The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
~William James (1842 – 1910)
Attitude…. What a powerful word.
manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes. (Source)
Notice the one little section that states “Especially of the mind” our attitude is just that, ours. We control it, it does not (or at least should not) control us. Yet all too often, we allow it to just that, our attitude all too often becomes a commentary on outside forces. We allow forces that we cannot control, friends, work, and weather, to control us. Attitude is not beyond our control, it is within our control, if we would only take control.
I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.
~Martha Washington (1732 – 1802)
Martha Washington, the wife of George Washington lived a hard life. A life of service to her country, a life of war and peace a life that called upon her many times to sacrifice. You will not read it in the history books, but she did. She had to be a woman of great courage and one of positive attitude. She had to be selfless in all she did, for she allowed her husband to go off to war and lead a revolution that, by all accounts, could not be won. She left to take care of the farm. She again offered her husband to our new and struggling nation to attend the constitutional conventions, a thankless and long task, leaving Martha to tend to the family farm, once again. Still more was asked of her, as she and George we honored with the task of becoming the first leader of this Great Nation, no simple task. No, hers was not a life of leisure and pleasure; hers was a life of service and attitude. Yep, Attitude… Martha, based on what I have read of her, was a remarkable woman, one of strong opinions and full of positive attitude. We all can learn a lot from not only George Washington, but his wife Martha as well.
Jesus has something to say about our attitudes as well, He provides us with the Beatitudes as a guide to follow.
Reading the Beatitudes can be a hard task, if you do not understand how to read them. If you do not understand the meaning behind them. However, put simply, Jesus is telling us, we are in control or our outlook, our attitudes towards life and self. To the poor He promises the Kingdom, to those that mourn, comfort and so on. But what is He saying? Is Jesus saying that the poor are the only ones to see the Kingdom and the mournful the only ones to receive comfort? Nope, not at all. The poor is not referring to the lack of money, but rather the lack of faith, yet in this lack I should not despair, for Jesus states I will see the Kingdom. So rejoice and be glad, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.
It is our attitude we control, we have the power to see the glass as half full or half-empty, and the Beatitudes are lessons in seeing the glass as half full. What a valuable lesson. A lesson that has been taught over the centuries by many a great teacher, none greater than Jesus, but still many a great teachers. Yet it is a lesson we still need to learn. Knowing that I am poor in Spirit, yet will still see the Kingdom of God does not mean I stop trying to deepen my faith, sit back and just wait, rather it means I double down and study, learn and grow in my spirit, knowing that it will always fall short, but also knowing that Jesus understands, and the Kingdom will still be at hand. That is the power…
Dr. Wayne Dyer states, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you are looking at will change”, so true and so powerful, yet most of us refuse to do so. Changing our outlook, our attitude, is not easy, we have been programmed to accept that this is the way it is, outside forces determine our attitude, and we have no control over it. Such a false understanding, yet it is the understanding the majority of people have. How often I have heard “They can’t help it, that just how they are, that’s who they are”… To state it directly and simply, that’s just bull crap, a cop-out, we all have control of our lives, we all can change out attitudes, our outlook, and determine for ourselves what our future will be. We just have to work at it…
The task is hard, the journey long and the pitfalls will be many, your drive will wane and your ego will protest, but it can be done, you can change your attitude, you can see the glass as half full, if you only work at it. Yes, sometimes I do see that 1/2 empty glass, but in moments like this I know it is my ego driving my attitude and not my soul, not my being. At times like this I step back and breathe deeply, re-focus my thoughts and realign my attitude, and re-image the glass as 1/2 full yet again. It is a mammoth task at times, but the pay-off is always worth the effort. The feeling of control over the ego, the knowledge that I am in control on myself are well worth the effort.
Attitude, you got one. I am sure you do, but the bigger question is, Attitude, you like the one you got? Is it a healthy attitude? Does it contribute to your overall happiness or is it a source of depression and discontentment? Try this, try taking an attitude assessment, simple write down your attitude towards things, family, work, life, politics, religion, faith, money and so on, rate them based on a 1 to 10 scale, 1 being extremely bad attitude and 10 being extremely positive attitude. Once you have completed this, look at your list, anything with a 6 or more score, consider good for now. Everything with a five or below score consider as areas that need improvement. Start with the 5’s, pick one, let us say its Job, and create an action plan to help you change your attitude. What can you do to create a new and better attitude concerning your current job? To help with this, write down all the aspects of your job that seems to be the source of your bad attitude. Look at each one and determine what action you can take to rectify this. It may be as simple as having a conversation with your boss or as complex as having to try and be transfers to a new department. Nevertheless, whatever the solution, whatever the problem, remembers you are in control of your attitude, no one else is!
Once you have fixed the first on your list continue through the rest of the list, and before you know it, your attitude will be better. However, your work is not done yet, nope… Because you know that, your coworker or whatever the source off your discontentment was will not just roll over and play dead. So now, you need to learn tools to help you cope with issues that will pop up. Best advice, find a saying or prayer that you like, one that reminds of your ultimate goal, a more positive and productive attitude, make a copies of it, place on all your office wall, put one in your purse or wallet, tape one to your bathroom mirror and one on your car visor. Frame one to hang in your hall, in other words place this reminder all over the place, so when the need arrives, just look at, read it and take a step back to contemplate it. Refocus your thoughts and realign your attitude. It takes practice, but it can be done.