Three Steps to A Great Attitude in Tough Times

You’ve made a decision that will impact this moment, this day and your life.  You’ve chosen to live this day.  Frank Lloyd Wright once said

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

It’s called the Law of Attraction in positive psych circles, as well as by nearly every life/sports coach in the world.  In the early hours of the morning, there is a decision that I often make without realizing it has happened.  I’ve become conscious of it, toying with the thought a little: what am I going to live today?  Is today going to count?  Am I grateful for the possibilities, taking that slow spark of hope and being willing – with no concrete reason – to believe that this day is worthwhile, and my presence in it invaluable? Am I treating myself and those I touch with respect and dignity, or am I enmeshed in drama and frenzy?  Am I negative?

How do I make the day count, no  matter the circumstances?

1.  Choose a positive attitude.  That doesn’t mean that you’re floating on a cloud with no worries in the world.  It’s how you approach the inevitable problems of life, how you enculturate yourself in your surroundings, how you give the energy of love and life to people that you meet.  For instance, I was practicing intentional attitude yesterday.  I wanted to be approachable, have sustainable moderate energy instead of way to much for the normal person, to be a calming presence. I had a tough morning, and felt a little blue.  On the way to grad school, I chose music like Stephan Moccio, lyrical piano music without lyrics.  I talked with myself about the positive aspects of life – the early arrival of fall on my doorstep, the gentle breeze that promised a winter of snow, the hum of life around me.  It would have been so easy to play out the day in worry and regret. Once to school I stopped by the ladies room, and while washing hands noticed that the girl next to me was obviously having a tough day.  She had extraordinarily beautiful back hair and no smile.  I complimented her hair genuinely – and she broke into a smile and said “thanks.  You just made my day.”  Deep breath.  This day is already a success – she left smiling.

Once to  class I had the opportunity to sit near a new acquaintance that has a phenomenal attitude in his posture, voice and smile.  Mike is a sports psychologist, one of those former pro football/baseball guys with a serious talent to motivate the best players long term. With a big grin he said “You look like little red riding hood in that outfit.  I like it.”  I cracked up laughing.  Granted, it was a compliment that had to be made in the moment, with those kind and honest eyes matched to a big grin. Like the girl in the restroom, he made my day much lighter, affirmed my existence as positive.  Honestly, I’d been having a positive challenged “dread”  going to class. I often feel like the odd person out in there; in this small group several of the students have a two year old tight bond that excludes everyone else.  I chose, deliberately, to live out the day with that energy and presence, and was delighted to have it reflected back to me.

2.  Attitudes are constructed in your own mind & soul…they are not situational.  You chose who you are, simple as that.  Yes, there are factors that comprise your personality – but the longer that I live, the more I see how important it is to chose who you are, not to use the “I should” rules that you learned from your parents or life in general.  Attitudes are durable if they’re authentic.  Do you want to live the life your in?  Are you happy with the dream? Are you made whole and complete by the love your giving and getting? Is your faith sustaining you…and can it be tested without falling to pieces?  It’s all in the attitude…and that is the decision that I’ve made.  I’ve decided in the deepest parts of my mental makeup who I am going to be today, if I am going to run those unhealthy old patterns of life, or if I am willing to break out of past performance and set a new goal, no matter how large or small.  I have no idea what the next twenty four hours really hold in store for myself, my family or mankind.  It is possible that within the framework of the next few hours, all of the history of man might change.  How exciting…or frightening.  Charles Swindoll once wrote:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

 3. Challenges are necessary – and often, blessings.  The car will break, the kids will melt down, you will find a tear in your panty hose – challenging circumstances are part of life, that’s not going to change.  It means that you are a participant in this thing called life.  It does not mean that you are a victim of circumstances. Your attitude and perception are something that you create, even when those circumstances are really tough.  If you’ve lost a person that you honestly loved, you’re going to be in pain.  If you are facing joblessness, a divorce, loss of a parent, spouse, sibling, child…all heartbreaking.  I read a really great quote yesterday that went like this:

“I finally figured out how to let him go and to move past the pain that loving him brought.  Instead of holding his memory so tightly, I realized the one that needed the embrace of love was me.  I chose me.  Once I saw that I had life, breath, and hope? I realized that I’d been holding on way to long because I was afraid that when the ghost of him faded, I’d fade too. I’m grateful that I knew him – and grateful that the past is over.”

How you chose to approach the tough times is not dictated by your circumstances, even when they are heart-wrenching.  Yes, you still feel, you still may worry, you still may miss a step, fall or even break. You always, always have a choice, even when you’re on the floor in tears.  The Christian bible addresses this one pretty simply.  “In every life, there will be trouble.”  Admittedly, that isn’t the best news to us all.  Between the options of loss and life, Christ said “Choose life.”  So, the real question here is this, do you choose to see blessings in life’s challenges no matter your personal faith system?  Blessing is universal from the Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Wiccan perspectives.  Good karma….is elemental in a great attitude.

Be the blessing when life gets you down. 

Give yourself love and respect. 

Whatever you chose to be – do it deliberately.  Don’t live life like it’s happening to you from the bleachers. 

Get in the game.

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