One of the things we discuss at Boomer quite a bit, particularly during meeting and particularly during the start and end of meetings, is positive focus. Of course, this is consulting jargon, but it just means taking an optimistic approach to what we talk about. In a meeting, this means trying to start a meeting by thinking about the good things that the company or people in the company have been doing. It means ending the meeting by focusing on what good things came out of the discussion. Until working for Boomer Consulting, meetings were the bane of my existence. After working there for six months, I actually look forward to many of our meetings and find that a surprisingly high percentage of those are exceptional. Positive focus is part of the reason for this.
I've decided that the reason I've really come to despise current events and particularly current events reporting is because of the opposite, negative focus. For example, Terri frequently listens to the CBS Radio News on 1350 KMAN in the mornings. This morning there were five consecutive negative stories. If I recall correctly, they were about how the United States is failing in Iraq, Pakistan, Afganistan, accusations that the President is a liar, and a school shooting. First, I don't expect to turn on the radio and hear about flowers and hear the laughter of happy infants, but as far as I could tell, 3 out of 5 of those stories could have been passed over for items focused on something positive. Second, we are entering a period in the United States that is most especially focused on negativity, election season. However, I think American's are very negatively focused right now and have been getting more and more negatively focused for decades.
Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why I like to listen to Rush Limbaugh. His commentary on the news presents several benefits to other sources. First, I agree with about 80% of his opinions—most often I agree with him on policy, but I sometimes have a different set of reasons for agreeing, particularly on immigration. Second, he reports interesting stories that don't get much coverage by other news agencies. Third, he makes connections with history and with past actions of individuals based upon a very detailed knowledge of current events over the last 20 years and history in general. For example, if he mentions something a politician says today or an accusation brought against a politician, he often remembers stories from 2 or 10 years ago that add additional relevance to the news story. Finally, Rush Limbaugh is an optimist and while he often discusses the bad and the ugly, he manages to work in the good too.
I also find it interesting how this ties in with my current study of the book of Daniel (which, btw, continues apace, but is stalled briefly while I read ahead and gather more context before tackling the next section which is rather complicated). Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Misheal, and Azariah (or perhaps more commonly known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, or Rack, Shack, and Benny to the VeggieTales crowd). Daniel was nearly killed once and actually assigned a death sentence later for obeying God in a country that did not allow for the religious freedoms we have in the United States. Similarly, his three friends were also thrown into a furnace to be burned alive for the same "crime" of failing to worship the state mandated god. Yet, after these men survived each ordeal, they did not denounce their leaders. They did not work to usurp their authority. They, in fact, went back to posts in the government and continued to work under these same kings as they were able.
This kind of behavior is almost unthinkable to the modern mind. They should have demanded their rights. They should have gone to the press and sought support for the forced removal of these leaders from power. Perhaps there wasn't the modern media of today (though, one of the kingdoms involved was Media Persia, hah hah) but these were well-connected and poewrful men in each of these kingdoms (i.e., the three men were actually a tribunal of presidents over the province of Babylon and Daniel was the chief of these three and later the King's chief advisor). It isn't hard to imagine that they could have worked out a plot to overthrow the King, but they didn't try.
Instead, these men had faith in God. This is, in my opinion, the archetype of positive focus. Positive focus is seeking to look for the good in general experience. Whereas faith is seeking for and believing in the source of all good, God. Furthermore, when I refer to faith, I don't refer to some abstraction. Otherwise, I wouldn't mean any more or less than I mean by positive focus. Faith without an object and a doctrine to find the object, is just positive focus.
Therefore, being a Christian requires me to be optimistic because I know that God's plan for the future is an excellent one. For me, positive focus is not so much something to strive for, but a mandate. Finally, let me conclude with a verse, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8)