Sometime in our academic careers, many of us had to write a paper which compared and
contrasted a subject. For me it was one of the more difficult things to do. It was an exercise in
finding how two points were similar, then conversely writing how they were different.
During my time with the State of Arkansas, one of my responsibilities was to write
opinions of state-level grievance decisions. These opinions were for the Chief Operating Officer
for the state. The COO’s office reviewed the decision and decided to either uphold the decision
of the panel or to overturn it. The decision came from two papers – one to uphold and one to
overturn. I just thought it was difficult to compare and contrast subject matter. Now I was
writing one paper in favor of and one opposing a decision! At times I felt like I had to develop a
In all the decision papers I had to write, one thing was absolutely necessary, which was
emotional control to prevent a skewed opinion. I had to write equally fair opinions. So many
times, we let our emotions highjack our thinking which then leads to behaviors driven by
feelings rather than logic and control. For instance, if we have an overwhelming feeling of
danger we might react in an anxious manner. If we think someone has “stepped over the line” in
their interaction with us, we might react in anger. But if we have a mindset of wanting to
contribute positively to the world around us, we might act with a sense of accomplishment and
pride. Yes, a contrast of positive versus negative thinking.
So how do we have a thankful mindset? One way is to not be introspective. If we look
inward and the situations we are in, we might feel anger, guilt, or embarrassment. But if we look
outwardly and appreciate what we have received or what we have in our lives (not what we don’t
have), we feel a sense of gratitude, and gratitude leads to behaviors such as giving back and
What contributions are you making to the world around you? It would be very easy
during our present times to completely isolate ourselves in our homes with the television as the
only outside contact we have. As an old saying goes, “You can’t make sweet grape juice from
lemons.” We must filter the bad information coming into our lives, look at it with a logical
mind, and not let it drive our mindset.
So, how do we set our minds on the “thankful track” every day? The best way is putting
pressure on your knees – prayer. Jesus knows our emotions, our trials, and our sufferings. Who
better to talk to than someone who has “been there, done that!” Alone we cannot be at our best.
But with Christ as our coach, mentor, advocate, and friend, we can change the world around us
by allowing Him to change our perspective!