By AYANNA CLARKE
In continuing my Spring cleaning for this week, instead of picking up a broom or mop, I thought to handle my windows first. Because the clean windows let in more light, the room itself didn't seem as dark or dismal as before; helping me to see better what needed to be done in order to clean up the space.
Our outlook affects our perceptions, opinions and actions. We approach dark or unknown places with caution, and fear. But the moment some light comes in we become more confident and self-assured. I firmly believe that our quest to Spring clean our lives can be helped or hindered by our outlook. Perhaps we draw defeat because we think defeat in the first place. Our victory in many areas can perhaps be attributed to our initial confidence and affirming viewpoint. This is not saying to ignore limiting issues or facts that exist but according to the Word: "Good people produce good things out of their good hearts." (Matthew 12:35)
A part of this goodness is the trust that you will overcome obstacles and change for the better. If you begin from this vantage point, then each challenge will be faced with courage and an unwavering faith that things will turn out for your good.
Also, as we reshape our outlook, we must ensure that this is not a one-time act but a continual practice that should never get old. As we change, we don't want our old mindsets and way of seeing things to block or hinder us in any way. So many of us want to become better in many areas but because we never change our outlook, we can never see beyond our own limitations, thus limiting ourselves.
I want to pause here with a small caution. Be careful, windows do let light in but they also allow you to see out. Outlook has two main variables. It affects the way we look at ourselves and how we see others. Renewed outlook can make us judgmental, if we are not careful. Because we feel so good about our own improvement, we can begin to look at others who may not be moving at our pace as inadequate somehow. Your objective is not to focus on what others are doing right or wrong. Your goal is to concentrate on the challenge of becoming your best self.
Another experience earlier this week forced me to forge ahead in this lesson on outlook. On an early morning run, I ran into a man walking his dog. Here I am, running (at snail speed, of course), singing at the top of my lungs. So much so that I did not even notice that he had to restrain the dog until it was almost too late. My immediate thought: It's amazing that when we focus so much on our own progress, we can drown out the noise of all the barking dogs.
As your positive outlook turns more inward, what occurs on the outside ceases to have any lasting effect as you make your positive development the priority.
Never mind the negative clatter around you, the barking is not your concern. Besides would they really be barking if you were not moving?
Paul says in Philippians, "Brethren, I press toward the mark..." In other words, no one can do this for me, and I shouldn't let anyone hinder reaching that mark for myself. If I do the pressing, then I do the winning.
Outside happenings should never replace the goal of shaping your future to what God has said it could be. Changing your outlook gives you a renewed mindset that distracts you from the distraction of barking dogs on your journey toward progress.
God bless you this week.
• Ayanna Clarke is a psalmist, singer and author, who has recently released the inspirational book "In the Hands of the Potter".