A Pessimist’s Reflections on Intentional Positivity

It can take a lot of effort to be positive sometimes.

Ask any of the people closest to me and they will tell you that I am rarely optimistic. I never have been. And in case you were wondering, the glass is always half empty.

That’s why the idea of intentional positivity has never resonated with me on a personal level. Especially when I feel discouraged or sad, the last thing on my mind is being positive.

Honestly, it sounds ridiculous.

While I’ve struggled with chronic pain, I haven’t liked writing down things I’m thankful for or listing things that make me happy. I admired those bloggers and influencers who skillfully bullet journaled their gratitude or wrote long lists of things that bring them joy, but it seemed so beyond me. I always felt like I was lying to myself. It was so forced and rehearsed. I didn’t feel thankful or happy.

So why? Why be intentionally positive amidst discouragement? What good can come from it?

Here are a few reasons why I think intentional positivity is essential to spiritual and emotional health, even if you’re a pessimist like me.

1. Intentional positivity is grounding.

When I am struggling most with discouragement, I am often prone to worry. I get anxious and quickly allow my feeling to take over my perception of reality. I start believing lies based on what I feel instead of what I know.

Intentional positivity can be a very grounding experience because it forces you to think about something true.

Our culture has become so captivated with a nebulous and faulty “personal truth” that we have quite forgotten the power of the truth. The truth is that if I still have breath in my lungs, I have something to be grateful and positive about, even if I don’t feel like it.

Focusing on the truth through intentional joy and gratitude is a powerful grounding tool.

2. Intentional positivity shapes your perspective.

While being positive cannot erase pain or circumstances, it can play a major role in shaping your response to them.

When we focus solely on the pain of our circumstances, we risk missing out on some of life’s greatest joys and sweetest mercies.

Being grateful despite pain builds character. Being joyful in the face of heartache prompts personal growth because it requires us to dig deep within ourselves. Being positive despite circumstances can give us the hope we need to carry on.

This may not seem particularly hopeful in the storm. However, when we make a practice of intentional positivity, it has the power to carry us through some of the deepest waters.

Instead of choosing to worry about things that are out of your control, take charge of your response and choose joy.

3. Intentional positivity glorifies God.

The Bible says to think about what is true (Philippians 4:8), rejoice always (Philippians 4:4), and be thankful (Colossians 3:15).

Joy, truth, and gratitude are common themes throughout Scripture.

These have often seemed so unattainable for me. How could I be truly joyful and grateful when I was in pain?

The Bible is full of beautiful examples of broken praise, untouchable joy, and gratitude even amidst painful circumstances.

Job praised the Lord even when he had lost everything.

Job 1:21
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”.

Habakkuk’s people were being destroyed but he still was found reasons to be joyful in the Lord.

Habakkuk 3:18
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Intentional joy, gratitude, and praise are not only possible in hard circumstances, but are expected of us. When we find our strength and joy in God instead of in ourselves or our circumstances, it gives us the freedom to be positive even when we don’t feel like it.

When we worship despite our circumstances, God is glorified. Intentional positivity can be a useful tool to encourage genuine praise, even from a broken heart.


Intentional positivity is not supposed to minimize pain or discount feelings. There is a place for mourning, sadness and tears. This is simply meant to be a tool to help you focus on what is true and healing.

In my experience, intentional positivity is like a muscle. The more I “work out”, the easier it becomes.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to consider taking a step back and intentionally choosing gratitude.

What do you think about intentional positivity? How has it helped or not helped you?


2 thoughts on “A Pessimist’s Reflections on Intentional Positivity

Add yours

  1. Well said! I have really noticed that intentional positivity has caused me to look for the better parts of every circumstance that the Lord has led me through. I know that my life has been hard, but it really helps to know that even in my hardest struggle, the Joy of the Lord really is my strength, because His Strength is perfect


Leave a Reply to Alathia Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s