Key 8: Don’t be anxious; instead, be thankful when you pray.
The lyrics of the 1988 song Don’t worry; be happy seem trite, but the song writer’s advice was about the same as the Apostle Paul’s 2000 years ago. I don’t know many chronic worriers who are happy, do you?
Speaking from personal experience almost seven years into this role of widow, I will admit that saying my prayers has not erased my fear, anxiety, worry and stress. However, I have the power to control to a great degree where my mind rests. I may not always stop it from straying into dark corners, but I do not have to linger there. That is my choice.
During the months I have blogged, I have written repeatedly about anxiety but even more often about gratitude and thanksgiving. In July I explored this same passage from Philippians to write, “Be Anxious for Nothing”; and a few weeks later I wrote about “Living Life in Gratitude Mode.”
Part of my research in writing my book, Reclaiming Joy, has been to read psychology books in order to better understand the emotional dimension of grief and the mental attributes needed to move from grief to joy. If you struggle with focusing on the positive, I recommend Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Here is what she wrote in her introduction:
“My work is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs we’re aware of or unaware of, but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have profound effects.”
In other words, we can change the way we think, at least to some degree. We pour out our deepest needs and fears to God in prayer, instead of keeping them bottled up inside us. We pair those needs and fears with all the things we have to be thankful for. We let go. And then we begin to move on.