Focus on the Good (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

The first sentence of Scott Peck's book, The Road Less Traveled, is, “Life is difficult.” He then goes on to say that if you accept this, you will be fine. Life is full of adversity, and none of us are immune. That is why, in order to progress, we must focus on the positive aspects of life.

Here are four strategies for focusing on the positive aspects of life, especially during difficult times.

1. “Tough Times Do Not Last, But Tough People Do.”

“Difficult times don't last, but tough people do.”

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The title of Dr. Robert Schuller's excellent book is the quote above. The title alone tells you everything you need to know about the book.

We've already had a difficult 2020, and 2021 could be just as difficult. Vaccines and proper protocols, it is hoped, will get us through these trying times. Americans in the twentieth century endured two World Wars and the devastation of the Great Depression. They had to be tough to get through these times, and they were. It is now our turn to demonstrate our toughness.

I can think of three instances in recent years where people demonstrated their toughness.

The first is related to the Catholic Church and the heinous pedophilia scandal. It was, in my opinion, one of the worst periods in the Church's history. What happened to the children was heinous. Another aspect of the problem was the clergy who had been falsely accused. Two of them in the Chicago area were aware that they were innocent and demonstrated their toughness in various ways.

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The first got through it through prayer, specifically for his accuser. Prayer can be an excellent way to get through difficult times. The second managed to maintain his optimism. He said he kept repeating a line from Rose, John and Bobby Kennedy's mother: “After the storm, the birds always sing.”

Both men were exonerated after enduring a harrowing ordeal. Their accusers eventually admitted to lying.

Another way to get through difficult times is to call on the best of people. During the worst bombing of London during WWII, Winston Churchill told the British people, “Never, never give in!” That is exactly what the British people did.

Another way to get through difficult times is through perseverance and hard work. When I worked at Providence High School, we were planning to build a gymnasium. We wrote a paper outlining why we needed the gym and presented it to wealthy members of our community.

The vote was 16-0 in favor of not attempting to build during such difficult economic times. Because of the work ethic and determination of one man—Father (then Bishop) Roger Kaffer—Providence now has a gym.

Finally, in athletics, teams go through difficult times. We began one season 3-6. We decided to go back to the basics. Because we returned to the fundamentals, we finished 9-2 and competed for the conference championship. During difficult times, all organizations can return to their core values.

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Prayer, optimism, relying on our best selves, determination, hard work, and our core values can all help us get through difficult times.

2. Keep a Positive Attitude

“Keep a good thought” is an Irish proverb that encourages people to think positively. Through our thinking, we can find the good even in the midst of adversity.

“It isn't what you have, who you are, where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy,” Dale Carnegie wrote. It all comes down to what you think about.”

I liked the basketball coach because he had an interesting point of view on thinking. He asked the referee if he could give him a technical foul for his thoughts. The ref said, “Of course not,” to which the coach replied, “I think you stink!”

Willie Nelson, in one of his many songs, cautioned against negative thinking. The refrain was, to paraphrase, “Think of the good times because the bad times weigh like lead on your mind.”

Our students at the University of St. Francis would travel to Bolivia on an annual basis to assist the people in building and repairing homes. When I asked them what they learned from the trip, they said two things: they couldn't believe the poverty the people lived in, and they couldn't believe the people's positive attitude. Their generosity, wit, and compassion were incredible. Despite their difficult circumstances, they managed to maintain a positive attitude.

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Mother Teresa summed up the importance of positive thinking when she wrote, “Spread love wherever you go.” No one should ever come to you unless they leave happier.”

When you are determined to “Keep a Good Thought” in the face of adversity, you can focus on the positive aspects of life.

3. Live in the Present Moment

When we are happy, we tend to focus on the positive aspects of life. “If you want to be happy, don't dwell in the past, don't worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present,” wrote Roy T. Bennett.

Guilt and worry are two emotions that can rob us of our happiness. Jeffrey Nevid referred to them as “useless emotions.”

Guilt is associated with the past. We have the option of carrying guilt for something we did in the past. That is our prerogative, but the reality is that we cannot change it. It's all over! What we can do is learn from it and then move on. Learning from it is the easy part; moving on, which is the only realistic option, is the difficult part.

