The COVID-19 pandemic was a major turning point in the history of humankind. Some of the aftereffects of the pandemic still linger with us. The mandatory mask wearing and lock down that accompanied the pandemic had made many of us to work remotely and socialize less. The restrictions brought by COVID-19 had some negative influence on the confidence level and socialization skills of at least some of us, especially the children who were out of school doing distance education. What can be done to restore our confidence levels to pre-pandemic levels? Positive thinking can be tried as a tool to help boost one’s self-esteem. Positive thinking is a notion that most of us have heard many times in our life. It is relatively easy to say to “think positively,” but practicing it consistently and with perseverance is not that easy.
What is Positive Thinking?
Firstly, one needs to understand what positive thinking means. Does it mean daydreaming? Positive thinking could mean sort of daydreaming (at least to some extent). The famous and best seller publication “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale is a wonderful publication that delineates the practical steps to be a positive thinker. One of the most important concepts that Dr. Peale suggests as a cure for lack of confidence is to believe that God is always with you to help you. In his book, Dr. Peale portrays a baseball player who recites Isaiah 40:31 to regain strength while feeling tired during his games. As such, the player succeeds in his games. The story of the 2006 movie, ‘The Secret,’ also is based on the principle of positive thinking inspired by Dr. Peale’s publication.
The Bible says: “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1-8). This means to strongly believe that your prayers have already been acknowledged and you will get what you have asked for. These Bible verses also ask us to be assured of what we cannot see. This means to acknowledge the presence of Jesus with us always and wherever we are. No matter where we are, at school, or work, or at the grocery store, or while driving, try to picturize that Jesus is beside you. Just imagine, what a wonderful experience would that be!
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see
There are many verses in the Bible that help us train on positive thinking, and one can change the wording in their own way to make them fit for a particular situation. For example, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). One can change this verse to, “I can learn well through Him Who strengthens me” or “I can pass this exam through Him Who strengthens me.” There are many such verses in the Bible that could be recited in our mind to practice positive thoughts, depending upon the situation. Some of them are quoted here.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
“We receive from Him whatever we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” (1 John 3: 22)
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Physiology of Positive Thinking
Fear, disbelief, and negative thoughts will mitigate and may extinguish the effects of positive thinking. To fear is human and overcoming fear can be a struggle in practicing positive thinking. “Fear not” is repeated 365 times in the Bible. That is like a reminder for us for each day of the year not to be afraid. In this world of extreme competition, we may have to encounter criticisms, discouraging words, or even disapproval from many individuals while pursuing our goals. While encountered by circumstances that discourage us, let us remember what Nehemiah said when he was ridiculed and discouraged by his enemies while he was trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem: “The God of heaven will give us success.” If Nehemiah was discouraged by his enemies’ negative words and did not believe in God, he could not have rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days.
The God of heaven will give us success
Caveats of Positive Thinking
It is important to understand that positive thinking does not mean loafing. One should do one’s own part to exercise positive thinking. In other words, one cannot stay lazy and think positively hoping that things are going to happen. One should not ignore his/her responsibilities and duties while resorting to positive thinking. Positive thinking should be used as a tool to augment our efforts towards achieving our goals rather than using it as a replacement for the necessary steps towards achieving the goals. Ultimately, let us pray to our Lord Jesus to help us learn how to practice positive thinking effectively so that we can be his successful followers.
Cleveland Clinic. (2023). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/24795-ssri
Peale, N. V. (1952). The power of positive thinking. Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Rhines, J. (2019). The physiology of positive thinking. https://www.jenrhines.com/blog/2019/5/23/the-physiology-of-positive-thinking
Scaccia, A. (2022). Everything you need to know about serotonin. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin#overview1