I’ve been told that I’m annoyingly energetic and upbeat. I try to greet everyone I meet with a smile. When asked how I’m doing, I usually reply, “Fantastic!” But many people misunderstand why I’m this way.
Some seem to think that nothing in my life ever goes wrong. “You are just so lucky that you don’t have my life,” they seem to say. Then there are those who attribute it to my age. “When you get to be my age,” they say, “you won’t have so much energy.” I think my enthusiasm may even make some people feel guilty. “Why don’t I feel that way about life? Something must be wrong with me for not being so enthusiastic about God.”
But the answer to being more energetic, enthusiastic, and excited isn’t your age or even your circumstances. Here are some of the things I try to keep in mind:
1. Don’t act the way you feel.
As a general rule, I try NOT to act on my feelings. There are days when nothing seems to go right. There are days when I feel discouraged and frustrated. There are days where I feel apathetic. There are even days when I feel like ignoring (or verbally pummeling) everyone with whom I come into contact. And sadly, whether you’ve ever witnessed it or not, sometimes I act like I feel. But, I try hard to act upbeat and positive, regardless of how I feel.
It isn’t being “fake” or “hypocritical” to act happy when you don’t feel happy. In fact, feelings often follow actions. When you smile, you feel more like smiling. If you don’t believe me, try it. It’s a proven fact, when you smile, you feel happier. God designed it that way. So, often I’m acting the way I want to feel rather than the way I actually feel.
But the most important thing is this, since God’s word tells me to be joyful and grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), I want to do my best to be exactly that! I don’t always feel joyful, but God’s word tells me to rejoice anyway. I don’t always feel like being grateful, but God’s word tells me to give thanks anyway. You have to decide, are you going to act the way you feel or the way God tells you to act?
2. See the big picture.
It’s easy to feel completely discouraged when all you can see is the pain of this life. But, when we see the big picture–when we realize life is short (James 4:14) and heaven is forever–it is so much easier to have a positive attitude. I’m not sure how you can read passages like 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, and not be excited:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Seeing the big picture is about faith and looking to the reward (Hebrews 11:26). How can you help but be overwhelmed with excitement when you ponder concepts such as salvation, grace, mercy, and heaven?
3. Focus on others.
God’s word tells me to be encouraging (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Again, this isn’t conditional. God doesn’t tell us to be encouraging, when and if, we feel like it. He simply says, “Encourage one another and build one another up.” If I always acted the way I felt, I would seldom encourage anyone.
Often we act the way we feel because we seek pity and encouragement ourselves. I know I have been notorious about this. Someone asks, “How are you?” And I reply, “Oh, I guess I’m doing alright,” hoping they will inquire further and I’ll be able to tell them my troubles. We’ve got to stop this nonsense! If you have something you need to share with someone, just tell them, “Hey, would you be praying for me? I’ve had this-and-that going on and I really need some prayers.” We’ve got to stop trying to make people feel sorry for us.
When we are trying to get others to encourage us, we are completely ineffective at encouraging others. This is what Paul described as a Christ-like attitude, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Please understand, I’m far from being as upbeat, enthusiastic, and energetic as I want to be. I want to have more joy and less self-pity. I want to be more encouraging and less focused on myself. But, if you see me with a smile on my face, know that I’m not trying to tell you my life is perfect; just that I want to encourage you.
I love you and God loves you,