How to Not Miss the Good Things in Your Life

Our brain is like velcro for the bad but teflon for the good. We let bad things roll around in our head; we quickly move on from the good. Ever since I learned this simple yet profound point from Rick Hanson, I have made it my ambition to do a better job of taking in the good (for more detail on Hanson, see my article on his work here).

According to Hanson, many of our mental struggles result from simply not taking in the good things already present in our lives. For example, we can spend hours thinking about how someone criticized us. We spend hardly any time thinking of the compliment someone gave us. We think a lot about bills we might not be able to pay. We think very little about all the bills we have paid. Such distorted thinking is bound to make us more anxious about people and finances.

How do we start to balance this out? How can we do a better job of taking in the good things that are already part of our lives?

Here are a few thoughts.

Journal. On January 14, 2018, I started writing a weekly review, and I have continued this practice to the present time. Every time I do it, I walk away with a different view of my week than the one I began with. I go through my calendar, and I note the people I spent time with, the things I accomplished, the pleasures I enjoyed, the good experiences that I had, and the things I learned. By the end of this exercise, I realize that my week was much better than I thought it was when I sat down to write.

Linger. When you experience something good, take it in for a few seconds. Thank God for the good things that you have received. Don’t just drink or eat. Fix it in your mind for a few moments and give thanks to God. Don’t quickly move to the next thing.

Share. This week, I’m preaching about Moses’ father-in-law Jethro from Exodus 18. In this passage, Moses tells Jethro all the good things the Lord has done in the exodus from Egypt. Jethro is delighted to hear it all. We all need friends with whom we can share the good things in our lives. This gives us both the memory of something good as well as the enriching connection of a human relationship.

Celebrate. After Moses told Jethro about all the good things the Lord had done for them, they celebrated. They offered sacrifices to God and enjoyed a meal together with the leaders of the people of Israel. We can do the same. When something particularly good happens, celebrate it. Enjoy a meal and talk about it!

Write. One way to linger over things is to write about them. This year, I threw one of the best parties I’ve ever thrown: a celebration of Burns Night (read about it here). The reason I wrote the article was to relive this wonderful event and to share it again with the friends who were a part of the celebration. It was one more way of taking in the good and remembering all the good things God has given me.

Taking in the good has helped me not to miss the good things that are already in my life. I have seen firsthand that when we take in the good, we can live more fulfilled, joyful, and peaceful lives. And all these things are right there for the taking! We just have to take them into our hearts and minds and enjoy what God has given us.


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