30
Jun
2011
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What is your attitude?

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One time I was telling someone I would like to win the lotto of 40 million dollars.  They said, “I would not want to pay all the taxes on that money.”  I said, “You have got to be kidding.  If you paid 50% you would still be 20 million dollars richer.”  They were serious in the fact that they would not want to win the money due to all the taxes they would have to pay.

Have you ever met someone with an attitude that no matter what they say, they always find the negative in any situation?

This event caused the nation of Israel to wonder for years:  But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31 (NIV)

This event caused a wall to be rebuilt and the enemy to fall: So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. Nehemiah 4:6 (NIV)

How is your attitude when ideas come your way?  What do you do when you think about things?  Do you look for the negative or the positive?  How can you improve?

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1 Response

  1. The Spindrifter

    As with most things in life, the truth usually rests pretty close to middle ground. “The Power Of Positive Thinking” is a fairy tale that can’t re-write reality, no matter how much New-Agers wish it were true. However, the opposite is also a problem, in that always seeing the negative and living in that place is a guaranteed recipé for failure.

    I have always been of the opinion that a healthy balance of skepticism and optimism will get you places that one extreme or the other will not; I call this being realistic. Some time you just have to take a leap of faith, because great rewards or accomplishments can never come without great risk. Sadly the flip side of this is that with great risk can often come great failure. The question I would ask is, how often are you willing to fail, in order to one day get that one really great success that makes up for the losses?

    I know a man whose father is a lifetime gambler, and you might even call him a professional gambler. This man is far from stupid, in that he knows statistics, plays odds, and realistically knows how to cut his losses. He has also documented *every single gamble* he has made over a 40+ year career. His end result? He has just about broken even. Anyone who can do math should know that the Lottery is a tax on the poor and stupid, and that the House always wins in the end. What is my point to all this? You would think that a “smart gambler” would learn that after 40+ years of just… breaking even, and knowing it, that he would find a new hobby, but it turns out that he was never in it for some illusion of promised ‘ultimate payoff’, so much as for entertainment value. The man just plain loves to gamble! (I would file this under the category of “it’s not the kill, it’s the thrill of the hunt”.)

    For most people, the gambling is about some bizarre mix in a faith-like belief that somehow they will be the one “blessed” to beat the odds, or that the normal rules of physics do not apply to them. The average gambler needs a reality check, in that in real life, they are ten times more likely to be struck by lightning than win, and perhaps that their time and money would be better spent elsewhere. And yet for most gamblers who are told this, their irrational ‘faith’ in the win that will make up for the losses persists. Who can know why?

    But most Atheists will say that the average religious person is no better, holding out for “some invisible sky wizard to grant their wishes and ‘prayers'”, and is on the same level as the irrational gambler. IS that true? Is there a ‘payoff’ with God?

    What would you, the typical reader of this blog say to that?

    Moving on, let’s look at the negativity aspect. Every person has that one (hopefully no more than that) “psychic vampire” in their lives that seems to feed off of negativity, doom, gloom, despair, sorrow, failure, hopelessness, and general “Can’t Do” attitude. Is that realistic? We do seem to live in a world where the evil people flourish, whether they be violent offenders who get let out on early parole, or Bankers at places like JP Morgan-Chase or CitiBank, who have gotten rich by looting the system while simultaneously bringing the country to the verge of collapse, and yet never do a day of time for their crimes. The average man in America will be a wage slave from birth to death, and “justice” is bought for either a bribe or the cost of a high-end legal team. Whole countries are exploited for their resources by a few malignant empires, and 10% of the world’s population consumes 90% of the planet’s resources.

    I could list *hundreds* of statistical facts that show that this world, and all of its soon-to-be 9 Billion inhabitants are on the verge of catastrophe, and that there is little hope for the future unless you are one of the chosen few. But is that a solid reason to live in the shadows of life and resign one’s self to accepting a bleak fate? Or can we, or God, or we and God working together, re-write the future, change what is happening around us and make a real difference for the better, and not accept some statistical fate?

