A vacationer was taking a bus tour through the American Southwest. Everything he saw failed to meet his expectations. Even the Grand Canyon was a disappointment. "I don't see what the big deal is," he complained. "It's just a big hole in the ground."

With that, the bus driver, who had heard all these complaints and borne them with good humor, turned to the man and said, "You've got to start looking from the inside."

The ability to see often depends on our willingness to look, to open our hearts and minds to beauty, truth, or love. The converse is also true: Those who are predisposed to see problems usually find them. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that hostile people seem to see so many hostile people around them?

A study measured the degree of "cynical hostility" in 77 men in their early 20's. The subject spoke with a person who created a pre-planned, neutral, or hostile exchange. When asked to recall the incident later, those who had previously ranked high on the "cynical hostility" scale had a much clearer recollection of the hostile aspects of the interchange than those who had ranked low on the scale.

It's true, isn't it? Hostile people focus on the hostility or perceived offenses of others, remembering the negative aspects of encounters more accurately. On the other hand, people with positive attitudes tend to see the best in whatever situation they find themselves and give those around them the benefit of the doubt rather than the quick criticism.

You may have seen an even more recent study showing the effect of Alzheimer's on a group of nuns. One of the unexpected findings was the impact a positive mental approach apparently played in prolonging the lives and health of many of the women. It seems that taking an optimistic, life-affirming view of life in their 20's gave these women more good years at their end.

How we see our world plays an enormous role in how our world sees us. True, we cannot change our past; we may not like how some people treat us; we cannot control the inevitable. The only thing we can control is our attitude, how we will view life as it comes.

Professor Halford Luccock had some good advice on how to deal with negative thoughts. When we feel a complaint coming on, he said, we should "Put a thanksgiving over it to smother it."

Paul had similar words for the Philippians when he wrote, "Fill your minds with things that are true, noble, just, authentic, lovely, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not to curse." (Phil 4:10, The Message version)

I would guess that each of us, difficult as our lives may become, have far more to bless than to curse, far more to lift up than to grumble over. Which means we have plenty of thanksgivings to smother our complaints.

We see from the inside. Beauty and grandeur. Disappointment and negativity. How are your eyes working these days?

Pastor Roy

P.S. Click the picture or link below to read the full June 2024 edition of The Beacon