20 Ways To Make Every Day Better
#1 New York Times bestselling author Joyce Meyer shares powerful, practical ways to experience a new level of joy and excitement about life every day.
The traffic is backed up, the kids are screaming, and the car is making a funny noise again. Any one of these challenges can test our temperament and rob us of joy. Our impulse is to write today off and hope for a better tomorrow. However, this creates a hard pattern to break. One terrible day easily turns into many-and soon we’re living a life far from what God has in mind for us. A new, transforming sense of excitement, happiness, and contentment in our lives is possible when we pursue God’s goodness each day. In 20 WAYS TO MAKE EVERY DAY BETTER, Joyce Meyer shares biblical illustrations, actionable advice, uplifting stories, and the encouragement we need to start enjoying the life God created for us.
Extraxt from the book:
C H A P T E R 1 4
My dear friend, clear your mind of “can’t.” — Samuel Johnson
You and I have more choices in life than we realize. We might not be able to choose everything we experience on a given day — the weather, our job assignments, the disposition of others around us, what takes place in the news — but we do get to choose how we respond to those experiences. I recently came across a great reminder about the power of our choices:
I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do. I have responsibilities to fulfill— my job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.
Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
Today I can feel sad that I don’t have more money or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.
Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.
Today I can mourn my lack of friends or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.
Today I can whine because I have to go to work or I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.
Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or I can appreciate that I have a place to call home.
Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping. What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day I will have!
I love this outlook on life! Sure, there are lots of negative things that happen around us, but we don’t have to focus on the negative . . . we can choose to see the positive! This is not just a “good idea”— this is God’s will for our lives. Philippians 4:8 says that
whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].
Those adjectives — “true,” “honorable,” “pure,” “lovely,” “kind,” and so on— those are all positive things. God instructs us to fix our minds on the good things in our lives . . . not the bad. There is no getting around this truth: Your outlook on life determines what kind of life you will have!
I was taught to be negative when I was growing up. I lived in an abusive atmosphere with negative people, alcoholism, fear, and lots of arguing. As a result, I developed an attitude went something like this: It’s better to expect nothing good than to expect something good and be disappointed when it doesn’t happen. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized negativity was a destructive force in my life. I wanted my circumstances to be different, but eventually I learned that God wanted me to be different. Even when something good did happen, I ruined it, wondering how long it would take for something to go wrong.
I am so grateful not to be a negative-thinking person any longer, and I feel certain that if I can change, anybody can change!
Negativity sucks the energy out of life. It actually drains our physical energy and steals our joy. There are no negative people who are going to have a good day today! It is simply not possible.
Each of us is faced daily with negative things and people, but we can choose to reject a negative outlook, and with God’s help we can believe that good things are happening all around us if we will only take the time to see them. We can live lives filled with hope.
Hope is more than wishful thinking. Hope is a favorable and confident expectation; it’s an expectant attitude that something good is going to happen and things will work out, no matter what situation we’re facing. The more we choose hope, the better our lives will be. Samuel Smiles, a renowned nineteenth-century Scottish author, once said, “Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.”7 And he was 100 percent right. Hope dispels the darkness and gives us the strength to believe for something better. You don’t have to wait for someone to come and give you hope, you can decide to have all of it you want right now. All you need to do is change your thinking!
One of my favorite ways to think of hope comes from Zechariah 9:12. This Scripture says, “Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.”
I really like that phrase: prisoners of hope. Think about it . . . a prisoner of hope is surrounded by hope. He has no other option — hope is his entire environment. And when times are tough or you’re dealing with disappointment, a prisoner of hope will rise up in faith and say, “God, I praise You, and I believe You’re working on this situation and working in me. I’m a prisoner of hope! My faith, trust, and hope are all in You!”
I am convinced that God can and will help each of us become as positive as He is! Just imagine how wonderful that will be. Do you know that God has never had even one negative thought about you! What if we could say that about our thoughts for ourselves, or others? Being around negativity is actually annoying to me now, but I once was so negative that if I accidentally thought even two positive thoughts in succession my mind rebelled. It never ceases to amaze me how much God can change us. It is one of the greatest miracles we can ever witness! His Word says that He gives us a new nature, and puts His Spirit within us (see 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 2:12). So why is it so hard to actually believe that we can learn to behave in an entirely new way?
Choose the Positive over the Negative Every Time
Just because a negative thought pops into your head, you don’t have to dwell on it. You have a choice to make. Am I going to sit here and focus on this negative idea . . . or am I going to choose something positive instead? This is true in every area of your life. In your thoughts, your words, your actions, your attitude, your relationships — you can choose to be a positive person. Here are three steps to take when choosing the positive over the negative:
1. Identify your obstacles of negativity.
Have you ever doubted that anything good was going to happen to you? Maybe you’ve even said things like, “I never get any good breaks,” or “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” These thoughts are obstacles in your mind, and simply recognizing them will pave the way to your freedom. As Christians, we can learn to fight for our thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says:
[We] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Our minds don’t automatically come into agreement with God’s plans; we will deal with negative thoughts at times. But we can choose to bring any negative thoughts “captive into the obedience of Christ.”
