©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

Can we just admit it?  Control is something we crave.  Yet, even in the “normal” world, most of what we have or encounter in our own lives is beyond our control.  Genetics.  Jobs. Health. Talent. The lives of children or grandchildren.

What about the world as a whole?  Pandemics, politics, weather, nature, even our HOAs and computer operability are outside our control.  (The latter is fresh on my mind with recent computer freezes and printer malfunctions!)

Sure, we can (and should) get involved and take prudent steps to influence circumstances and situations that we care strongly about, but ultimately final control is not ours.

What then can we control?  That question is a good one – even at times when we aren’t dealing with stay-at-home orders, business closings, and event cancellations.

Some of us may be in solitude, but we can still control our attitude and our gratitude.


Yes, we can control our attitude. We can choose joy.

Some days may be more difficult to put on a smiling face that’s genuine, but implementing certain actions will generate more positivity.

Put these tips in practice for the next 7 days and see how much more upbeat you become. Come on.  Try it!

  • Replace negative thoughts and speech with positive ones. Every time you start to criticize or complain about someone, reframe it into a positive thought. Pause before you speak (or post!)
  • Struggling to change thoughts or words? Pray for the person or group of people you planned to demean or denigrate. Yes, pray for them – daily! You may be amazed at how your heart changes!
  • Listen less to agitating and argumentative people and programs. Would you guzzle a product marked poison – hourly, daily? This doesn’t mean being in a bubble and avoiding what we don’t like or having considerate conversations. Just choose wisely what you watch, hear and read.  What we take in mentally affects us emotionally and even spiritually!
  • Read or listen to uplifting, educational and encouraging works – books, magazines, podcasts, webinars, or Zoom-based seminars.
  • Find encouraging Bible verses and memorize at least one a week. Not thinking of one? Dig into Scripture, use Biblegateway.com to search, look at these suggestions, or ask a friend to recommend some.
  • Laugh every day (but not at others’ expense).
  • Nurture a houseplant or plant flowers. Plants help reduce stress and looking at them reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation.
  • Exercise daily – walk, garden, run, bicycle or participate in online classes. Many people exercise not only to help their bodies but also to refresh their minds.
  • Do something for someone else every day. Many ways exist to touch lives even when physical distancing. Be creative – or just call!

Attitude alteration also benefits from working towards a purposeful goal.  What would you like to accomplish right now?  More steps? More healthy eating? More reading? More connecting with people you miss from the past?  More progress on a neglected project?  More helping others?  More tech-savvy? More knowledge? More Bible study?  More calm?  More closet space?

Set at least 3 clear short-term goals to accomplish by May 22. Identify steps to reach those goals. Then go for it!

One last suggestion on attitude adjustment. Read a chapter of the Bible every day.  Not sure where to read? Consider John, Mark, Ephesians, Isaiah, Philippians, Colossians or Psalms. Regardless of where you begin, you’ll discover that opening the pages – and your heart – to God’s Word will do a work in you.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Now, how about some action to impact attitude?


Grow your gratitude with these actions.

  • Reflect on what you have that others don’t. House?  Yard?  Spouse?  Parent?  Car?  Computer?  Wi-fi?  TV?  Food?  Money in the bank?  Millions of people around the world don’t have any of those.
  • Make a list of what you don’t want to lose – and you’ll start a list of what to be most grateful for right now.
  • Thank God (and others!) just as often (preferably more!) than the times you ask for something. When our requests (dare we say “demands”) outweigh our thanks, our gratitude meter has plenty of room to climb.
  • Our gratitude grows when we’re thankful not only for what God (and others) do in our lives, but also for who they are and what their presence brings to our lives. What attributes of God and those close to you impact your life? Contemplate this. 
  • Be humble.  Do something to help someone anonymously.  Begin to tackle areas in which you’d like to improve.
  • Identify people you’re truly thankful to have in your life and let them know. Reach into the past too.  Someone who made a difference in your life would love to hear from you.
  • Be mindful of what God gave us, what He gives us daily and what He promises us for the future. The grace, forgiveness, and eternal life found through Christ is a gift of the highest value.
  • Give sacrificially of possessions and funding to help others. Perhaps now’s a difficult time financially for you. Your gift to others of time and attention is meaningful. When we’re grateful, we give.

Finally, and most importantly, when it comes to control and accepting our lack of it, what truly matters is whether we trust God, remember His faithfulness, and rest in His promises and love.  The peace that brings is far beyond anything we can do in our own strength.

So, when you’re feeling like a day – a week – a month – seem out of whack, remember you can take steps (with God’s help) to guide and control your attitude and your gratitude.

How and where will you lead those two?

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a NIV

  • What word would those closest to you use to describe your attitude right now?
  • Which three action steps will you commit to undertake this week to boost your attitude and your gratitude?
  • What impacts your attitude the most?  How can you address that?
  • When you think about Christ’s life, what is the first thing that comes to mind about His attitude?  Are you aligned in that same mindset?

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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