Why Mindset Matters in the Spiritual Life
Many Christians and spiritual seekers severely underestimate the importance of mindset and the key role it plays in the spiritual life. Mindset and attitude are always a choice. Victor Frankl clearly argued that although we may not choose our circumstances, we can always choose how to respond.
Moving beyond Easter, I see three different mindsets from which we can now choose. The first is what I call the “Good Friday Mindset.” With this approach, we are always afraid, always disappointed, disillusioned, and never satisfied. Nothing is ever good enough. Life is unfair and it never pans out the way we hope. We feel lost, we feel confused, we feel angry and let down. We blame all of our problems on other people and never take responsibility. We feel like everybody is out to get us, and we can’t catch a break. The bad news keeps coming, we live afraid, anxious, resentful, and we have a hard time finding any sense of hope. It sometimes seems as though the ones who choose this mindset do not want things to get better because pessimism, bitterness, and negativity come naturally.
The second option is called the “Indifferent Mindset.” We exist and go through the motions. Life is mundane, repetitive, predictable, and boring most of the time. We feel like we do the same thing over and over again. We take our loved ones for granted, and we’re not really present with them. We’re just kind of here, and that’s about it. We spend a lot of time staring into our phones and other screens looking for new Instagram pictures or new emails to come in. Nothing really excites us. Nothing inspires us. Sadly, many choose to live this way every single day.
But the third mindset is the one most needed in our world right now – I call it the “Easter Mindset.” With the Easter Mindset, we make an intentional decision that we are sick and tired of the way things have been so we decide to live with energy, gratitude, and hope. We look at every day as a gift so we don’t take it for granted. We pay attention to sunsets, flowers, nature, new life, and children playing. We treasure friendships, family, health, and spring budding all around us. Forgiveness becomes essential to lighten our load. We stop looking for the worst in other people and we start seeing the good. We stop focusing on what’s wrong with everybody else and we start asking where we can improve and help others.
A key component to cultivating the Easter mindset is recognizing that there is a multibillion-dollar industry out there that exists to keep us afraid all the time. And in this business, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between what is true and what isn’t; what is fact, and what is opinion; what is relevant and what is noise. When we live our lives afraid and scared all the time, we tune into this media machine we don’t turn it off. It becomes addicting and consuming.
For Christians, that’s not the way Jesus calls us to live life to the fullest. His consistent message throughout the gospels is “Do not be afraid and do not worry.” Excessive fear squanders our existence. It can even lead to emotional paralysis and stagnation.
Once we cultivate this Easter mindset, we quickly recognize that fear does not win, hope wins. Death does not win, life wins. The evil of this world does not win because divine love wins over and over again. Once we learn to live this way, we will experience the world differently and discover meaning, joy, and fullness of life.
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