In America we have abundance. Even if we are barely making ends meet we are considered wealthier than 75% of the world. Instead of living in poverty, we live with heavy stress and pressure. Sometimes abundance takes away simplicity and causes chaos instead.
Every day we have a million things thrown at us whether it’s work, family, disastrous news, and so many other unexpected things. It’s SOOOOO easy to get caught up in all the craziness. But when we do, we become detached from the things that matter because we are so focused on our problems. What we focus on becomes bigger and what we don’t focus on becomes smaller. I’m going to say that again…
What we focus on becomes bigger and what we don’t focus on becomes smaller
What in your life do you want to become bigger? Your problems? Or your happiness and joy? It’s your choice what you focus on.
I’ve always been an “overthinker”. I have an analytical mind so I think about everything in detail, I research everything, and I’m always observing things happening around me.
While most of this is a good thing, when it comes to thinking about the wrong things it can get me into trouble. My brain wants to plan, think things through, prepare for the worst, etc. which causes me to focus on the problem. So it became my mission to get control of my brain and not let my brain control me.
The last 2 years of my life have been REALLY hard. It’s what I call a “Divine Storm”. This is when the Universe comes into your life with full force to shift you into a new direction.
For the first year I was so overcome with anxiety and stress it’s all I could see. I was exhausted, detached, and it was consuming my life. I felt like I was constantly in battle trying to climb this endless steep mountain. At some point we usually break. We break in a good way by taking our power back, or we get defeated and give up. With that said, please don’t ever choose the latter!
I had enough. I was in a situation that I couldn’t control and I could either continue to be miserable or I could find a way to be at peace during hard times. This Bible verse became my lifeline:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in all things by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” Philippians 4:6-8
This verse tells us what steps to take when we are stressed and anxious followed by what to focus on instead.
Finding Bible verses or quotes that align with your beliefs are very helpful to focus on. Write down any that you come across that relate to you and look at them each day.
Thankfulness kept popping up in my life. I decided that in 2019 I was going to spend the year focused on thankfulness. During my morning quiet time I started by focusing on all the things I was thankful for. These can be really simple things like the roof over your head, running water, your car, your home, your health, someone did something kind that day or maybe a simple smile from someone made your day better.
Acknowledging these little things makes you more aware of the good things happening in your life.
Each day I would go through all the things I was thankful for which included problems that I might be having and finding thankfulness that it wasn’t as bad as it could be and being thankful for what I did still have. As I continued to do this each day I found my outlook shifting. I found myself shifting anxious thoughts to thankful thoughts. As you continue to do this it becomes habit to redirect your thinking. It’s truly an amazing thing!
I started what I call a “Joy Journal”. Each morning I write down 3 things I am thankful for and in the evening I write 5 good things that happened that day. This makes you wake up focusing on the positive and go to bed at night focusing on the positive.
Storms will continue to come into our lives but know they are lessons that are trying to teach us something or guide us in a new direction.
Remember that suffering causes us to take action. Take the action!
Look at the problems that come into your life and think about what this situation is trying to teach you.
I’ve had some really hard ones in the last year where initially my thought was “there is nothing good this can teach me and I don’t understand it at all!”. But then I started to realize that this one big problem in particular was teaching me to let go of control. This problem that was consuming me actually pushed me into God’s arms and gave me the deepest relationship with him that I’ve ever experienced. My faith and trust grew exponentially!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard cancer patients say they are so thankful they had cancer because it completely changed their outlook on life and they are truly living now. You learn to let go of the small stuff that doesn’t matter and focus more on living in happiness.
Even if something makes no sense at the time, trust there is a reason for it. The best thing you can do is let go of control, do the best you can, and keep moving forward knowing that you will be ok. Once you shift your outlook you’ll learn to flow with your problems and understand them better. When you do this, you get through them faster. Who doesn’t want that???
One last thing that I like to do when I’m focusing on something specific is I buy a book related to that subject and at the end of my morning quiet time I read it. This really helps to see things from different perspectives as well.
This year I bought a 365 day devotional called “The Power of Being Thankful” by Joyce Meyer. This book is WONDERFUL! I highly recommend it if you’d like to start your thankfulness journey.
365 day devotionals are great because each day is a short page focused on the topic that you are working on or just positivity in general. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s something that can easily be fit into your day.
Let’s do a quick overview of the 7 steps to become a more peaceful, thankful person:
Choose what you want to be biggest in your life. Do you want your problems to be biggest or do you want your happiness and joy to be biggest? It’s up to you. Remember that what you focus on becomes bigger and what you don’t focus on becomes smaller.
Find Bible verses or positive quotes that align with your beliefs and write them down. Look at them daily.
When trouble comes look at it from another perspective. It’s there as a lesson to teach or push you in a new direction. The quicker you learn what it’s trying to teach you, the quicker the problem will go away.
Focus on Thankfulness. When problems arise be thankful they aren’t worse, be thankful that the Universe will help you, and make thankfulness (for even the little things) a habit. Make thankfulness bigger and problems smaller in your life.
Take action! You must be dedicated to changing your patterns. Do it daily and don’t give up. Be kind and loving with yourself. It will be hard at first and you’ll feel like you’re failing but DON’T STOP!! Studies show most people give up right before their breakthrough. Do NOT give up on yourself! This is your life.
Keep a Joy Journal. Write 3 things you are thankful for in the morning and write 5 good things that happened that day in the evening. This helps you to wake up focused on thankfulness and to go to bed focused on thankfulness.
Buy a 365 day devotional on thankfulness or a book with short chapters that allows you to read it each morning without taking too much time so that you aren’t tempted to skip it if you’re too busy.
Taking these steps has significantly changed my life. I have more control of my mind, I know how to find peace, I learned to let go, and I learned to have faith that I am taken care of no matter how scary the circumstance. I also learned to catch myself when I start to focus in the wrong direction so that I can redirect my mind. I want this for everyone which is why I’m sharing my journey! What a relief it is to not be focused on problems anymore. They will always be there but we don’t have to give them our power.
Now go be thankful and spread smiles in the world!
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