A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘pessimism

I’ve acknowledged here before that I’m not an optimist. Sometimes I struggle to see the good in people and their motives and instead dwell on thoughtless actions and unkind words.

And so a verse that I read this morning seemed written for me:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

~ Philippians 4:8*

People like me need to work harder than optimists do to see the true, lovely and praiseworthy things out there. So how can we do that?

  • Watch the local news. Not at the top of the hour, but halfway through the newscast. That’s when the heartwarming stories air—spots about people raising funds for charity or serving in developing countries, for example.
  • Look for good-news sections in the community and local papers. These offer encouraging news about good work being carried out in the area, such as the rallying of the community around a family struggling with illness or loss or the progress of clothing, toy or food drives.
  • Read a positive magazine such as live happy for stories of people making a difference and suggestions of inspiring books, films or music to check out.
  • Pray that God would open our hearts—and our eyes—to see beyond the gloom and doom the media often serve up. We need to know about world events, but tragedy and disaster aren’t the whole story.
  • Find role models and mentors in our parish, workplace and community to encourage and inspire us. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.” And then ask God how and where he would have us serve to bring more true, just and lovely things into others’ lives and our own.
double rainbow

A double rainbow after last night’s storm

As we work to develop a more positive outlook, may we remember that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

A few days ago, I heard a radio host say that many people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions.

I guess listeners could react to that in a few different ways:

  • “I don’t bother making resolutions. It’s a waste of time.”
  • “At least I’m not alone.”
  • “Hey, thanks for the encouragement!” (Heavy with sarcasm.) “I’m still trying to keep my resolutions.”

I fall into group number three. And being something of a pessimist, one thing I don’t need is any help in the discouragement department.

What I do need is to make another resolution for this year: to get rid of the old and make room for the new. I don’t mean physical clutter—I mean the mental baggage that holds me back from following the path God has planned for me.

My clutter is negative self-talk. The kind that tells me not to speak up because people wouldn’t be interested in hearing my thoughts. Not to volunteer my help because someone else could certainly do the job better. Not to try because I’m sure to fail. And the list goes on.

Even though it would never cross my mind to talk to someone else like this, at some point I decided it’s okay to speak to myself this way. Sad to say, I’m sure I’m not the only person who knows how hard it is to make good use of your gifts when these are the messages you fill your head with.

But I know there’s a better choice. Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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