The Power of Positive Thinking

by Chris Jeter
I shared these thoughts at our college/young adult THRIVE Worship on Thursday night, and I thought I’d share them with you too:

I had a teacher in college who lived in Atlanta, GA, and his goal in life was to play trumpet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This was a lofty dream, to say the least - the LA Phil is one of the top orchestras in the country, even the world.

As part of his journey, he adopted a philosophy called Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “small, daily victories.” Rather than coming face-to-face with the daunting task of auditioning for such a massive role, he instead focused on small, simple improvements and positive thinking. If he could improve by just 1% each day, then he would soon reach his goal, so he aimed to achieve small, daily victories.

He would sit and imagine what it would be like to perform with the Philharmonic, then practice his instrument in that mindset. He even hung a picture of Walt Disney Concert Hall (where the LA Phil plays) on his wall and envisioned himself being there. He also had Kaizen painted onto the wall in large Japanese characters, reminding him to focus on continuous improvement.

I bring this up because I think that we, too, should focus on small, daily victories. I’m reminded of Philippians 4.8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything
worthy of praise, think about these things.
Sometimes (perhaps a lot of the time) this is easier said than done. We tend to focus on the
negative instead of the positive - it sticks out to us, we complain often, and we even bond with others over the things we dislike. When Paul wrote the above words to the Philippians, he was in and out of prison, being run out of towns often, and just generally having a hard time. In light of this, his advice is particularly crucial - if there is anything positive or redemptive to think about, think on that!

When the troublesome things seem exaggerated or impossible to miss, then it becomes even more important for us to discover those small, daily victories: the sun is shining, it’s a good hair day, there’s breath in our lungs - these observations may seem remarkably simple, but sometimes the simple things move us along when it seems like there’s not a whole lot of positive to focus on.

And in those moments when it seems impossible to even notice the smallest silver lining, never forget God’s love for you. Whether you have joy and plenty, or pain and sorrow, God loves you, and He will not forsake you.

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