3-Week Series: Double Blessing

Sermons

Summary: According to Statista, a leading survey company, in 2013, 50% of adult Americans considered themselves optimistic. As we get ready to step into the new year, let's see if we can do something to shift our thinking to being realistically optimistic more often.

REALISTICALLY OPTIMISTIC

According to Statista, a leading survey company, in 2013, 50% of adult Americans considered themselves optimistic. Only 4% identified as pessimists and 43% said they were somewhere in between. 3% declined to identify as anything. I'm interested to know how often those 43% inbetweeners, would they say they look at the glass half full vs. half empty.

But I can understand the combination factor. I think we all can have times when we can go either way. But the question is, what is our dominant attitude toward things? I guess I would consider myself an optimist with pessimistic tendencies!

As we get ready to step into the new year, perhaps we can do something to shift our thinking to being optimistic more often. Go from being a part-time pessimist to being rarely pessimistic; realistically.

1) Pessimism.

The definition of a pessimist is, a person who tends to see the worst aspect of things or believes that the worst will happen. Pessimism is negative thinking. The glass is always half empty. The worst case scenario will always come to pass. I’m going to fail. And negative thinking turns into negative action. For as a person thinks; therefore he behaves.

If I believe I’m going to fail then I probably will. Self-fulfilling prophecy. If I look at myself or my situation this way then I probably won’t try in the first place. In this I deprive myself of the opportunity to succeed and climb out of the rut. If I always see the glass as half empty then I’ll never appreciate the fact that it’s half full.

Pessimism is pretty destructive. This is the thinking and behavior associated with the old nature; a life without the power of Christ. And it’s futile. Eph. 4:17-18, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

"The futility of their thinking." Futile means useless, fruitless, unsuccessful, ineffective, wasted. These are terms that could easily be associated with pessimism. So, think of these verses with the mindset of pessimism. We must no longer live with pessimistic thinking. We need to get out of the darkness of what my pessimistic mind is doing to me. I need to understand how destructive it is.

I need to get away from the ignorance that it's not hurting me; away from the misunderstanding that pessimism is actually a benefit to me. Some pessimists think that negative thinking is protective thinking. "If I never get my hopes up I'll never be disappointed. If I think the worst will happen and it doesn't, that's good. And, if it does happen, then I won't be surprised."

That's misplaced realism. True realism hopes for the best but plans for the worst; they are optimistic about the future but understand that bad things can happen at any moment. But they don't dwell on the bad things; they aren't looking for them. If I go through life expecting things to go wrong then I will be miserable all the time.

I understand that when a series of bad situations happen to us we can be programmed to believe this is our lot in life, but we shouldn't be projecting the future based on the past. And sometimes when tragedy strikes we can lose hope that things will ever get any better. But if there's nothing within us to hold onto the hope that things can get better then what kind of life is that?

Pessimistic thinking is destructive thinking; there's no benefit to it. When my thinking is futile I turn my negative thoughts into negative actions and it’s just a vicious cycle that gets worse as time goes on. Think about some of the things that are associated with pessimism; things like anxiety, worry, fear, doubt, anger, depression, misery.

I don't see where there can be any positive terms associated with pessimism. Some people might think pessimism is a good defense mechanism but we need to understand that being optimistic does not make me vulnerable. Optimism is not living on cloud 9; it's being hopeful despite the circumstances.

2) Optimism.

The definition of an optimist is, a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something. The pessimist looks at situations as hopeless while the optimist has the hope that things can get better. A pessimist can change their outlook to become more optimistic. But that will take a transformation of the mind.

Romans 12:2a, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

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