Found on a popular medical website:
“Positive thinking is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation. It can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. It doesn’t mean that you ignore reality or make light of problems. It simply means that you approach the good and the bad in life with the expectation that things will go well.
Some physical benefits of positive thinking may include longer life span, lower blood pressure, lower chance of having a heart attack, greater resistance to illness, better stress management and better pain tolerance. Mental benefits may include more creativity, clearer thinking, greater problem-solving skill, better mood, better coping skills and less depression.”
One man in the scriptures who was a master at positive thinking was Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel.
In Genesis 39, Joseph finds himself sold into slavery by his own brothers. It would have been easy for him to bemoan his fate and stoke his anger over how unfairly life was treating him and how his own family members had betrayed him. Instead, he focuses on being the best slave he can be and winds up being put in charge of the entire household.
At the end of the same chapter, Joseph is unjustly accused of a crime and finds himself in prison. Again, it would have been easy to dwell on his totally unfair circumstances. Instead, he focuses on being the best prisoner he can be and winds up being put in charge of the other prisoners.
Joseph’s positive approach — driven by his faith in God — allows him to survive the discouragements of his life until such time as God delivers him from prison and uses him in a mighty way — it’s a great example of the power of positive thinking.
Moroni 9 provides a flashback to earlier events in the Book of Mormon as Moroni shares a letter from his late father Mormon. In this letter, Mormon describes how wicked the people had become in the later years of his life. As the letter progresses, it’s clear that Mormon’s anger is growing as he records the wicked acts of the people, even asking (as some of us do today), “How [much longer] can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment?” (verse 14).
However, rather than end the letter on a totally negative note that would leave Moroni angry at all the wicked people and bemoaning his fate to be left alone now, Mormon ends by encouraging his son to focus his mind on Jesus Christ and all the good to come in the future:
“My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may…the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.” (Moroni 9:25)
Moroni is being encouraged to engage in positive thinking!
What is happening today that might cause us to be angry or dwell on negative thoughts?
Perhaps a pandemic that has affected so many lives? Perhaps rioting and destruction in many parts of our nation? Perhaps a contentious political landscape in which people on opposite sides find it difficult to be civil to each other? Perhaps the increasing levels of sin and disregard for God all about us (perhaps making us wonder how much longer God will tolerate it)?
Or, maybe (like Joseph), it’s conditions in our own individual lives that threaten to bring on the negative thoughts — family problems, financial challenges, job-related issues, health concerns, etc. For any of these, it would be easy to bemoan our fate in life and be angry at individuals, angry at life, even angry at God.
OR — We can choose to focus on Jesus Christ who died so we could be forgiven of our sins. We can focus on the joy of salvation. We can focus on how much God loves us. We can trust that God has a purpose for wherever we are in life and commit to ourselves that we will be the best servant of God that we can be — today, right now, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
So, we have a choice. We can look at all of the bad things happening around us (or to us) and allow them to fill our minds with anger, fear, resentment and sadness, convincing ourselves that life would be so much better if all of these bad things went away. Or, we can realize that life is already so much better because we have given our lives to Jesus Christ and are part of the family of God. And, the best is yet to come because we have eternity in the kingdom of God to look forward to.
Choose the positive thoughts — that’s where you’ll find the blessings and power of God.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.