One of the ways we can strengthen our sense of optimism and create joy in our lives is through noticing what’s right.

A few weeks ago I and three members of our Tatura congregation were travelling to Melbourne – Box Hill Town Hall to be exact – and were running a little close to the time we needed to be there as we were told “well before 2.00pm”.  We were travelling to attend the presentation of the Ecumenical Awards which were taking place as part of the Uniting Church’s Victorian Tasmanian Synod (a large conference held every 18 months). Our parish had been nominated for the work led by our Murchison congregation in recording over 650 hymns, songs and choruses for use by churches who do not have an organist. We have deliberately gone for very simple arrangements, the organ accompanied by 10 -15 ordinary (no offense intended) voices from the Catholic, Anglican and our own churches. They have been well received and people comment how having the extra voices strengthens the singing for small rural congregations, unlike some of the other available recorded music which can be overpowering with the music being too fancy and with huge choirs.

When you are running behind time it’s easy to forget to enjoy the moment and instead start noticing all the things that are delaying the journey (and maybe collecting a litany of excuses as to why we were late, such as “Oh, you should have seen the traffic!”)  But we were in high spirits and with all the laughing and looking at iPads you’d have thought we were much younger than our birth certificates might suggest. But what we did notice was that, time and again, we were just getting through the busy intersections as the light went orange. It became a bit of a game, counting the orange lights, so much so that we didn’t register the delays that are inevitably part of a long road journey. Inadvertently we had created a mindset of “noticing what’s right”. It didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be setbacks and delays, but we were looking for the positives.  Experts agree that those who “look on the bright side” experience more happiness than those who try to “see things as they really are”.

Lucky people create, notice and act
upon the chance opportunities in their lives.
Being in the right place at the right time
is all about being in the right state of mind.
Richard Wiseman

They say that happiness is the weather, and joy is the climate. Climate is what you expect and the weather is what you get, and likewise optimism and joy are what we expect and life is what happens. There may well be unexpected storms and troubles but our underlying attitude will affect how we experience such events. If you only focus on what’s wrong, you will not experience joy. You will experience discouragement, depression, low self-esteem. But when you focus on what’s right about a situation—the exact same situation—you’re increasing the possibility that you will experience joy and high happiness.

Oh, by the way we didn’t win, but we did receive a highly commended award and a cheque for $100!

This is the gospel, and it’s good news.

Brian Spencer, Minister