Attitude simply means the way we think or feel about something especially a situation involving others. We often believe that our attitude is determined by the situation or the people involved in the situation but the truth is that our attitude towards anything or anybody is determined by us. Our level of indifference or commitment to the affairs of the groups we find ourselves determine our attitude to such groups. It could be our organization, our family, our community or our church. Negative attitude makes us see only what is wrong with a situation without trying to think about the flip-side. Negative attitude makes us see what is wrong with every policy in our organization. It renders us susceptible and vulnerable to both internal and external emotional attacks. With negative attitude to everything, no meaningful personal development can be achieved. The factors that can help us understand attitude and put our lives under proper check are:
Choice: Freedom to choose is a very powerful natural endowment that many of us do not harness. Choice is a credible tool in the mind of every individual. Your attitude is your choice. You can decide to wake up late every morning; you can decide when to get to work (early or late). You have the power to decide whether to care for your health or not. You can decide to walk away from a heated argument or be part of it and probably start a fight. You can decide to remain calm to emotional triggers or react negatively to it. Again, Stephen Covey talks about the gap between stimulus and response. He calls the gap ‘choice.’ When I am provoked, I have the power to choose how to react. When I am given a job to do, I have the power to decide whether to do it well or ruin it.
You can decide to be different even when everybody has chosen the same path. It is your choice to be rich or poor, ignorant or knowledgeable, selfish or generous. That is why I said that choice is a very powerful natural endowment. The choices we make everyday determine how far we can go in life.
Principle: Principle helps us to develop a positive attitude towards all situations. It is principle that gives rise to choice and choice creates an opportunity to reflect before acting. This means that when something happens, a principled individual doesn’t just act, he reflects first. That is the gap; that is where choice comes in. And, as this principle is adopted, it widens the gap and as the gap is widened, the opportunity to reflect increases.
In the process of reflecting before acting or speaking, sometimes, you discover there’s no need to even act or speak at all. Imagine stepping into a gathering where an issue is being argued or discussed, a principled individual would wait, listen to all sides of the argument very carefully, identify their individual sentiments, affiliations and inclinations before ever speaking up. Imagine another scenario where an individual bumps into an argument and starts responding to the last speaker.
A principled individual understands that something worse could have happened when something bad happens. With this mind-set, he/she reacts positively when something bad happens. Imagine getting mad over a delayed flight without considering the fact that such delay would have saved your life and the lives of others. Think about breaking-up a toxic relationship, a principled individual would apply a positive attitude believing it’s an opportunity to meet a better person. By applying principle, we develop other virtues such as humility, calmness, fairness, self-respect, integrity and so on. These virtues have embedded positivity in them and can surely help one develop a positive attitude.
Knowledge and Understanding: It is difficult to be principled without having a good dose of understanding. Understanding comes from knowledge and knowledge comes through learning. Sometimes, we learn through deliberate attempt to overcome obstacles and disappointments of life. At other times, we learn through experiences and such experiences expose us to options of either letting them rule us or overcoming them. It is, however, better to be proactive; seek knowledge first rather than waiting to experience the situation even though experience is said to be the best teacher. You need to learn about marriage for instance before going into it. You need to build a mind-set about it and develop an attitude of success in it. I have come to understand that positive attitude generally makes our world appear differently. Others might think we are so lucky or so blessed to be happy in our marriages or in our careers but what they see is our attitude to them and not something so different from theirs.
Gratitude: This is another great step in developing a positive attitude to life. We must decide to be grateful even for being born into this planet earth. Be grateful that you didn’t die as a child; be grateful that you are human and not an animal or any other lesser being. Find gratitude in the fact that you can do many things that others cannot do. If you can read, just as you’re reading this now, be grateful because there are millions who cannot read. If you have a child in your life in or out of wedlock, be grateful for that child; if you can afford your daily bread, be grateful. If you have a job to do, be grateful for it. Your height, your skin, your spouse, your family, friends and well wishers are all reasons to be grateful. Forget about the things you do not have and don’t focus your thoughts on them. I’d rather be grateful for my Toyota camry rather than punish myself for the prado I don’t have. I’d rather focus my attention on the child I have rather than waste my thoughts and energies on a husband/wife that I don’t have. Just look around you, you may find something or somebody that probably annoys you; calm down and think of other sides of the individual or the situation, I’m sure you’ll find a reason to be grateful in that person or that situation.
Remember, it’s your choice.