When I was kid, my dad told me that there was always one thing I could control. He made me guess. For days, I asked him, “Is it this? Is it that?“ No, nope, not it.

Finally, he told me the answer. “No matter what’s happening, you can always control your attitude.”

I’m not sure that particular life lesson has always played out.

Can you control your attitude?

I agree that, generally speaking, optimism, hopefulness, joyfulness, etc. are essentially decisions that we make in our minds. In many circumstances, happiness is truly a choice, and you can make it happen.

But sometimes, it can feel like things like discouragement, depression, and anxiety are insurmountable. How do you control your attitude when things are weighing you down so heavily? I can choose to be happy again and again, only to be toppled again in a vicious cycle without ever gaining ground.

I haven’t totally mastered controlling my attitude yet, but I have found two things that I can always control:

Thanksgiving and worship.

You can choose to give thanks

Thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks (duh, right?). Even if I’m not feeling it, I can choose to open my mouth and speak gratitude. Even if I can’t yet master myself enough to thank God for a troublesome situation, I can still choose to speak thankfulness for the simplest things.

“Thank you God for that tree over there.” Am I really thankful for that tree? I don’t know. Not really, but something happens when we speak it. From there, I find that 100% of the time, my gratitude grows. It’s like that paper clip trading experiment. Little by little, the things I’m able to say “thank you” for increase, until everything has changed.

Thanksgiving is choosing to speak, even when I don’t feel like it.

I can choose to worship God

Worship is the same. I can choose to sing to God, I can choose to speak God’s praises. Even if I’m not “feeling” it and it’s 100% forced, I can make that choice to open my mouth and worship. Almost all of the time, before too long, the authenticity of my worship will grow.

This is true even though I’m not naturally a person that gravitates towards musical worship. It’s not something I just naturally love and want to do. I always have to choose musical worship.

The more I’ve made a habit of choosing it for years and years though, the more God has increased my “natural” love for it.

Psalm 92:1-4 says this:

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

It is good to give thanks.

It is good to sing praises.

The Bible tells me so.

When stuff hits hard, I can’t always willpower my attitude to a better place. I can’t just muscle through it. Sometimes failing to steamroll myself to a better attitude will even lead to more feelings of discouragement and defeat.

But I can choose what to do with my mouth. I can choose to give thanks. I can choose to worship.

When I do those things, it turns out I can control my attitude after all.

I guess it turns out my dad was right.

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