We need God’s help in recognizing any negativity in our lives. Sometimes we have been that way for so long that we don’t even realize it is not the right way to be. We may think, Well, of course I am negative. Everything in the world is negative!
How can I be positive with so much violence, war, crime, and dishonesty all around me? That is exactly the point! It is all around us, but it doesn’t have to get “in” us unless we allow it to.
2. Regularly practice positivity.
Once you’ve identified obstacles of negative thinking and negative expectations, the next step is to start practicing being positive in all kinds of situations. Cheer up, have a good attitude, laugh, encourage others, get your hopes up — these are all ways to practice positivity. I saw a sign one time that said, “There are 86,400 seconds in a day — have you used one of them to smile?”
Even when you’re going through a difficult time in life, you can have a positive outlook. The most positive people still deal with disappointing situations. The difference is that they have learned to trust God and enjoy life no matter what happens. We can choose to worry or to trust God, and my experience has taught me that worry changes nothing, therefore trusting God must be better! If you want to have a joyful attitude, it all begins with trusting God. God is working on your problems, so why not go ahead and enjoy your day!
3. Declare God’s promises.
A positive life is not only thinking positive, God-honoring thoughts. It’s just as important to speak positive, faith-filled words. Nearly everything God has brought me through has happened by believing and confessing His Word. That’s why I encourage you to not only purposely think right thoughts, but that you go the extra mile and speak them out loud as personal confessions of faith.
- When you’re not sure what decision to make, proclaim, “I know God will give me the wisdom I need!”
- When the bills are piling up and the bank account is running low, proclaim, “I trust God. He will provide everything we need!”
- When other people are complaining about their job, reply, “Well, I’m glad I have a job. It may not be perfect but I am thankful for it!”
- When you’re feeling tired and run-down, tell a friend, “I’m going to get some extra rest tonight, and I’m hopeful tomorrow will be a better day!
Anybody can spew negative words around, but that’s why so many people are unhappy — they are doing what anybody can do. I encourage you to be one of the few people who speak out God’s promises rather than rehearsing your problems repeatedly throughout the day.
It’s this decision to speak positive, faith-filled words that will brighten your day and boost your own faith that God has better things in store.
Choose the Process of Change
Like many of the decisions we’ve talked about so far in this book, rejecting negativity doesn’t come naturally for most of us . . . and it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes a lot of practice. It’s a process. There will be days that are challenging, but keep rejecting negativity and enjoy where you are at, on the way to where you are going!
When I think about the process of personal change, I often think about Peter. God did quite a work in the life of Peter. Peter was transformed from a blunt, aggressive, mistake-prone fisherman into the preacher at Pentecost and a pillar of the early church. He made mistakes along the way — keeping the children from Jesus (see Matthew 19:14), taking his eyes of Jesus and sinking (see Matthew 14:30), resorting to violence (see John 18:10), denying he knew the Lord (see Luke 22)— but he learned through each of them. Peter didn’t give up; he allowed God to change him. But it didn’t happen in one day . . . one month . . . or even one year. It was a process.
When a baby is learning to walk, he falls many, many times before he gains the confidence to walk. Failing from time to time (which you will do) doesn’t mean you’re a failure; it means you’re learning. It simply means that you don’t do everything right all the time. But neither does anyone else.
If you’ve been accustomed to thinking and speaking negatively, the pathway to your freedom begins when you face the problem without making excuses for it. Embrace the process of change and be determined to learn something new about being positive each and every day. As you change your outlook from negative to positive, your words, actions, and attitude will change . . . and so will your life! This is one way to definitely make any day better!
Things to remember:
- We don’t get to choose everything we experience on a given day, but we do get to choose how we respond to those experiences.
- Hope is a favorable and confident expectation; it’s an expectant attitude that something good is going to happen and things will work out, no matter what situation we’re facing.
- In your thoughts, your words, your actions, your attitude, your relationships — you can choose to be a positive person.
- A positive life is not only thinking positive, God-honoring thoughts. It’s just as important to speak positive, faith-filled words.
Suggestions for Putting “Reject Negativity” into Practice
- Think of things you refuse to let into your house: muddy shoes, flies and mosquitoes, pushy salespeople, and so on. Now add “negativity” to that list. Tell your family, “Negativity is no longer allowed in our house.”
- Rather than dreading all the things that might go wrong, why not make a list of all the things you are hoping will go right today.
- Change is a process, but sometimes we can get discouraged when we think about how much further we have to go. As an exercise to encourage you, instead of looking at how much further you have to go . . . look at how far you’ve already come. Ten years ago, five years ago, five months ago — look at how far God has brought you!
This extract was taken from 20 Ways To Make Every Day Better by Joyce Meyer. To purchase this book, please visit www.cumbooks.co.za.