DCL 5.3 Instruction | People Who Bounce Back Are Optimists

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

(2 Timothy 1:7)


When you learn to accept responsibility for your problems and your failures, you are better prepared to fail forward. But what about when you are faced with overwhelming difficulties that you did not create and you cannot control?

At no time in life are people more likely to allow failure to overcome them than when external circum­stances cause extreme hardship or grief. There is a strong temptation to give up and quit. No matter whether the difficulty is self-created or comes from outward circumstances, the feeling of failure is created within them. Failure is always an inside job.

Remember: A man is not defeated by his opponents, but by himself.

No matter how daunting the circumstances of your life may be, the greatest battle you wage against failure occurs on the inside, not on the outside. How do you fight that battle? You start by cultivating the right attitude.


Video Presentation: Todd Mullins, Lead Pastor and Shaun Blakeney, Student Ministry Pastor, Christ Fellowship, Florida


How do you cultivate optimism? By learning the secret of contentment. The truth is that possessing healthy contentment is essential to being able to withstand failure. First, let’s look at what contentment is NOT:

1.  Contentment is not hiding your emotions.

2.  Contentment is not being satisfied with a bad situation.

3.  Contentment is not maintaining your current situation.

4.  Contentment is not position.

5.  Contentment is not power.

7.  Contentment is not possessions.


Contentment comes from having a positive attitude. It means:

  • Expecting the best in everything – not the worst.
  • Remaining upbeat – even when you get beat up.
  • Seeing solutions in every problem – not problems in every solution.
  • Believing in yourself – even when others believe you are a failure.
  • Holding on to hope – even when others say the situation is hopeless.


If you think positively and do nothing, you will not be able to fail forward. You must add positive ac­tion to a positive attitude. Here are some principles for taking positive action:

1.  Do not try to change things beyond your control.

2.  Know the difference between a problem and a fact of life.

  • A problem is something that can be solved.
  • A fact of life is something that must be accepted.

3.  Focus on solving problems that produce greatest positive impact.

4.  Move into action.

The people of Norway often experience bitterly cold weather. Nonetheless, they enjoy the outdoors even in the worst of winter. They have a saying that shows their positive attitude: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”


If He Can Do It…You Can, Too!

Roger Crawford was born with serious physical disabilities. Various medical professionals told his parents that he would never walk, would not be able to take care of himself, and would never lead a normal life. Roger said, “My parents never let me feel sorry for myself or allowed me to take advantage of people because of my handicap.” Roger became successful as a consultant and public speaker. He has written two books. His attitude towards his handicaps shows the attitude everyone should have towards problems, adversities, and failures in life. He said, “Handicaps can only disable us if we let them. This is true not only of physical challenges, but of emotional and intellectual ones as well…I be­lieve real and lasting limitations are created in our minds, not our bodies.” In other words, no matter what happens, failure is an inside job.


Biblical Case Study: Solomon (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, Proverbs 23:7-19)

King Solomon mistakenly pursued many goals in a vain attempt to satisfy himself. He tried to find satisfaction in accumulating things: houses, gardens, vineyards, flocks, slaves, etc. By the time Solo­mon wrote the words in Ecclesiastes Chapter 2, he had reached a high level of success – but he still felt empty. Sadly, he tried to solve an inward problem with an outward solution.

Even though Solomon seemed to have everything anyone could possibly desire, he felt like a failure. Is it not strange that the person who has a life filled with problems and the person who has a life filled with pleasures and possessions can both feel empty? Both can see themselves as failures. Why? Be­cause failure is an inside job! “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Consider the timeless principles we can learn from Proverbs 23 about our minds:

1.  Your thoughts determine your actions. (v.7)

2.  Avoid selfish thinking. (v.10)

3.  Discipline your mind with truth. (v.12)

4.  Do not let your mind drift into negative thinking. (v.17)

5.  Remain confident in your God-given vision. (v.18)

6.  Ask God to fill your mind with wisdom. (v.19)

7.  Keep your mind steadfast on doing what is right. (v.19)

Remember: Do not let the failure on the outside penetrate to the inside of you.



  • What are the three greatest sources of frustration and failure in your life? Consider the items one at a time.
  • Determine whether each one is a fact of life (which you need to accept and move on) or an item that requires positive action.

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