How can we stay positive in a negative world? Here is a mental technique that I find helpful as I struggle, like everyone else, to stay positive in a negative world.

We all have a limited amount of energy to spend in any given day. If we spend too much, we begin to run on stress and that’s when bad things happen. Therefore, we need to keep our supply of emotional, mental and physical energy at appropriate levels. It is our duty to get enough sleep, exercise, and right food so that we replenish our bodies. And we need to laugh, take breaks, get away, not try to be super people, understand we can’t please everyone, watch out for our perfectionist tendencies—all those things are important to keeping the bank account of energy re-supplied.

Then we have to be careful how we spend that emotional energy. Let’s walk through a typical day. You leave home in a good mood, but before you get to work, there’s a traffic problem or the driver in front of you is very slow or something. So, the blood pressure starts rising and you’re spending emotional energy. As you get to your job, the phone is ringing and you have to deal with an angry, upset caller. You spend some more emotional energy. About mid-morning the computer goes down, then your boss dumps more work on you and you’re already behind schedule, a co-worker irritates you and causes you problems, you get a headache at noon, and the day goes downhill from there.

You’re emotionally broke by noon; the account is empty because you’ve spent all your emotional money on those little things. Now for the rest of that day you’re running on stress, saying things you shouldn’t, taking your frustrations out on innocent people, and doing damage to your body. Not smart, is it? You’ve wasted a lot of emotional energy on things that, for the most part, don’t really matter.

So, try to be very careful about how you spend your emotional energy. Make it a matter of prayer and talk to yourself a lot throughout the day as you run into those negatives. I say things like “Mary, what difference is this going to make in 24 hours?” and if it doesn’t have a 24-hour significance, I shouldn’t spend any of my energy on it.

Throughout your day make yourself more aware of how you’re spending that emotional energy, and keep asking, “Is it worth it?” And by God’s grace with his wisdom, you will learn to be much more frugal in the way you spend your energy.