In the book of Proverbs we are offered two ways to live our lives1. We can be

  • seekers of good or
  • pursuers of evil.

We can have a positive attitude building people up, or a negative one tearing people down.

Do you know someone who is always spreading the dirt about relatives, friends, or people at work? It seems that they never have a nice thing to say about anyone. Have you found that their negativity rubs off on you? Does it steal your energy?

Or, are you the one spreading negative thoughts and don’t even know it? Are you willingly participating in the daily gossip to be accepted as part of the crowd?

‘Who is the man who delights in life, who loves to see the good days? Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.’

Psalm 34:13-15

Lent is a great time to ask ourselves if we are willingly or even unwillingly adding to the negativity in our lives. Are we critical and negative, bitter and envious of others, are we hurtful and selfish? If so, Proverbs warns us, we will have sad, painful, and troubled lives.

Have you ever heard the saying ‘what goes around comes around?’ My dad used to tell me, ‘You become like the people you hang out with.’ It is said that you are the average of the seven people you spend the most time with.

If you associate with negative people, you will become negative. Hang out with complainers, you will be a complainer. Bitter, envious, selfish friends will make you a bitter envious and selfish person. You will never make positive changes in your life if you surround yourself with negative people.

Pope Francis in an Ash Wednesday message said that if you want to give up something for Lent, make it indifference to our neighbour.

Let’s try to seek the gold in others and spread positive energy. And, let’s do it not only during Lent, but every day.

‘Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.’
Pope Francis

What can we do to heighten the awareness of our surroundings and seek the gold in others rather than digging up the dirt?

  1. Avoid negative people! Years ago, whenever I approached people who were gossiping or spreading negativity, I walked away. I didn’t want their negativity to rub off on my positive attitude. I joked that I was allergic to them.
  2. Look for solutions! Negative people are never looking for solutions, never looking for ways to make things better. If they did they would have nothing to complain about and would have to find the next thing to complain about.
  3. Optimism is a happiness magnet! Finding positive people to associate with, people looking to build people up, find solutions, and interested in personal growth, will add to your happiness.
  4. Be the ‘Yes, but’…person. When people are spreading rumours about someone, I will often interrupt them with a ‘yes…but’, and then I will share a positive thought about the person being targeted.

‘That may be true, BUT when I was in the hospital, she was the first person to visit me.’ ‘Yes, BUT he really went out of his way to help get that project completed on time.’

You get the idea, right? Remember, if they are talking behind someone’s back when they aren’t there, they are probably also talking about you behind your back.

Let’s start right now, during Lent, to find the gold in others, to be optimistic and positive. Let’s shed the negative behaviour and avoid letting negative people steal our joy.

Let’s bring a new energy to all that we do and seek God’s favour not just during Lent but every day of our lives.

 

Adapted and edited from Tony Agnesi https://tonyagnesi.com/2016/02/be-the-one/
‘Those who seek the good seek favour, but those who pursue evil will have evil come upon them.’ – Proverbs 11:27

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.