1. Hm…not sure about specific verses, but the whole narrative of the Bible and the way I was raised in it sort of gave me healthier outlooks on things. There’s been other stuff as well, like the way those teachings have interfaced with my personality and things I’ve read and observed.

    I’ve always just happened to like Christmas and Thanksgiving, too, so that helps. There’s been a lot of cruddy things that have happened to my family around the holidays, but I sort of separate those incidents from my perception of the holiday itself. If anything, the holidays help at that point. Like, in the midst of all the cruddy things, at least there’s something good happening. Even if it’s tiny and simple like beautiful aesthetics of Christmas lights and the weather and whatnot.

    So mentally separating things can help. For example, one’s family might fight when they get together for Christmas and the holidays, but that’s a problem with the family, not the holidays. Separate the two, realize the issue is family dynamics and always be looking for ways to improve them. It might also help to make a distinction between one’s experience/feelings, and the actions of other people. One way to cultivate that is to ask one’s self certain questions over and over. ‘I care about my family and want to help them get along, but why does that have to entail feeling upset and stressed every time they act like jerks?’ That can be a good way to remind one’s self that what is currently happening and the way one feels are two different things and can be controlled separately. That gives a person more autonomy over themselves and their situation and makes it easier to feel at peace, rather than tossed around by everything that’s going on.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I think positive thinking in general can be identified in the passage I quoted by Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

      And I think what you identified in separating problems from the holidays themselves can be identified as a type of positive thinking. And I’m not against positive thinking but don’t think it rests on its own. First we admit something is a problem for us (assuming of course it is) then we take our worries/problems/concerns to the Lord in prayer, then we deliberately put on a mindset of thinking true and honorable and other good things–which would include adopting some perspective about the holidays, as you’ve recommended.

      Though concerning some things, what we will find is contentment rather than emotional gladness (a.k.a. “joy”)–for example, I know someone whose elderly father went into the hospital with a serious infection on Christmas Day this year and for whom the concern was that he would not survive. I think it’s normal for such a person to have less of a good time on Christmas than other people–but having less of a good time under the circumstances is OK. It doesn’t mean she can’t be at peace about what is happening–it doesn’t mean she can’t go to God in prayer with her concerns and also, yes, try to look at the good things happening at Christmas rather than be too focused on potential tragedy. It is possible to both suffer in hardship AND have a soul blessed by God. 🙂

      • Hm, yeah. I do think it’s more than going to God and saying ‘Give me peace/help me be happy’ though. Learning from the circumstances at hand and understanding how to handle them is another vital thing to constantly ask for God’s help on, especially in high conflict situations(inside and outside the holidays). A lot of how we behave during conflict determines whether or not the situation gets better or worse, and after we learn constructive methods for handling all that, we can then turn around and teach those to others. Which is why I ask God for that way more than peace or happiness or whatever. I’m sure you do believe in asking God for self improvement and constructive behavior in addition to peace, I just didn’t want the conversation to ONLY get chalked up to positive thinking. 🙂

        • Travis Perry says:

          I think relying on God in prayer is a form of constructive behaviour in and of itself. Trusting God more means accepting what happens more and trying less to control everything by acts of the will. Trusting God more means putting a focus on living Christian virtues like love rather than totally losing your mind in a crisis. But yes, I would very much think ordinary prayers in crisis would include prayers on how to handle the crisis better, petitions to be able to act the best way possible under the circumstances, “help me learn from this,” “help me love others through this,” “help know what I should do,” etc.

          So I’m partially agreeing with you. 🙂

What do you think?