“A healthy attitude is contagious, but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” (Tom Stoppard)
The attitudes of others impact us – either for good or bad. People will either bring us up or bring us down – just as we have a similar affect on them.
I appreciate that Stoppard distinguished a “healthy attitude” from a “good” one. Yes, Christians ought to be among the most joyful people around. However, I’ve known some who think it’s wrong to express a negative thought, to frown, admit discouragement, defeat, or heartache. Not only is that too much pressure to live under, it’s also a hypocritical deception. Life hurts. Christians suffer. Our loved ones also die, etc. We don’t need to pretend otherwise.
A healthy attitude allows for the realities of life. We can acknowledge the hurts and disappointments. We can take the necessary time to mourn, cry out to God, and call upon a friend’s listening ear. We can allow God and others to help us put our situation into a broader perspective, change what we can, and then move on with life the best we know how.
While there’s no step-by-step plan to follow every time, I’ve often found these words from Paul to be a good way to maintain a healthy attitude.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
This verse presupposes that if there are true things to focus on, there are also false things. If there are just things, there are also unjust, etc. God is a realist – He knows life is a mixed bag of good and evil – so He tells us to focus on what is good.
Lastly, Stoppard encourages us not to wait for others to help us with our attitude, but that we should take an active lead in the process. Good advice.
So how’s your attitude? If it’s not the best, how could thinking about “whatever” is good help? –Dave
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