Recession. Layoffs. Foreclosures. These are very stressful times. Yet psychology experts and various studies show that focusing on the negative can lead to health problems as well as emotional problems like depression.

Jesus reminded His followers that worrying is pointless since the Lord provides for the birds who neither sow nor reap and by worrying we can’t add an inch to our height (Matthew 6:25-27).

That doesn’t mean that we should sit back and do nothing because God will provide for us. God will definitely provide for us but we must take action to reap the benefits He shares. While the birds may not sow or reap they have to hunt for their food and take defensive action to protect themselves.

Here are 6 ways to control negative emotions and encouraging an optimistic outlook by putting our faith in action.

Pray. When Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer He gave them more than the words to use. He instructed them to pray “in this manner…” (Matthew 6:9) which included opening with some worshipful phrase, recognition that God is in control and you’re submitting to Him, then begin your request, and conclude with a worshipful phrase. But prayer is more than simply reciting the words to a common prayer or making a formal request of God. It happens whenever we talk to Him.

Be grateful. In these difficult times it can be easy to focus on what we’ve lost or what we don’t have. But our thoughts control the emotions we feel and constantly thinking about all that’s absent from our lives will encourage even more negativity. It can seem trite to say but there are always people worse off than you are now and if you’re unhappy at work be thankful for your paycheck, benefits, and the learning opportunities you still have. Celebrate the truly important things in life – good health, friends, family and appreciate the beauty of nature that surrounds you.

Give to others. We have a tendency to give from our abundance and cut back donations to others when our financial situation takes a downturn. Jesus praised the widow who donated “two mites” because she gave out of her poverty (Mark 12:43). Naturally we’re going to take care of our own basic needs and that of our families first but if we truly can’t spare money to give to those even less fortunate than we are, consider how you can give your time, effort, and energy to support your church or a charity your care about. Give your time and knowledge to others at work who would appreciate learning from you.

Reduce the time you spend with negative people. In his book, The No A**hole Rule, author Robert I. Sutton discusses the findings of researchers who studied the feelings of employees based on their contacts during the day. While the people studied had more positive than negative interactions during the day, the negative ones had five times the impact on their mood than positive experiences. Do your best to minimize your contact with negative people and take action to develop as many positive relationships as possible.

Speak positively to yourself. “How you think about your problems, including depression itself, will either relieve depression or aggravate it,” says Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. A past president of the American Psychological Association and considered the father of Positive Psychology, Seligman’s work, demonstrates the power our thoughts and actions have on our emotional states. Pay close attention to the comments you make and the thoughts you have because the chance is good that you’re fueling your own negative emotions. Change those comments and thoughts and you’ll change your emotional state.

Take action. Buy a travel mug and make coffee at home rather than paying for it on the road. Update your resume. Read the want ads. Network with others through a professional association. Visit the library instead of the book store. Taking positive action helps you feel as though you’re in control, gives you a renewed sense of power, and makes you feel good. It shows you refuse to be a victim of the economy or the media’s constant bad news.

As individuals, we can’t change the state of the economy or the world but we can change how we react to those things. This changes the state of our emotional bank account and our small corner of the world. Being a more upbeat and optimistic person allows us to share those positive emotions with others and spreads optimism – which is in short supply -- rather than negativity which is all too abundant in the world today.

Author's Bio: 

Writer and consultant Winnie Anderson publishes "The Mustard Seed," a twice monthly ezine featuring articles, tips, and resources for creating a faith-centered career. Get a fr*ee chapter to the e-book “Faith From 9 to 5: How to Overcome the Seven Deadly Sins and Live Your Faith at Work” when you sign up at It’s the book Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus calls “…provocative and reflective!”