Negativity can overwhelm us and override our focus and attitude, resulting in feelings where you become negative and feel defeated. But, we choose our focus. If you want to experience God’s peace, change your thought life. Read more for how to make a shift and obtain peace.
The professor’s test: choosing your focus
I heard of a professor who presented her class with a surprise test. She passed out the test face down on each student’s desk, as she customarily did, until all tests had been distributed. When each student possessed a test, the professor instructed them to turn their paper over and begin an essay regarding what they saw on the front of the paper: a single small black dot in the middle of the white piece of paper.
The students glanced down at the page then up at the professor, then at each other with unspoken questions in their eyes. She offered no further explanation before sitting down at her desk. Each student began writing.
After the allotted amount of time, the professor collected all the tests and much to the students’ surprise began to read their essays aloud to the class. When she exhausted the pile of essays, the professor explained that she would not grade this exam, but she hoped each student would learn from the experience.
Each student focused on some aspect of the black dot: they had written about the size of the dot, the color, the diameter, and the way the dot blemished the otherwise clean white page. Yet not a single student focused on the white space surrounding the dot, which encompassed much more space than the small black dot.
She went on to explain that so often this is our tendency in life: we focus on the few things that go wrong, are negative, or that bother us, rather than the many good, positive things we could choose to make our focus.
Shift your focus
Ever since hearing that story, I’ve challenged myself to intentionally shift my focus to the positive aspects of situations, because otherwise the negativity will overwhelm and override my focus and my attitude, and result in a cascade effect where I become negative and feel defeated about other, unrelated situations as well.
Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) encourages us to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (emphasis added).
Choosing your focus can lead to peace
There is a direct correlation between our thought life and the degree to which we experience His peace. Here Scripture shows us that if we will keep our thoughts on the positive things from Him, things worthy of praise, then we will experience peace. So rather than focusing on the negative black dot like a thorny weed, let’s pay more attention to the beautiful, praise-worthy white space all around us that is the open field of peace.
In Him, #PeacePrevails!
Every day can be a good day when you trust the promises of God.
Today is Going to be a Good Day
My newest book, Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises from God to Start Your Day Off Right is now available!
This uplifting devotional helps you make each day a good day no matter what is going on in your life.
When life conspires to drag us down with all of its troubles, it can be hard to keep our spirits up. In times of severe illness and depression, I learned that when I stand on God’s promises, despite my circumstances, every day can be a good day.
Each reading includes Scripture, reflection, prayer, and a recommended playlist song designed to help you live out Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
For more information on the book visit: Today is Going to be a Good Day Book
The students focused on what they thought she wanted them to see. We focus on what the devil wants us to see, when the peace is all around us in the white space, I can see how I was focusing backwards,
The enemy is always tempting us to focus on the negative. We have to be very intentional to focus on having the mind of Christ! But the more we do it, the more natural it will become! #HopePrevails!
I’m the kind of person who focuses right on that black dot. I really loved this story and I know I will remember it throughout my day as a reminder to focus on all that white space around me! Thank you! I’m so glad I was your neighbor at Purposeful Faith today. Sharing!
I love this reminder to be careful what we focus on! It’s so timely, as God has really been speaking to me about this as well. And what a great illustration to remember. He is always so much bigger, so why spend so much time on the small bit of black!
Thank you for this reminder. I am often struck by all of the things that are our CHOICES in scripture. Having faith, living by faith, growing in the word, loving our brethren, being joyful, etc – all are CHOICES. Too often we give over to Satan what comes easy, the way our minds think. We say that we cannot help it. Yes we can! But it takes work. As you said, it takes focus. And focus can be hard – but the results will be beautiful.
That’s true. Because of Jesus we can obtain God’s peace. All that is Jesus’ can be ours. Thanks so much. Blessings to you!
What a cool insight and illustration! I hope I focus more on all the positive than the little bit of negative.
It is so easy to focus on the negative. When I’m intentionally positive, the day is so much easier to consume.
I needed this post today. My eyes are focused on the wrong thing. Thank you. It is so important to keep our eyes focused on the positive and God, thank you for the reminder. Negativity can also rub off. When hanging out with people that are a little more on the negative side I find myself traveling that path a bit.Of course I love these people but I need to be aware of my own attitude. Maree
Great post and much needed today! My intention has been to focus on the positive. I’ll be honest, some days its a challenge! I am inspired by your words, “let’s pay more attention to the beautiful, praise-worthy white space all around us that is the open field of peace.” Beautiful words. Thank you for sharing!
What a great post! So true! Love the example of the teacher and the black dot, that will stick in my mind, and help me focus more on the “white space”…things above! Many blessings to you!
Such a great challenge to notice the positive things instead of focusing on the negative aspects in our day-to-day living. Thanks, Michelle.
Amen!!! What an awesome message!!! Change your focus! Funny, my hubby calls what I do looking through Rose Colored Glasses but I do look at the positive side of things rather than the negative. You just affirmed my way to doing things but even more than that is a confident hope in the Lord and His way of doing things. I know that any negative thing in my life, He already knows about it so why not focus on the fact that God is GOOD, HE LOVES ME and He has a plan for my life. Thank you for this amazing message and encouragement! I do so love and appreciate you Dr. Michelle!!
Yes! I’ve been challenged by the “black dot on the page too.” It taught me a powerful lesson on where to focus.
The example of the teacher and the dot is one to remember! “There is a direct correlation between our thought life and the degree to which we experience His peace.”
It is easy to be caught up in all the negativity that swirls around in my head and throughout my day. God wants us to focus on His positive and uplifting presence that we would be convinced that He has all the details of my life under His control. I am seeing a difference as I trust God to align all the circumstances of life to be full of joy and expectation of His blessings.