This mornings devotional “Heartcheck” by Christine Cain, really has my mind going.
She talked about trading in an earthly perspective for an eternal perspective. And how our perspective is everything. My mind went further and camped on how both expectations and perspectives can greatly effect our emotional, physical and spiritual health especially during times of trials and suffering!
In John 16:33b, Jesus tells each one of us “You will have suffering in this world.” However, He goes on to encourage us “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Expectations & Perspectives:
We can continue to expect life to be perfect and easy which results in our being completely knocked off our feet, left bitter and disappointed every time trials and suffering occur. But there’s another way! We can stand strong and courageous by being prepared for the trials that will come and reminding ourselves they are only temporary.
Not only are our trials temporary, but for those who have placed their faith in Christ, and in his death on the cross that paid the penalty for our sins, we have the hope of knowing that all the trials, suffering, tragedy and pain will end!! Being left with the joy of this great hope and anticipation of eternal life, free of evil and suffering! (Read Hebrews 6:17-19 further down)
So we can either focus on the temporary trials in our life and be sucked down further and further, emotionally, as we focus on ourselves and our troubles or we can gain an eternal perspective, focusing on what is to come after this short time on earth. Spending our short time on earth focusing on helping others, trusting in Gods great power and focusing on the amazing life we are offered for eternity.
Not much of a spiritual person, below are some mainstream studies that show self focus can exacerbate depression and anxiety, while focusing on helping those in great need can help diminish it greatly! It’s difficult to be greatly effected by negative thoughts when your mind is occupied with others needs instead of your own. When you help others you take the focus off of all your hurt, disappointment and struggles. There are tons of research in traditional psychology that supports this as well, below are just a few snippets.
“...sometimes, self-focus can become a hazard. When we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy thinking about ourselves – especially the things we feel we did wrong or the things we’d like to change – self-focus can turn into rumination... Rumination can trap us in a vicious cycle of overthinking about something, trying to correct what only feels wrong to us (others close to us will most likely not even realize there’s a problem), and then creating more self-doubt, inner conflict, and rumination. It’s a major contributor to depression and anxiety, sucks our time and spirit, and can lead to unhealthy coping strategies. In other words, while self-focus can be productive, rumination can be downright evil.” Excerpt form article by Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
•For it is in giving that we receive — Saint Francis of Assisi
•The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity — Leo Tolstoy
•We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give — Winston Churchill
•Making money is a happiness; making other people happy is a superhappiness — Nobel Peace Prize receipient Muhammad Yunus
•Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person — Goldie Hawn
“Scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Through fMRI technology, we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it's pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.” Excerpt from “time.com” by Jenny Santi
“When we help others we feel happy. There appears to be a direct correlation with overall well-being and giving our time, money or other resources to a cause that we are passionate about. Studies suggest that people who volunteer report better health and more happiness than people who do not volunteer.” Excerpt from “psychology mri day.com by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.
And I can’t leave out the Christian perspective from experts on this topic:
“Helping other people will help you: get rid of negative emotions like anger or grief, reduce stress, increase joy, improve your physical and mental health, renew your sense of hope about what’s possible, improve your sense of self-worth, and connect you to caring people.
Don’t let anything stand in your way. It’s easy to make lots of excuses about why you don’t want to help others: it’s inconvenient, it’s messy, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, you don’t feel like you can spare time or energy, or you’re just plain indifferent or apathetic when you encounter other people’s needs. Pray for the strength to avoid making excuses, and ask God to give you the compassion you need to truly care about other people’s suffering and the motivation you need to help them. Decide that you’re going to help other people regularly, because you want to become the kind of person who loves the way God wants you to love.” Excerpt from the online article https://www.crosswalk.com/family/finances/develop-a-lifestyle-of-helping-others.html
“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us...” Hebrews 6:17-19