How do you handle it when life gets tough? Do hard times tear you down or build you up?
In Battlefield of the Mind, Christian author Joyce Meyer discusses how our attitude toward adversity matters greatly. She explains how the devil tries to use negativity to tear us down. However, we can turn that around by adopting a Godly, positive mindset that can make all the difference in the way suffering shapes our lives.
Keep reading to learn more about Meyer’s view on how to get through hard times in life.
How to Get Through Hard Times
When life gets tough, we often respond with a self-defeating attitude or indignation. Meyer discusses these two negative mindsets and offers advice on how to get through hard times in life with strength and grace.
A Self-Defeating Attitude
Meyer writes that Satan tries to keep our minds negative by convincing us to use negative language when things get hard, which can trap us in a negative mindset. Statements such as “this is too hard” or “I can’t do this” lead to more negative thoughts and can actually make difficult things more difficult. Therefore, Meyer urges us to stop talking about how hard things are because it only makes us more likely to fail.
In contrast, keeping our language positive when encountering adversity makes us more likely to succeed. But this does not mean that we have to pretend that difficult things are easy. We can acknowledge our suffering while keeping our language, and by extension, our attitude, focused on the positive. For example, instead of saying “this is too hard” in response to a challenge, we could say, “yes, this is difficult, but I know that I will be stronger for having gone through it.” Meyer encourages us to stay positive through adversity by reminding us that the Holy Spirit will always lead us out of the wilderness so long as we have faith, but our route will not always be easy.
Framing challenging circumstances in light of our spiritual growth is a powerful tool in maintaining a positive mind and a positive life. Meyer explains that experiencing hardship teaches us to rely on God rather than ourselves. To reap the full benefits of weathering adversity, we have to trust that there is utility in difficulty and that it’s part of God’s plan.
|Physical Benefits of a Positive Emotional Style
Meyer’s suggestion that a negative mindset causes negative outcomes is supported by two widely cited studies from the medical field.
In one, researchers found that people with a more “negative emotional style” (more prone to hostility, anxiety, and depression) were more likely to both contract and report negative symptoms from the common cold than people with a more positive emotional style. The results even showed that people with a more negative style reported more “unfounded” symptoms than those who were more positive. These results suggest both physiological and emotional benefits to being positive.
A follow-up study corroborated these results with an additional level of scientific rigor. The researchers found that a positive emotional style was protective against both the common cold and the flu. Once again, the more positive personalities reported fewer symptoms of illness. The authors concluded that having a positive outlook is likely an important factor in overall health and wellness.
Having the wrong attitude about suffering can keep us in a negative mindset. Meyer explains that too often, we approach suffering with indignation. When we suffer, we feel wronged and become unhappy and unsatisfied with our circumstances. But Meyer explains that this is unproductive. She notes that God expects us to endure some suffering in our lives. Rather than seeing suffering as an injustice, Meyer suggests that we view suffering as a crucible through which we strengthen our faith.
Meyer explains that gratitude is an antidote to indignation. The key to becoming closer to God through our suffering is finding a way to give thanks no matter the circumstances. Meyer suggests making our prayers about thanks instead of complaints. She clarifies that it’s ok to ask God for the things we want or need, but the spirit of our prayers should be one of gratitude and optimism rather than one of discontent.
Focusing on gratitude rather than indignation will allow us to enjoy a more positive mind and thus a more positive life. This positivity won’t just benefit us but will radiate to those around us. Meyer explains that when we approach suffering with grace and optimism, we give other people an example of how to live.
|Accepting Negative Emotions
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson also suggests that there is utility in suffering. According to Manson, humans are biologically hardwired for suffering and dissatisfaction, and these feelings can actually be useful because they fuel a desire for self-improvement. However, Manson’s view of how we should handle the emotions that accompany suffering is different from Meyer’s. While Meyer suggests that we need to find a way to be positive and grateful even in the worst of circumstances, Manson suggests that the idea that we have to stay positive all the time is unrealistic.
Manson blames the media-driven self-help movement (of which Meyer is a part) for popularizing unhelpful ideas about negative thoughts. He argues that the push for relentless positivity can make people feel like they are failing when they are not able to immediately banish negative thoughts from their minds. While he does not suggest that people allow themselves to wallow in self-pity when things go wrong (he also stresses the importance of taking responsibility for our lives and making the best of our situation) he does remind us that negative emotions are normal, and in fact, that they can be useful because they serve as a signal that we need to make a change in our life.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Battlefield of the Mind summary :
- How the Devil makes it his mission to corrupt our minds with negative thoughts
- How to recognize the signs that Satan is attacking your mind
- How to thwart Satan’s attacks and find happiness and fulfillment