Get A Check-Up From The Neck-Up

Ensure your positive attitude with a check-up from the neck-up.

If you’re like me, you know you’re “supposed” to have a positive attitude. 

But for most of my adult life, this “attitude thing” really bugged me.  First of all, I didn’t know what it meant to have a positive attitude.

Did it mean, for example, that a person would never feel down?  That seemed impossible.  My training in psychology told me that it was normal to experience a wide variety of emotions, from the pleasant to the unpleasant.  In fact, experiencing a wide range of emotions gave life a bit more spice and excitement.

I also wondered if having a positive attitude automatically eliminated all problems in life.  So I carefully watched people in my seminars, in my travels, and in the various organizations I visited.  I watched thousands of people and interviewed hundreds of them.  Some of them seemed to have a very positive attitude, while others seemed to have a very negative attitude.  But they all had one thing in common.  They all had problems.

So I learned that a positive attitude did not necessarily guarantee everlasting happiness or a trouble-free life.  But I did learn what constitutes a positive attitude, why you should have one, how to get it, and how to stop yourself from losing it.

For the purpose of this article, let me outline two ways to get a truly powerful, positive attitude — that is also healthy and realistic. 

1.  Understanding

That’s right.  A winner understands the importance of a positive attitude.  In fact, all the research indicates that a simple turn in your attitude will make all the difference in the world.  Dr. Martin Seligman, for example, discovered that attitude was a better predictor of success than I.Q., education, grade point average, or almost any other factor.  He found that people with “positive attitudes” stay healthier, have better relationships, and go further in their careers.  He even found that people with positive attitudes make more money.

Winners also understand the nature of a positive attitude.  It is not wild-eyed, turbo-charged behavior that is going in a hundred different directions.  And it is not a fanatical commitment to one and only one goal in life; that would lead to a life of imbalance and workaholism. 

Winners understand that a positive attitude is nothing more than a calm, committed decision to stay positive … no matter what the circumstances. 

Unfortunately, there are so many people who just don’t get it.  They don’t fully grasp the importance or nature of having a strong, healthy, positive attitude. 

Of course, the winners get it.  The respected TV commentator, Hugh Downs, gets it.  He says, “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but a person with a certain set of attitudes.”

And 16-year old Anne Frank, the famous Jewish refugee and diarist got it … even though she was hunted, persecuted, and killed by the Nazis in World War II.  She wrote, “Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news.  The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be!  How much you can love!  What you can accomplish!  And what your potential is!”

What about you?  Do you have a really positive attitude?  I certainly hope so … because good attitudes bring good results … and bad attitudes bring bad results.  It’s as simple as that.

So the first way to get a more positive attitude is to understand its importance and then decide to have one.  A second way has to do with living that attitude.

2.  Living

People with a strong, healthy positive attitude live their lives.  They really LIVE them — deeply, fully, each and every day.  They don’t waste any of their emotional energy muttering such pitiful comments as “Another day, another dollar” or “I’ve got just five more years, three months, and two days and I’m out of here.”  In essence, people like that are not living their lives. They’re simply enduring them.

In the movie, “Brave heart,” Mel Gibson portrayed the famous Scottish warrior.  And he summed it up better than most.  Brave heart said, “Everyone dies, but not all people actually live.”

Again, what about you?  Are you truly living your life now?  Are you accomplishing each and every one of your goals … now?

Or are you putting them off — until the kids leave home, you get remarried, find a new job, buy a different house, have less stress, finally retire, or just plain feel like it?  If any of that sounds like you, you DO NOT have the kind of positive attitude that will lead you towards success. 

By contrast, I am reminded of one 83-year old woman who wrote to her friend about living life NOW.  She exemplified this second component of a positive attitude.  She wrote:

  •    “Dear Bertha,

       I’m reading more and dusting less.  I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden.  I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.  Whenever possible, life
       should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure.  I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

      I’m not ‘saving’ anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom.

     I wear my good blazer to the market.  My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries.

     I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.

    ‘Someday’ and ‘one of these days’ are losing their grip on my vocabulary.  If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

     I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted.

     I think they would have called family members and a few close friends.  They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles.  I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or
     for whatever their favorite food was. 

    I’m guessing; I’ll never know.

     It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited.  Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days.  Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them.  I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.  And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.  Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God. 

    I don’t believe in Miracles.  I rely on them.” 

UNDERSTANDING and LIVING.  Those are two of the ways you can get a more positive attitude. 

So take a checkup from the neck up.  Rate your rate your attitude on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, with 10 meaning you are “strongly and persistently positive all the time.”  Rate your attitude at home, at work, and in all the other aspects of your life.

If you score yourself as anything less than a 10, ask yourself, “What are you doing to raise your score?  Or what will you do to raise your score once and for all?” 

Action:  If you’re not quite sure about your attitude, how good or bad it is, you could take the quiz on pages 24 to 26 of my “PIVOT” book.  And if you want a step-by-step guide that raises your attitude … and ensures your success … once and for all … you should get a copy of my “PIVOT” book in the 7-audio CD format and listen to it over and over again.