As a child, you may have had the common experience of being reprimanded by an adult for the one thing that was not in place against the backdrop of everything else that was OK. For example, the one bucket that you didn’t put away, or the one unwashed plate left in the sink versus all the chores you did do. Mom comes home and without acknowledging any of your other efforts, focuses on that one thing undone. Or take for example a task or performance you did and you receive comments/feedback. If there is a comment amidst other great reviews, you would tend to get hung up on that one negative piece. You give a good presentation (for the most part) that is marred by a slip-up. When you’re done, what are you likely to fixate on - you slip-up right!
You see someone and what immediately jumps out at you - anything that is out of place: the tie that is askew, the smudged makeup, the missing earring, the mismatched buttons to buttonhole, etc. Even though everything else they’re wearing may just be perfect but just that one thing. You may also have noticed that what makes news is (more often than not) the negative.
And as we watch the news and are bombarded with so much negativity, it would appear that everything in the world is wrong, chaotic, wicked. But have you paused to consider that for every bad thing that one person does, there are tons of people doing good stuff and these of course hardly if ever make the news. Isn't it amazing how the mind is so quick to latch onto the negative - It's like the mind is set on fault-finding mode by default!
By default we see, think of, dwell on and fixate on the negatives, the inadequacies, the weakness, the messy, the not-so-good, etc. To think otherwise takes some effort and often outright determination, hence the admonition in Philippians 4:8. It's really a choice to major on the good even when the not-so-good also presents itself. But when we do so, we add more value to the lives around us; we are more confident and secure in God and in ourselves; we feel much better with life amidst the challenges; and our faith is fired up too! Let's reset our mind's mode from the default setting to the setting that reads "Whatever things are POSITIVE!
In a nutshell: In life, there’s so much more that’s uplifting than discouraging; so much more to be thankful for than the things that didn’t turn out as expected; numerous blessings from God to marvel at; lots of abilities, strengths and beauty in us and the people around us to appreciate and tons of sure promises from God to appropriate. Our wellbeing is dependent on what we focus on. Let’s remember that while unwanted thoughts can come to mind, we do have a choice on what to have our thoughts dwell on.
8 For the rest, brethren, 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]. - [Philippians 4:8; Amplified]
To do: Be intentional about what you think about.