Much has been written and spoken about attitude. In fact, you can find literally “tons” of information about the right mental attitude, positive attitude, a winning attitude, and so forth. So what makes this article different?
Like everything else in life, having the right attitude requires practice. Your attitude is the key to success in every aspect of your life such as your health, wealth building, relationships, success at work, and enjoying everyday life. Your attitude is more than just a decision to “think happy thoughts” although thinking happy thoughts is certainly a key to developing a positive mental attitude.
My assumption here is that you are reading this because you already understand the importance of your attitude. You also understand that there is a difference between choosing to have a positive attitude and the difficulty to maintaining a positive attitude.
Your body requires proper care and feeding to achieve and maintain good health. You simply cannot eat one nutritious meal, take one vitamin, and have one really great exercise day to be healthy. This applies to your attitude as well.
Developing and maintaining a positive, healthy, and productive attitude begins with making the choice to change your attitude. The decision to have a great attitude is the starting point and that decision is a daily decision, even a moment by moment decision. With all that life throws our way each day, just the decision alone can be tough. Here are some tips on how to properly care for and feed your attitude.
1. Be thankful. You and I both have circumstances in life that take a toll on us everyday. Most of the time we let negative circumstances get the best of us and our positive mental attitude takes a beating. Take a moment, several if necessary, and reflect on what you have to be thankful for. If you are having trouble getting started let me suggest you go to a mirror, get real close to it, and breathe on it. If a fog appears on the mirror you’re in good shape…you are alive. Next, think about other things for which you are thankful, even the simplest things such as your family, your job, the very fact that you are able to read this. Each of these are true blessings and for every blessing you can think of there is someone who does not have such a blessing. There have been innumerable studies investigating the link between good health and a thankful attitude. In a story that aired on the CBS Radio Network’s The Osgood File, Dr. Michael McCullough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, said their initial scientific study indicates that gratitude plays a significant role in a person’s sense of well-being. Develop an attitude of gratitude.
2. Have faith. Research has shown that 97% of the things that people worry about never come to pass. The remaining 3% are things that are mostly beyond our control, so there is nothing we can do about them anyway. A small portion of that 3% are the direct or indirect results of the decisions we make so learning to make better decisions is the key to avoiding the worries that we can control. Have faith in yourself and the decisions you make regarding the things you can control. Have faith in the One who created you and know that He is looking out for you. Have faith that good things are in store for you and focus your attention to the good rather than the bad. Life is made up of opposites. Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Faith has an opposite called fear. Both work equally well. When you allow fear to dominate your thinking you literally bring negativity into your life. Bad things happen, even though you do not desire them, because you are operating from a fearful expectation. Faith, on the other hand, brings positive things into your life. There is not enough room hear to fully explore the deeper meaning of the effects of faith and fear. Let me summarize the concept of faith in this manner, expect good things and good things will happen. Develop an attitude of faith.
3. Guard your mind. Look at the influences in your life. Decide which of these should be eliminated or at least minimized. According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, the average American watches over 4 hours of television each day. That comes up to over 9 years by the time you are 65 years old! Most of what is available to watch on television has very little positive value. Do the TV shows you watch leave you feeling empowered or deflated? If what you watch, listen to, and read bring you down instead of lift you up you need to stop allowing those things into your mind. Like it or not, they have a profound negative influence on your attitude. The same is true with the people in your life. Do you know someone who brightens the room by leaving it? Do you associate with someone who constantly has some bad news to share or some tidbit of negative information about someone else to expose? Avoid them like the plague! These people will only cause a negative effect on your attitude. Eliminate everything possible that affects you negatively. This may be difficult at first because negativity is very addictive. In the end it is like taking in poison little by little, so get rid of it! Develop an attitude of discernment.
4. Feed your mind. You don’t have to look far to find uplifting, inspirational, and motivational literature to read. If you don’t have time for much reading, look into audio versions to listen to in your car as you travel to and from place to place. Music has the power to go beyond your conscious mind deep into your subconscious mind. A good rule of thumb in selecting the music you listen to is ask yourself “Do I feel better or worse after listening to this?” Consider if the TV shows you are watching are feeding your mind positive information. Seek out and engage in conversations with positive minded people. If you notice a conversation taking a negative turn, interject a positive comment or idea to bring it back on track. Develop an attitude of mental nutrition. This leads to the next process of The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Attitude.
5. Change your speech. Do a Google search on the phrase “power of words” and you will find 116 million results. The same search on Yahoo shows 122 million results. Words have power. Choose your words carefully. They can either be used to build up or tear down and as you already know, the words you say influence everyone who hears them. Your words originate in your mind so it is necessary to mentally speak to yourself with positive words. Keep them positive. By consciously changing your speech you subconsciously change your attitude. You will be amazed at how this one little piece of advice will bring positive changes to your relationships with others, but more importantly, the changes that will occur within yourself and in your own thoughts. Develop an attitude of positive speaking.
6. Give to others. Whenever possible, give someone else something they may not have. One simple gift you can give to anyone, anytime, without cost or loss to you, is a smile. Years ago, I adopted the motto of “Leave Them Better Than You Found Them” which can be as simple as opening the door for someone, smiling, offering a pleasant comment, and many other simple things. Of course, I recommend giving to charitable organizations but what I am talking about here is to give of yourself in some small way that makes someone else’s day brighter. In turn, you feel better by doing it. Develop an attitude of giving.
7. Lighten up. Start by being friendly to everyone. No one likes a sourpuss, so just lighten up and become someone who is easy to be around. People tend to like people who like them. Learning to like others will relieve a great deal of tension and stress in everyday life. Interestingly enough, if you follow the previous tips you will be amazed at how this one develops naturally. By becoming someone who others desire to be around you bring benefit to both them and yourself. You will soon find that those around you will begin to lighten up and model after you, even though they may not be aware that it is happening. Develop an attitude of pleasantness.
These tips on The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Attitude will help get you well on your way to keeping your attitude up and running smoothly. Just like caring for yourself physically you must care for yourself mentally. It is easier than you may initially think but it does require effort on your part. If attitude is everything then we certainly need to learn to take care of ours. You will be healthier for it.
Copyright 2005 Rory Elmore