"Let's Be Looking for the Positives" (8-29-2019 All School Chapel)
As I was preparing to speak to you today I began pondering a moment that happened just a few weeks ago here on campus. You may not know this but each year for the past four years the faculty and staff have teamed together over the summer for a day we call Beautification Day. On this day teachers come on campus and do a lot of hard labor getting the campus ready for your return. This year it was 100 degrees on the day we worked and the teachers were able to knock out over 40 important beautification tasks all across campus.
Many of you know that I love anything with a motor and power tools. On this day, after a short stint on th e tractor, I found my way on the team that was trimming trees. Seriously, chainsaws are just fun for me.
So, as our team began we had lots to do. There were many branches that were in pathways and blocking areas that needed attention. However, as we began to trim more it seemed like we had a hard time knowing where to stop. As we looked at the trees critically it was easy to find fault and say “this one is a little off maybe that branch should go too.” It dawned on me that if we kept looking with an overly critical eye that the beautiful majestic trees we were helping might only be left with one branch at the end.
So, I was thinking that at times we can get this way in life. We often start looking at things or each other critically. Sometimes it starts for good reason, like clearing our paths. However, if we are not careful this path can lead us to criticizing things that are beautiful and have incredible value in our lives…like our family, our friends, our school and list goes on.
So I want to challenge us to be those that celebrate success and looks for the good.
In Luke 6:43-45 [Jesus said,] "A good tree can't produce bad fruit…A good person produces good things from a good heart...”
What we say and what we focus on flows from what we have in our heart.
Every day we are offered opportunities to focus on the good or the bad. Think about it, have you ever considered why critical statements stay with us while compliments often fade? The answer is negativity just makes a bigger impact on our brains. And that is due to what Psychologists call the brain's "negativity bias": The bias is so automatic that it can be detected at the earliest stage of the brain's information processing.
Take, for example, the studies done at Ohio State University, In the study people were shown pictures known to get a response of positive feelings (say, a happy child, or a pizza), pictures certain to stir up negative feelings (a injured person or scary clown) and those known to produce neutral feelings (a plate, a hair dryer). Meanwhile, they recorded brain activity in the cerebral cortex.
The study showed that the brain reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative. Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily most likely evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm's way. From the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. This is all well and good if you are in survival situations but possibly damaging in our day to day life.
Numerous researchers have found that for a healthy life we must have a check on negativity. There seems to be some kind of thermostat operating in healthy people that almost automatically regulates the balance between positive and negative. Recent research studied people that identified as “happy” and they found these individuals balanced the many negative influences in our world today with their own positivity. The same research found that a majority of people that suffer from depression or sadness did not have the same behaviors to infuse positivity in their own life.
In Jeremiah the Bible tells us there are two paths to life, the “blessed” and the “cursed”. The scripture describes the blessed life being one filled with positivity, grace, focus, and trust in God. The Cursed life is void of these things and is life not worth living.
To live a blessed life we need to look for the positives and find ways to celebrate successes as we experience and share grace to others. As we do this we will find open doors around every corner to opportunities for growth and have an impact on the world.
Jeremiah 17:8 goes on to explain the life of a blessed person, “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
What this tells me is a person living a life that affirms others and looks for positivity will not worry about the season or the conditions around them rather they will thrive in all situations and have confidence in their path.
I look forward to seeing each of you enjoy the blessings you have…Loving families, dedicated teachers, amazing friends, an incredible school and so much more. And I believe that if you choose to focus on affirming others that you will continue on the path to a Blessed Life.