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Dear Future Self:

It seems everywhere we turn nowadays we are inundated with bad attitudes. Whether we are talking about politics, racism, discrimination, crime, religion, or any other topic, we are living in tense times; and having to deal with this while navigating a pandemic only heightens the emotions.

I do not want to talk about my personal position on any of these topics, but rather our attitudes towards these topics and each other. I really have tried keeping a positive attitude, although family and friends may think otherwise, but having a patient and kind attitude has been elusive – to say the least. I feel I have done fairly well at avoiding sharing my thoughts on social media or with others who I know wouldn’t agree with me. And while I have tried to maintain an optimistic attitude, the constant pecking by the naysayers is getting under my skin. I fear the frustration has begun to build a nest in me. Unfortunately, many people are so negative and angry that agreeing with them is far more convenient than trying to argue the point. Unfortunately, giving into them only rubs off on me.  

The problem is that the negativity has eaten away at me over time, and I don’t like the attitude that has been forming in me. I believe the same could be true for many people, which is why we see people suddenly overreact when talking to someone. It’s not that one conversation, but rather the build-up of frustration over time. 

The truth is that we would be much healthier mentally and physically if we could genuinely have a positive attitude. I don’t have the easy answer to maintaining a healthy, positive attitude, but I do know that our attitude, spoken or unspoken, often determines what type of life we will live. If we speak out on everything we disagree with, then the anger that exists in our society today will only increase. However, if we just hold in our frustrations, then the build-up over time is very unhealthy.

What I know needs to change is the attitude inside me. In the end my inner attitude will be reflected on the outside – maybe not right away, but eventually. My attitude needs to be true and genuine. In short, I need to be more like a Christian, rather than just outwardly act like one.

I have met people that seem to have the ability to always stay genuinely positive, no matter how bad the circumstances, and it’s a trait that the world desperately needs right now. It doesn’t mean we need to let people walk all over us, but it does mean we need to represent our Lord and Savior in a way that would bring Him honor and glory.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

When we can’t control what is happening around us, all we can do is check our attitude. Nobody is conspiring to personally make us mad, and so to take things personally would be fruitless. We have a choice. If we aspire to be kind, then we will be in a much better place mentally. However, if we aspire to be angry and bitter, the world around us will meet our expectations.  

Our growth in developing a genuine positive attitude, both inside and out, is particularly vital in navigating the hot topics in society today. I am sure there may be some setbacks along the way, but we must find strength in Him, because how we respond will show who we are as Christians.

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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