If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude
We all would like to be successful. Yet, many have thousands of reasons why they cannot succeed. In truth, all we need is one reason why we can. That one reason is attitude. Nothing is more important: not education, aptitude, health, wealth, or opportunity. Great men and women share this opinion. For example, Thomas Jefferson wrote Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
What is attitude? It is our disposition, perspective, viewpoint, or outlook. It is how we view the world. Frederick Langbridge expressed it well when he wrote, Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars. What do you see?
Its almost as if we were wearing sunglasses. The glasses we choose to wear determine what we see. Polarizing glasses, for instance, can remove reflections and give us a clearer view of reality. On the other hand, yellow or blue glasses distort the world, giving everything a yellowish or bluish appearance. We don’t experience reality directly, but filter it with our mind. That is, we don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are. We interpret our experiences, labeling them as good or bad. However, our interpretations do not affect reality; they just affect us.
Some people love the cold weather because its perfect for skiing. Others hate the cold. Obviously, our feelings have no influence on the temperature. However, our emotions have great impact on our lives, bringing us happiness or unhappiness. Some of us can discover opportunity in every difficulty; others find nothing but difficulty in every opportunity same circumstances, but different sunglasses, different attitudes. So, it is our attitude, not fate that determines our degree of success. This is not a new idea. The Greek Philosopher Epictetus wrote, more than 2,000 years ago, Its not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. Again, 500 years earlier, Buddha taught, We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
However, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that an enormous contribution to understanding attitude was made by the American psychologist, William James. He revealed that our attitude was optional. We have a choice. We can choose how we think. In his words, The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.
Not only did he teach us that we have a choice, but he taught us how to change our attitude. Its simple: just behave the way you want to become. Are you a pessimist that wishes to become an optimist? If so, pretend to be optimistic! For when you change your behavior, you change the world! You see, the world is a mirror. If you always act grumpy, you will find everyone you meet behaves in the same manner. But if you start pretending that you are cheerful and helpful, guess what? Everyone will respond in a like manner, and as they do so, your attitude will start changing. You will have a reason to be optimistic, for you will discover people are cheerful and kind if given the chance.
It is not the position, but the disposition
An acquaintance of mine, Mike, paid for college by taking a part-time job as a retail salesman. Unlike some coworkers, he didn’t whine about minimum wages. He never said, Why should I work hard when Im not being paid enough? On the contrary, he realized there are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes. He was an optimist. He believed that whatever his salary, he should always do his best. After graduation, he stayed on, but started working full-time. Others, who had been working at the store longer than Mike, couldn’t understand how he got a full-time job when they didn’t. They didn’t realize the difference the right attitude can make.
Mike continued to do his best. Before long, he was promoted to store Manager. He did so well in his new job that Head Office took him out of the store and put on the road as a sales rep. Once again, he excelled. So much so that he was moved to Head Office as the new National Sales Manager of one of the product lines. There’s nothing that can stop a positive attitude, so Mike went on to become the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for his company, a chain of more than 120 stores. Oh, by the way, some of the people he started working with in retail are still there, still complaining. What a difference a positive attitude can make. So, if at first you don’t succeed, try a little ardor!