    The gambler that I referenced earlier had never given up on winning back just enough of his losses to stay in the game. He was smart, and kept playing, managing to beat the odds just enough to never get taken down the typical road of total failure that gambling usually leads to. Not everyone can do that– not all humans have that kind of talent; but we all have some kind of God-given talent that we can use to make the world a better place for someone. Being positive all the time is a way to not let the awfulness of this life destroy our dignity and internal spark that can be used to start fires anew. It isn’t a realistic way to live, but it sure beats being a Debbie Downer.

    Living in the negative all the time is a guarantee of never being disappointed; it’s too realistic, in a way where you set the bar so low, one can only be surprised when something actually goes right… but would one see something better, if you spent all of your time just seeing the bad in everything? Being skeptical is okay, but being cynical is a sin against potential good.

    The humanist would likely say that the power to make things better rests squarely within one’s self, that there is no fate, and that only YOU have the power to change the future for the better. It’s an interesting point, and certainly one will never succeed if one never tries; if you aim at nothing, you will certainly hit that target! But is that enough?

    In a world where the Christian world view is that man will always fall short of the mark, miss the target, try and try again and yet fail, history has been remarkably consistent about proving said view correct. So where is the hope? Man can only do so much. Being a pessimist is a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom. Being an optimist is borderline insanity in the face of a conflicting reality. Where is the balance? The Christian would say that only serving God will set things right, and that only God living in us can overcome our penchant for failure, and help us do what we cannot do on our own.

    Rob Bell recently made waves with a book that says that God ultimately wins in the end, and that in such a manner He will triumph even over hell in the lives of every human. Classical Christianity takes into account free will, and that we can also have the freedom to not choose God, and thus suffer the consequences, and that in such a world with such choices, there will be those who would rather do evil, both knowingly or unknowingly. In a world of free choice, constantly choosing to be the pessimist because it’s “realistic” is a kind of cop-out, and while seemingly absolving one of culpability for the evils around us, quite the opposite, makes us guilty for not taking an individual stand.

    “What can we do?” Quite a lot, if you are willing to have a little faith, and to stretch your boundaries beyond your current limitations. You never know until you try, and if you never try, you sin against the possibility, the potential that was there and lost through the failure to even try and act.

    I have seen the impossible done on engineering jobs where I didn’t think it was rational or possible. If I had given in to the limits of my personal understanding (which is above average for statistical spreads of the population), potential solutions to problems would have been lost because I would have said “It can’t be done”. Sometimes it takes an outside source to give an alternative view to potential success in a difficult situation. By letting another person come along and make suggestions to a problem, unique solutions were found. The “Can Do” attitude won out over the “It won’t work” ideology.

    God is the ultimate outside source; He knows of infinite solutions that we do not have the capacity to think of. Our problems are His opportunities. Giving in to negative thinking, pessimistic mindsets, and rationalities that limit options instead of opening doors is a kind of sin against God, because by being negative in the face of His promises, we’re saying that we the finite are smarter than an Infinite God, and additionally are calling Him a liar of sorts.

    I could go on and list dozens of scripture verses expounding on the goodness and greatness of God, His power, His Grace, His mercy, His Love, His everything awesome and unlimited in the face of our problems, but maybe today you need to not be that lazy and go look it up for yourself. Maybe today you need to be the proactive one who goes out and seeks the promises, and in so doing show a little initiative that you can have hope when it doesn’t seem possible, faith when it doesn’t make sense, and an openness to potential when it doesn’t seem rational.

    When things hit rock bottom for me in life as they often do, this is what I have to remind myself over and over again. It isn’t the “Fear Mantra” of the Bene Gesserit, but a real approach to the fact that God cares, is listening, and is willing to help those who help themselves, and even those who can’t.

    Negativity Kills; in that light, being positive isn’t so bad after all. If God is the height of all things possible, then seeking Him out is a great way to start setting things right again. Doing nothing solves noting, and being pessimistic is the ultimate expression of nothingness.

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