Moving From Selfie to Selfless

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.

Eleanor Roosevelt

We have become a selfie-driven society; we would rather take a picture of a moment than enjoy being in the moment.  This constant need to post and repost has led to an incredibly self-absorbed state of being. 

Eleanor Roosevelt said it well. We have created false realities in our minds in which we think the world revolves around our every thought. This way of thinking, along with the smart phone and social media, has given rise to unprecedented levels of anxiety.

In the recent Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., Social Psychologist, shared alarming information about the correlation between anxiety in teenagers and social media:

“There has been a gigantic increase in depression and anxiety for American teenagers which began between 2011-2013. The number of teenage girls who were admitted to a hospital for self-harm since has risen 62% for older teens (15-19) and 180% for pre-teens (10-14).”
“Even more horrifying, we’ve seen the same pattern with suicide. Rates in older teens girls (15-19) is up 70% compared to the first decade in this century. For pre-teen girls (10-14) they are up 151%. This pattern points directly to when social media became available in 2009.”

Over the coming weeks, Life+ will focus on anxiety among teenagers, and specifically, the impact of gratitude on anxiety. 

Numerous recent studies have detailed how a grateful heart can minimize the impact of anxiety on our lives.  Modern day science and counseling are coming to a biblical reality that has been around for thousands of years. Pastor Ben Stuart does a great job of addressing this issue in the sermon below.

When Paul addressed this issue in Philippians, he focused on the idea of thanksgiving intertwined in prayer. His perspective shows us that all prayer must be rooted in gratitude:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4)

As good as this sounds, we have all experienced the challenge of letting go of worry…even through thankful prayer. The real key to Paul’s comments are found in the following verses:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4)

It is here that Paul gives us a simple secret to dealing with stress and anxiety: we must learn to set our minds on things that are excellent and praiseworthy. 

So much of our time is spent on worrying about other’s opinions or playing out “what if’s” in our minds.  We spend far too much time focusing on things that are not true, or even real for that matter.   

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it only empties today of its strength.

Charles Spurgeon

Paul’s final comment brings this reality full circle.  He starts these verses by saying the “peace of God” will be with us and he ends them by saying “the God of peace” will be with us. We must constantly be reminded that God’s power and presence are with us each day. 

May we not waste another day, or another hour, allowing our minds to roam aimlessly worrying about things that are not real. 

May we set our minds upon the truth of Christ each day and walk in the reality of God’s power and presence.  

Doug Langhals
Doug Langhals
HHCA Head of School

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