Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Half Full or Half Empty?

Philippians 4:13 Amplified: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in His sufficiency.)

This scripture is more than a positive confession that makes us feel better emotionally. We should consider Philippians 4:13 to be a powerful immune boosting substance! Several different studies conducted show that optimists have stronger immune systems and get sick less often than pessimists.

First, what exactly is an optimist? By definition it is someone who is inclined to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or who anticipates the best possible outcome. So, then, how we perceive an action or event and then explain it to ourselves is of the utmost importance. Scientists have developed two systems for measuring what they term "dispositional optimism," which is a person's expectations for the future and "explanatory style," which is how a person explains what happens to them. How can we be anything but optimists when God has told us in Jeremiah 29:11 that His plans for us are only for good - to prosper us, give us hope and a future?

Various studies find that optimists actually have a 55% lower risk of death from all causes and pessimists tend to suffer from twice as many infectious diseases. In fact a Johns Hopkins University study revealed people who saw themselves as having poor health (whether they actually did or not), doubled their risk of death within five years.

This scripture in Phillippians is the picture of a resilient, optimistic person. Studies reveal that people who believe they have a measure of control over seemingly unmanageable events, release certain brain chemicals which actually increase their resilience, reduce anxiety and cause that stressful memory to be a less vivid one.

Joel 3:10 tells us we are to "let the weak say I am strong." That is much more than just a catchy song lyric or wishful thinking. Studies find that pessimists tend to assume blame for bad news, feeling it was somehow their fault, believe their negative circumstance will last forever and impact everything they do! Perhaps that is why scripture tells us to speak the desired result, not what we now have (Romans 4:17) and meditate on the Word of God.

You may think you were born a pessimist and there's nothing you can do to change that - but you are wrong! In Psalms 42:5 David asks himself, "Why are you downcast, O my soul?" Do as David did and ask yourself why you look at a situation as you do. Your perception may be completely wrong! That alone could be the difference between being optimistic and pessimistic. As Christians, we know God is in control, He desires only our best and all things ultimately work together for our good and His glory. So, consciously choose to look on the bright side, search for the silver lining and you just may reap better health as a bonus!

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