Good advice comes from a variety of sources. The Buddha, for example, taught, "With our thoughts, we make our world. Think of evil thoughts and as surely as the cart follows the ox, evil will follow you. Think good thoughts, and goodness will surely be yours."

What we think can make or break our day. Some people live with a positive attitude and choose to look for a good next step even when a problem occurs. Problems can be seen as opportunities rather than blockades. A negative thought or frown may discourage a positive next step.

Some people set such high standards for what will make them happy that they are usually unhappy. "Neat freaks," as they are sometimes called, can only be happy if everything is perfectly arranged and clean. I knew a lady many years ago, when smoking inside the house was acceptable, who had an ashtray on the coffee table. But one wouldn't dare put a cigarette ash in it for fear she would immediately take the ashtray to the kitchen to clean. I seem to remember that she had clear plastic on her furniture as well so the material wouldn't get stained. Should any of these failures occur she wouldn't be happy. I've also been with people who expect everything to be perfect for some occasion. If the top layer of the birthday cake begins to lean to one side, the whole party is thought to have been a failure. Perhaps that is an extreme case, but some people have extreme expectations and little humor.

Maintaining positive thoughts can make a difference in the way we live our lives. The Book of Proverbs has a lot of good advice. "Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23) We can pay attention to the thoughts of the heart not just to the wisdom of the mind. Sometimes the heart produces more loving thoughts. And looking for positive thoughts can be good for our health. "A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

Some serious problems may not be so easily resolved by the power of positive thinking. Such issues need to be addressed in a realistic way. But we don't need to make the problem worse in an attempt to gain sympathy. We can dare to look up. In the letter to the Philippians Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord. "Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-7)

Our thoughts can promote peace or become our worst enemy. A recital of illnesses and complaints can wear us down and bring our family and friends down too. A constant complainer is likely to lose friends. Instead, be vigilant and let new energy flow from your heart.