A Tale of Two Tales

A positive attitude is a magnet for positive results.

For every obstacle in life there are TWO stories. Just check it out.

Take two people, for example. Both of them were born in a slum, abandoned by their fathers, and surrounded by drugs. The first person let those hardships hold him back. However, the second person accomplished extraordinary things in spite of … and perhaps because of … those hardships.

Or take two more people. Both of them had physical infirmities, experienced crippling accidents, and were given inadequate educations. The first person used her tragedies as a reason to give up, but the second person used her tragedies as a reason to get going. So you see … there are TWO stories to be found in EVERY difficulty.

Unfortunately, the first story is the most common story. It’s the story of people who’ve let their problems hold them back. So what accounts for the different outcomes? One thing … mostly. Attitude. So you need to…

=> 1. Understand the importance of attitude.

The research seems to be filled with documentation on the importance of attitude. Earl Nightingale, one of the foremost authorities on success, said, “A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds. It seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before we changed.” Attitude seems to open our eyes and fuel our energies.

Even the medical community seems to agree. In an Oxford, Ohio study of 660 people over the age of 50, those who had a positive attitude towards aging lived, on average, 7.5 years longer than those who had a negative attitude.

Dr. Toshihiko Maruta, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic also found a link between attitude and longevity. In reviewing a series of psychological tests, he found that pessimists had a risk of death for any given year that was 19% greater than average.

In essence, attitude seems to be so important it’s not only life giving but life saving. Just last week, one manager from Boeing wrote me saying the same thing.

He said, “My daughter made some bad choices during her late teen years and was going down a path of self-destruction. She delivered a baby out of wedlock at 19 years of age and, unfortunately, developed pre-eclampsia which went into the HELLP Syndrome. Her liver, kidneys, and lungs all shut down after she delivered her 2 pound 9 ounce pre-mature baby. She was on life support and subsequently hospitalized for 80 days. Her condition was grave and there were many times Doctors told us to prepare for her death. She was a very ill young lady.”

The Boeing manager continued, “But my daughter defied all odds and survived! She was released to come home in late 2004, but she had a long road of recovery ahead of her. To help pass the time, my work colleague gave her a copy of your book, ‘PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.’ My daughter has never been a reader and, in fact, I don’t think she’s ever read an entire book in her life. But she read your book THREE times.”

“My daughter continues to have residual health issues as a result of her long hospitalization … but she remains strong and positive and has turned this experience into something that has transformed her life. I’m proud to say she’s turned her life totally around … is now a successful and focused college student … and a loving, wonderful mother to her healthy, happy 3 year old daughter. Your book was a huge part of her inspiration.”

I thank that manager for sharing such a personal story. It makes me feel good. But don’t miss the point. His story has a message for all of us, and that is … your attitude is bottom-line critical.

And then…

=> 2. Decide to have a good attitude.

One 92-year-old man illustrated that. After his wife of 70 years passed away, he was forced to move to a nursing home. Despite the fact he had to wait several hours in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when he was told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, the nursing assistant provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that had been hung on his window.

“I love it,” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mr. Benjamin, you haven’t seen the room; just wait.” urged the nursing assistant.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” he replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.”

Mr. Benjamin continued, “It’s a decision you need to make every morning when you wake up. You have a choice; you can spend the day recounting the difficulty you have with the parts of your body, your life, or your job that no longer work, or you can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.”

Martha Washington, the first First Lady, said the same thing. She said, “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by your disposition.”

=> 3. Screen your in-puts and stay-puts.

It may be impossible to go through an entire month, week, or even a day without being exposed to some negative news or thinking some negative thought. That’s life.

However, you can limit your exposure to negative in-puts. You can cut back on the time you spend with a newspaper or watching the nightly broadcast of horrors. You can choose to eat lunch with more positive coworkers if your present luncheon companions are constant gripers.

And you can choose which negative in-puts will become stay-puts. In other words, just because you have some negative thoughts doesn’t mean you have to dwell on them. You can choose whether or not those negative thoughts will stay-put or pass on. As entrepreneurship consultant Gladys Edmunds says, “Picture your thoughts as people passing by the front of your home. Just because they’re walking by doesn’t mean you have to invite them in.”

And finally…

=> 4. Take time to adjust your attitude when necessary.

Writing in “Super Wisdom,” Tom Russell suggests “The Three-Second Pause” to keep negative feelings from taking over your attitude. Whenever your inner warning system detects the inrush of negative thoughts and feelings, pause for three seconds. Relax. Relax your body and mind. Let go. This short pause allows the negative impulses to simply pass through you and fade away.

It’s a great corrective measure. Use it whenever you feel the pressures getting to you … or any time you see signs of anger, worry, or stress in your life. The three-second pause will separate you from the negativity and help you return to the relaxed, effective person you want to be.

You might also try “word therapy.” Say such words as “indomitable … unsinkable … undefeatable … and …victorious” to yourself every once in a while. Say it out loud if possible. It affirms your ability to stand up to the challenges you find at work or at home. And with each repeated word, you strengthen your own positive attitude.

Action:  Try word therapy. Speak the words “indomitable … unsinkable … undefeatable … and …victorious” 3 times a day for the next 30 days. Notice how much stronger your attitude becomes.