For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. – Proverbs 15:15

This proverb seems to say that we can choose how we feel about life. We can choose to be despondent, or we can choose to live with a happy heart.

How can that be a choice? Paul gives us a clue: “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. . . . Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9, emphasis added).

It’s been proven that what we think has a huge effect on what we feel. God made us and knows we work that way, so he inspired Paul to remind us to pay attention to what we are telling ourselves. One of God’s gifts to you is the ability to choose the focus of your thoughts. And choosing rather than just reacting is key to taking back your life.

Today, when you get a despondent thought, reject it. Argue against it. Remind yourself that you are choosing a happy heart. That may feel phony at first, but it’s really not. It’s choosing to focus on the truth—which is that God is bigger and more wonderful than any of our day-to-day feelings.

Ask Yourself
Why do you think so many people, perhaps including yourself, choose to focus on negative thoughts that leave them despondent?

Are there times when it’s appropriate to feel sad or down? How can you respond to your feelings honestly while still focusing on positive truth?

Ask God
Lord, I want to live with a happy heart. Help me to focus my mind on what is beautiful and good—especially you.

Taken from Take Your Life Back Day by Day copyright © 2016 by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.