Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Humans tend to dwell on the negative. An author will remember one bad review among a hundred good ones. People gripe about minor inconveniences. Fights start over things that after the fact seem inconsequential - if they are remembered at all. Why?

Darren Hardy, in his book The Compound Effect posits that this is - or at least, was - a survival skill. Surrounded by saber-toothed tigers and other beasts, early humans had to be on the lookout for every worst-case scenario. It was literally a matter of life and death! Existence was a never ending string of “lack or attack” situations. Our ancestors had to hunt or gather to avoid the former, and fight back or run like heck to escape the latter. We are calibrated to notice what is bad instead of what is good, since what is good doesn't require a response to survive.

Our modern lives are still sometimes difficult, fraught with peril and indeed, we have to work hard to provide for ourselves and our families. That said, constantly focusing on what’s wrong doesn’t best serve our well-being anymore. This is especially true when it comes to relationships; in fact, in that context it is purposefully focusing on the positive that becomes a “survival” skill!

Pastor Jimmy Evans wrote recently that “Attitudes are a choice. You can't blame them on your reality.” A good attitude is a key to healthy relationships. Your attitude and thoughts determine the reality that you inhabit. A psychological study found that people who thought of themselves as lucky were measurably luckier than those who didn’t think so. The conclusion was that people who thought they were lucky were more open to and aware of the possibilities of good things happening, and thus were able to take advantage of them when they occurred.

With that in mind, what are you thinking about, as far as your marriage is concerned? That he left the toilet seat up again, or didn’t put the cap back on the toothpaste? That she bought four new pairs of shoes? That she didn’t have dinner ready, or he was three hours late coming home from work and didn’t call?

Or did you think about how great your wife’s hair looked last night? What an awesome mom she is? How great your husband is at his job? How much you love his smile? How hard he works to keep the house together? How meticulous she is tracking the finances?

Paul’s words in Phillipians 4:8 are important for life in general, but their significance is magnified within marriage:

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

None of us are perfect, and if you set out to find fault, you certainly will. If, though, you train yourself to notice good things, as time goes by you will see them more and more. When you tune in to all that is right, you will be heartened instead of discouraged. When you constantly remind yourself of why you married your spouse in the first place, the negative things have less and less effect on your mood, your outlook - and your marriage.