ATTITUDE IS ALTITUDE
You may be tempted to ridicule the concept of “attitude adjustment” because it has become the major theme of motivational posters and coaching materials. But there is real power in controlling your attitude, adjusting it to counter moods and stop behaviors that may threaten your ability to live without limits. The psychologist and philosopher William James, who taught at Harvard University, said that one of the greatest discoveries of his generation was the realisation that by changing our attitudes, we can change our lives.
Whether you are aware of it or not, you view the world through your own unique perspectives or attitudes based on your beliefs of what is good or bad, wrong or right, fair or unfair. Your decisions and actions are based on those attitudes, so if what you have been doing isnot working, you have the power to adjust your attitude and change your life.
Think of your attitude as the remote control for your television set. If the program you are watching doesnot do anything for you, then you simply grab the remote and change it. You can adjust your attitude in much the same way when you arenot getting the results you want, no matter what challenges you encounter.
When you experience a tragedy or a personal crisis, it is perfectly normal and probably healthy to go through stages of fear and anger and sadness, hurt at some point we all have to say: “I am still here. Do I want to spend the rest of my life wallowing in misery, or do I want to rise above what has happened to me and pursue my dreams?”
Is it easy to do that? No, it is not. It takes great determination, not to mention a sense of purpose, hope, faith, and the belief that you have talents and skills to share. The age-old, time-proven, undeniable truth is that you and I may have absolutely no control over what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. If we choose the right attitude, we can rise above whatever challenges we face.
You likely will have no control over the next adversity in your life. A windstorm hits your house. A drunk driver crashes into your car. Your employer lays you off. Your significant other says, “I need space.” We are all blindsided from time to time. Be sad, feel bad, but then pull yourself up and ask, “What is next?” Once you have lamented awhile, vented, or shed all the tears in your tank, pull yourself together and make an attitude adjustment.
You would not have the wisdom and knowledge you now possess were it not for the setbacks you have faced and the mistakes you have made, and the suffering you have endured. “Once and for all, come to realise the pain is a teacher and failure is the highway to success,” Robin Sharma commiserates.
People who are successful, fulfilled, happy cannot be pessimist. That is because optimism is empowering—it gives you control over your emotions. Pessimism weakens your will and allows your moods to control your actions. With an optimistic outlook, you can adjust your attitude to make the best of bad situations. This is sometimes described as “refraining” because while you cannot always change your circumstances, you can change the way you look at them.
When you allow circumstances beyond your control to determine your attitude and actions, you risk plunging into a downward spiral of hasty decisions and faulty judgments, to overreacting, giving up too soon, and missing those opportunities that always—always—appear just when you think life will never get better.
Pessimism and negativity will ensure that you never rise above your circumstances. When you feel your blood boiling due to negative thoughts, tune them out and replace them with more positive and encouraging inner dialogue. Once again Robin Sharma advises that to live happier, more fulfilling lives, when we encounter a difficult circumstance, we must deep shifting our perspective and continually ask ourselves, “Is there a wiser, more enlightened way of looking at this seemingly negative situation?”
Choose attitudes that allowed you to rise above difficult circumstances. There are many attitudes to choose from, but Nick Vujicic believes the most powerful are: (1) An attitude of gratitude (2) An attitude of action (3) An attitude of empathy (4) An attitude of forgiveness
AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
When we feel entitled to the good in life, we feel robbed and outraged when something happens to make us uncomfortable. We then look to blame others and demand that they pay for our discomfort, whatever it might be. In a self-centered state of mind, we become professional victims. Yet pity parties are the most tedious, unproductive, and unrewarding events you could ever attend. You can only listen to “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” so many times before you want to tear your hair out and run for cover, Nick humors.
You should reject the victim role because there is no future in it. Suffering brings us to a fork in the road, and we can choose the downward path to despair or we can take the hopeful path up the hill by adopting an attitude of gratitude. You may find it difficult at first to be grateful, but if you just decide not to be a victim and take it day by day, strength will come. If you cannit find any aspect of your situation to be grateful for, then focus on good days ahead and express gratitude in advance. This will help build a sense of optimism while getting your mind off the past and looking toward the future.
By choosing an attitude of gratitude over one of victimhood or bitterness or despair, you too can overcome whatever challenges you face. But if you find gratitude hard to come by, there are other approaches that might work for you.
AN ATTITUDE OF ACTION
Sometimes the best method you will find for moving your life out of a rut or over an obstacle is to make life better for yourself or for others. Socrates said, “Let him that would move the world, move himself first.” When it seems like you cannot catch a break, try creating your own. When you have been hit and knocked down by an overwhelming loss or tragedy, allow yourself time to grieve, and then act to create some good out of the bad.
Adopting an attitude of action creates positive momentum. The first steps are the hardest, no doubt about it. Just getting up out of bed may seem impossible at first, but once you are up, you can move forward, and as long as you are moving forward, you are on a path away from the past and toward the future. Go with that. Move ahead step by step. If you have lost someone or something, help someone else or build something else to serve as a memorial and tribute.
One of the most devastating experiences is the loss ofa loved one. Losing a family member or a friendtriggers grief that can cripple us. Other than perhapsbeing glad for having loved them and known themand had time with them, there is little to be gratefulfor in such situations. Nothing prepares us for thegrief that can overwhelm and even paralyze us. Still,some take action so that their terrible loss becomes aforce for good. According to Nick a well-known example is CandyLightner, who channeled her anger and anguish intoaction after her thirteen-year-old daughter was killedby a drunk driver. She founded Mothers AgainstDrunk Driving (MADD), which undoubtedly hassaved many lives through its activism and educationprograms.
Robin Sharma on his part believes that the mark of strong character lies not in doing what is fun to do or what is easy to do. “The sign of deep moral authority appears in the individual who consistently does what he ought to be doing rather than what he feels like doing. A person of true character spends his days doing that which is the right thing to do.”