When Mark Twain wrote, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which happened,” he had a great insight into guilt's partner, worry.

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We worry far too often about things that never come to pass. If guilt and worry are associated with our past and future, and if they are “useless emotions,” the only option is to live in the present.

During my first 25 years as a basketball coach at the University of St. Francis, we didn't have a bus to take us to away games. The vans were driven by us, the coaches. In Illinois, there were 21 NAIA teams, but only six made the playoffs. We finally had the opportunity to be one of the six, but we needed to win one more game. We played a team that was about 5 hours away. We were down 12 points with 4 minutes remaining in the game. We rallied to make two free throws with two seconds remaining, putting us up by one point.

They inbounded the ball to our free-throw line, which was 79 feet from their basket. Their player threw a “Hail Mary” pass toward their basket, and it went right in, knocking us out of the playoffs! I had the choice of dwelling on that unbelievable ending and living in the past, or living in the present and safely driving our players back to campus! Fortunately, we arrived safely at our destination.

We can concentrate on the positive by making ourselves happy. Many people have confirmed that we have the ability to make ourselves happy.

  • Aristotle kept it simple, saying, “Happiness is dependent on ourselves.”
  • “Happiness is not something that is readymade,” wrote the Dalai Lama. It is the result of your own actions.”
  • “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – that is all that matters,” said actress Aubrey Hepburn.
  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” Mahatma Gandhi said.

We can focus on the good things in life when we will ourselves into a state of happiness by staying in the present moment.

4. Assist Others

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up,” wrote Mark Twain.

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Pat Warren, a former high school classmate, was constantly cheering up our friends when they were going through difficult times. I'd hear about the person in pain and tell myself that I had to see him. Pat was unavoidably present by the time I finally got to see him. He was always thinking about the good he could do for others, especially during their difficult times.

Joe Madden, the former manager of the Chicago Cubs, used to tell his players, “Never let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” I witnessed one of his players perform the pleasure.

On the north side of Chicago, one of my grandchildren was participating in a Little League game. He was playing on one field while another game was taking place on another. When I looked over to the other field, the game had come to a halt, and all of the players and fans had gathered around someone.

Ben Zobrist lived close to the park where the kids were having fun. He had been named the World Series' Most Valuable Player the previous year. So there was a lot of pressure on him to perform well the following year, but he didn't let the pressure get in the way of his giving pleasure.

The Cubs were playing that day, and he lived close enough to Wrigley Field, their home stadium, that he would frequently ride his bike there in his uniform. He did, however, ride over to the park where we were before riding to his game that day.

The players and adults alike were ecstatic to see and meet the 2016 World Series MVP. He stayed in the park until he had signed every autograph on both fields! It was an act of random kindness, and he gave the kids a lot of joy. Despite the pressure he was about to face in his game, he focused on the positive.

Several pundits have excellent insights into the many aspects of helping others.

“People appreciate and never forget that helping hand, especially when times are tough,” said Catherine Pulsifer.

“Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than doing something for others,” Martin Luther King said.

Charles Dickens described two types of people who assist. “There were two kinds of charitable people: those who did little and made a lot of noise, and those who did a lot but didn't make any noise at all.”

Finally, Jim Rohn stated, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

Helping others, especially during difficult times, allows you to focus on the positive aspects of life.

Final Thoughts

During difficult times, we can focus on the positive aspects of life in four ways:

  • By being tough and not being afraid of the difficult times
  • By keeping a positive attitude
  • By remaining in the present moment
  • By being available to others

Remember that tough times are unavoidable, but they will also pass. The key is to focus on the positive, and you'll get there in the end.

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You have heard it all before: "Live life to the fullest", "follow your dreams", "be who you are" and "if it is meant to be, it will be". These are all wonderful quotes that are meant to help you live a happy life but they miss the point. Our lives are interconnected with each other and with the world.

No matter how hard you think you try, there’s always going to be a certain level of stress in your life. And when stress gets out of hand, it can start to negatively affect your life. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are some easy steps you can take to improve your life in the long run, and we’ve found a few that can help you enjoy a better life and get rid of stress.

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