“I was born to be a pessimist. My blood type is B Negative.” ~ (anon), quoted by funny guy William “Bill” Carlson on Facebook
Ever observed someone who is wrapped up in the negative? The glass is always half empty. I (Dawn) actually saw a glass “Pessimist’s Mug” online (from Despair Laboratories™) that featured a half-way marker etched in the glass. Under the line were the words “This glass is now half-empty” to remind all avowed pessimists that life can indeed get worse.
For the pessimist, life is always a struggle. Perhaps he or she is used to that slant on life, and can’t imagine another way to live. Oscar Wilde once defined “Pessimist” as “One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.” Pessimism can also spiral into depression.
American journalist and author Norman Cousins suffered a deteriorating physical condition, but he returned to health, in part, through the power of humor (watching Marx Brothers movies). Cousins once said, “No one really knows enough to be a pessimist.”
As I thought about that in terms of the Christian life, I had to say, “Amen!”
We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know if a war will start somewhere, or a loved one will die. We don’t know when or how God might answer our prayers. We don’t know a lot of things. We don’t even know if we’ll draw another breath!
We can choose to be negative about all of these things, or we can think biblically. We can act on faith, trusting God to care for us and answer our petitions. We can choose spiritual attitudes like contentment and joy. We can live in hope and anticipation of how God will work. We can observe what’s happening in the world, but know that God is still on the throne (and He wins in the end)!
So, as Christians, how do we combat pessimism ~ if that’s our problem?
- First, we determine whether we are pessimistic rather than overly cautious/fearful (which is a different issue).
- If we are a pessimist, we admit it; we don’t rationalize it away. We confess it and any negative ways it manifests in our lives (self-pity, anger toward God, judging others, negativism, etc.)
- We look for an alternative perspective by studying and embracing the truth of God’s Word (Psalm 119:11). We search for good, rather than evil (Proverbs 11:27).
- We root out false impressions and lies. [Some pessimism is based in flat-out lies, especially the negative, untrue messages we tell ourselves] (Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5).
- We seek positive lessons in seemingly negative circumstances. (For example, Joseph saw God’s intentions, Genesis 50:20). We refuse to be victimized by our situation, but choose victorious thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions. We trust God and wait patiently for Him to reveal the good.
- We consider what we put in our minds that may influence our attitudes (TV, movies, books, Internet, conversations). We avoid gossip, which is fertilizer for pessimism and negativity.
- We get a fresh view by speaking to others who are more positive and have a solid foundation in the Word of God. (Godly joy is contagious!)
- We practice gratitude for what we have, rather than dwelling on what we lack. We consider how things might be worse, and thank God for our blessings. (Ephesians 5:20) We perhaps start a gratitude journal.
- We choose to see life as an adventure, rather than a struggle.
- We realize who we are in Christ. (Check out “In Christ: Identity, Security, Dignity.”)
- We think of ways to serve others, instead of “navel-gazing” ~ always looking at self-interests Selfishness leads to negativism. (Philippians 2:3-4; James 1:27)
If you are a pessimist, you can change through the choices you make as you walk in the Spirit, rather than in the compulsions of your own flesh (Galatians 5:16).
Why “B Negative” when victory is yours in Christ? Choose joy!