“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ~Winston Churchill
Have you ever had someone say to you, “Change your attitude?” I find myself saying it frequently to my teenagers, and they look at me like I’ve asked them to morph into an alien. Bad attitude and teenagers go together like white on rice.
In spite of their age-appropriate resistance to a healthy attitude, I remind them that attitude is a choice. Regardless of your life circumstances, you always have to power to change your attitude. And what a power that is.
Your attitude is your disposition, your way of thinking, and the feelings that go along with those. A healthy attitude is characterized by a general sense of well-being and equanimity about life. You view the glass as half full rather than half empty. With a healthy attitude, you can respond to your life circumstances with balance, positivity, and control.
Why do we encounter some people, full-grown adults, with a healthy and positive attitude about life and others who always seem to complain and focus on the negative? It’s true that one’s natural personality and disposition can affect attitude. Certainly life circumstances and unpleasant situations can affect it. But those things don’t have to determine one’s attitude.
A healthy attitude begins with awareness which is the precursor to choice.
When you become aware that you have the power to choose your attitude, regardless of life circumstances, then you have the power to change the entire tenor of your life. Attitude is also a habit, a habit that can be changed once we have the awareness of choice.
Take a moment now to ask yourself these questions:
- What is my general attitude most of the time?
- What do my friends and family say about my attitude?
- What situations or circumstances shift my attitude negatively?
- What situations or circumstances shift it positively?
- Do I frequently shift back and forth between a positive and negative attitude?
- In the past, how have I felt when I’ve chosen to have a healthy attitude?
It is important to examine your “attitude state” on a regular basis. Sometimes we unknowingly fall into patterns of negativity that can diminish our sense of well-being and joy for life. Maintaining a healthy attitude is vital for many reasons:
A healthy attitude keeps you physically and mentally healthy.
When you have a generally positive and balanced attitude you are less prone to stress, anxiety, and depression. You are also more likely to want to take care of yourself, eat healthy, and stay fit.
A healthy attitude enhances relationships.
Your attitude can either attract or repel people. A healthy attitude is very attractive. People desire to associate with others who are generally upbeat, balanced, and not prone to frequent complaining or negativity. This doesn’t mean you must be happy all of the time. It means you regularly return back to the awareness and choice of seeing the glass half full.
A healthy attitude creates opportunity.
When your attitude is healthy, you are in a frame of mind to recognize opportunity and act on it. Your awareness is open and positive. When you have a bad attitude, you shut things out of your life. You are closed and resistant.
A healthy attitude fosters discernment, objectivity, and clear thinking.
When you are in a generally positive frame of mind, you have the ability to handle life’s difficulties with more brain power. You aren’t distracted by the cloud of negative thinking and feeling. Your mind is clear and able to discern the best actions and decisions in any situation.
A healthy attitude promotes learning.
Again, with a clear and receptive mind, you are more engaged in life. You are curious and interested in the world around you. Your mind and psyche are open to learning new ideas and behaviors. And accomplishment in these endeavors further promotes your healthy attitude. This is a way of building the habit of positivity.
A healthy attitude makes you appear more attractive.
When you are in a negative frame of mind, it shows on your face. It takes a tolls on your body. The most physically attractive people are those who are comfortable and content in their own skin, regardless of the traditional standard of physical beauty. Positivity shines from the inside out.
If your attitude needs a bit of repair work, try these ten steps:
1. Take a moment to evaluate your attitude. Ask yourself the questions outlined above.
2. Ask for feedback on your attitude from someone who knows you well. Like having spinach in your teeth, it isn’t pleasant to have it pointed out, but you don’t want to walk around with it forever.
3. Challenge negative thinking. When you get in a cycle of negativity, turn the tables on yourself and challenge the thoughts with evidence to the contrary. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s totally true. Once you change your thinking, your feelings will follow.
4. Seek the good in the bad. Even when times are difficult or challenging situations arise, there is always something to be learned and gained from the situation. Take time to focus on that.
5. Let it go. Most things really aren’t worth worrying about. Make the effort to drop old resentments, anger, and frustrations. Work to forgive people who have hurt you.
6. Stop comparing yourself. This only breeds contempt, jealousy, and frustration which define a bad attitude. There will always be people in better and worse situations than yours. And if you want to improve your life, a healthy attitude fosters achievement.
7. Seek out the beauty and good all around you. Let the wonderful things in life rise to the forefront of your daily perception. Look for them everywhere, in the beauty of nature, the smile of a child, the taste of a good meal, the warmth of friendship. When you seek these things out, there isn’t much room for negativity.
8. Make life corrections where you can. If there are circumstances or events that consistently bring you down and effect your attitude, find a way to address these things. Don’t just accept them or tolerate them. They drain your energy and rob you of joy that you otherwise might be experiencing. Don’t settle. Ask for help from a coach or counselor if you need help.
9. Create accountability. Commit to a healthy attitude and back up your commitment by asking friends or family to hold you accountable with gentle reminders when they see an unhealthy attitude.
10. Begin each day with a choice. When you wake up, say to yourself or out loud if possible, “I choose a healthy attitude today.” Say it throughout the day or post it where you can see the words frequently. It is your choice in every minute.
A healthy attitude doesn’t happen by itself. Creating a healthy attitude requires consistent commitment, a plan of action, a support system, and lots of practice. Over the next week, pay attention to your own thoughts, reactions, and feeling, and see how you can begin small changes that will harness the life-changing power of a healthy attitude.
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