A Recipe For A Positive Attitude

If you’re going to walk on thin ice, you may as well dance.

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

But for most of my adult life, this whole “attitude thing” has 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.

That’s what my book “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success” is all about.

For today’s purposes, let me outline some of the components of a truly powerful, practical, positive attitude — that is also healthy and realistic.

=> 1. Understanding

That’s right. Understanding the importance of a positive attitude. A positive attitude is not shown in some wild-eyed, fanatical, turbo-charged behavior that is going in a hundred directions. No! A truly effective positive attitude is based on reason and a knowledge of the truth — that all of the research supports the importance of having an appropriate positive attitude. Read chapters 1 and 2 in my book “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.”

One person put it this way:
“If passion drives you, let vision hold the reins.
Once you understand the opposing forces warring within you,
you come to a knowledge of the truth,
And you no longer remain a stone.”

Unfortunately, there are so many people who just don’t get it. They don’t fully grasp the importance 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? If you don’t get it or haven’t gotten it, I would urge you to make a decision — today — that few things in life are more important than having a persistent positive attitude. Decide that right here and now. And don’t worry about how you’re going to get one. We’ll talk about that later.

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

Again, what about you? Are you truly living your life now? Or are you putting it off — until the kids leave home, you get remarried, find a new job, buy a different house, or finally retire? If any of that sounds like you, you DO NOT have the kind of positive attitude you should have. Read chapter 3 in my book, “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To 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.”

Action:  How would you rate your attitude on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “Strongly and Persistently positive despite the circumstances in your life and in your work?

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