a new garden, and her now 5-mile daily walks.
I said, “Joann, you must have some bad days!”
She answered, “Yes, I do, but I do better if I keep busy. And I find, when I go out, if I smile at people, they smile back, and we all feel uplifted.”
We can’t all handle our grief as well as Joann does, and I’m not suggesting we should. Grieving is difficult, and we all grieve in our own way. Rather, I am pointing out Joann’s overall attitude, and how pleasant it is to be around people like her.
We can learn from people with a good attitude like Joann. How often do we do the following?
- We come back from vacation complaining about the bad parts rather than the fun we experienced.
- We obsess over bad situations such as job loss.
- We go to lunch with friends and spend much of the time complaining.
Why do we do these things? Do we want attention, do we like drama, or what? Are we being fearful rather than trusting that all will be well in the long run?
We all do these things occasionally—at least I do. We need to vent sometimes. But it can’t be fun for other people to listen to our negativity if it is excessive.
When our lives change unexpectedly or bad things happen, we feel sorry for ourselves, and that’s natural. But we need to put a limit on our complaining and see if there might be a way to find some good in the situation, like my friend Joann does. Is there anything we can be grateful for? Sometimes we don’t see the possible good in a situation until afterwards. An example is that losing a job can be traumatic, but it may lead to a better job later. This has happened to me.
Let’s be aware of how we speak and think about our lives. Sometimes we don’t realize we are complaining too much. If this is true of you, there is no need to judge yourself. Just be aware of the behavior, and work to change it if you want to.
Have you had a bad situation turn out for the good? What are you grateful for today?
I was removed from a ministry at my church and it devastated me. That ministry meant everything to me and it had done wonderful things for me and my life. For a few years all I could do was cry and feel devastated about the changes that I saw as being so terrible. Then I decided to try to move on and I joined the choir. I had sung in the choir for years as a young person and I love to sing. I decided that I was joining the choir just for ME. I felt wonderful doing it. Last week we started singing for the first time since the summer break and I truly felt joyful going to that practice. I could hardly contain my joy all day! My husband and I also began to get more involved in Marriage Encounter ministry and that has been a blessing in our lives. I would probably not have taken that step to enter leadership in Marriage Encounter had I been so involved in that ministry I was cut from. At the time I did not understand why God would allow me to be hurt that way. But as I look back on it now, He wasn’t trying to hurt me. I was being pruned so that I could grow bigger and better fruit.
Cathy, I agree, you have grown bigger and better fruit. It’s a pleasure to see your smiling face in the choir and Interesting to see how your leadership has evolved and grown in Marriage Encounter.
It’s so hard to remember that in life things turn out for the better, especially when we are dealing with loss associated with death. That one is a big challenge to face. I so admire people like your friend Joann who can find the reasons to smile and move on in any situation.
Lori, I didn’t mean to suggest that a death could result in things turning out for the better or that we should put on a happy face in such a situation. I apologize if it sounded like I was implying that.
Susan I just love your article and your attitude! One experience I feel comfortable sharing happened to me several year ago when I was diagnosed with a rare degenerative eye disease and told there was no cure – that I’d be blind within a few months. I never gave in to it, instead we kept looking for options and found a surgeon that was performing an experimental procedure that might just work for me. My doctor was a very serious Asian gentleman who never smiled. For some reason, rather than focusing on the scary nature of my situation, I made it my mission to make him laugh … and I practiced on my fellow patience while waiting every visit. Making other people smile just did wonders for my own frame of mind. Long story short, the surgery was a complete success. In fact I hear it’s written up in journals. As an added bonus, I got my doctor to laugh right out loud on my last visit to his office – maybe by then it was relief, but I felt like I really accomplished something special when I heard him laugh.
Marquita, your courage is an inspiration! I’m glad the surgery was such a success — and that you got the very serious doctor to laugh. 🙂
Susan, this is a great article! Follows perfectly the sermon I heard at church last Sunday. It was on the unimportance of complaining. Why complain? Just be happy for another day to do the Lord’s work!
Always a pleasure to hear from you Sharla! Thanks for the visit.
Sue, always happy to read your blog. Very inspiring as usual. Love the pictures. Ann
Thank you much, Ann!
Your post reminds me how important it is to remember that my attitude in the difficult times is important. I may not be able to change the situation, but I can choose how I deal with it. Your friend is an inspiration. 🙂
“We all do these things occasionally—at least I do.”….Sincerely I do too 🙂 Am seriously working on this…