January 25, 2004

In Training

I am negative by nature. Those of you that have read my blessings over the last year might find that hard to believe. But the truth is, I have to work hard to be positive. Some people are naturally positive and upbeat. In a movie I recently watched called 13 Conversations About One Thing, there was a character that fits this profile perfectly. His co-workers called him “Smiley”, and they would purposely try to do things to see if they could make him lose his smile. Smiley rebuffed them repeatedly and then ultimately when he continued to look at the bright side after his boss fired him! It was not as though Smiley never faced hard times, but his way of dealing with hard knocks that life sometimes gives you was to continue to look at the blessings in his life. Some people walk around loving life and all that it has to offer. They expect good things to happen. And Smiley was the essence of that personality.

Well, I am not a natural, and I generally have to work very hard to be good at what I do. I used to be an athlete. I focused an enormous amount of my energy and time into training my body to ride a bicycle very fast. I would ride for hours in sub-freezing Pennsylvania weather to train for the upcoming season of racing. Before the peak of the season when my training was most intense, I would spend over 20 hours a week on a bicycle. When the race season began, most weekends I would travel all over the East Coast for the opportunity to race and become better at a sport I really loved. But the truth is I was not a natural. I had to work really, really hard to just finish many of the races that I entered. Yet faithfully for years I trained hard with the promise that this dedication would pay off in the season ahead. The last year I raced, I implemented a training technique using mental imagery, and I accomplished some goals that I would have never have dreamed possible. The best athletes in the world know that it is not enough to train their bodies, but to be the best of the best you must also train your mind.

Even if you are not the best or a natural, you can become better at anything with some training. And if it is your attitude that you want to improve, you must learn to train your mind. That is basically what my everyday blessings were last year. Acknowledging the blessing of each day was my training for becoming a more positive person and getting closer to God. An easy training technique to develop a positive outlook is to find something to be thankful for every day. Take the time to write it in a journal. Try this for a week. You will find with just a minimal amount of “training”, your outlook will change and blessings will abound. That does not mean that suddenly your life will get easier, suddenly there will be world peace, suddenly all your wishes will be granted. It also does not mean that you live your life in denial, or that you will never be sad or angry or ungrateful again. Instead, you focus on the people, activities, events, and news that are good as much as you can, and you give God thanks for them. The world will not change, but your perspective will. And over time, being positive and hopeful will become much easier. There is a hope and a belief deep inside of me that with more of us “in-training”, this world will change for the better too.


“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” –Philippians 4:11b-13

“They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.” -1 Chronicles 23:30


“Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them-every day begin the task anew.” –St. Francis de Sales


God, help me remove the smudgy glasses of my negativity. Help me see the positive light in every situation. Help me see the light and love in every person. Allow my positive thoughts to create a world of love and peace. I give you thanks for the blessings you give me each and every day. Amen


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