Nothing is more important than your attitude. Did I say “nothing?” I’m sorry, I meant to say, “Absolutely nothing is more important than your attitude!” Attitude supersedes every other aspect of your life in determining your contentment and success. Nothing is more important. Not your talent, your education, or your upbringing. Not your attire, or social network, or position. Not your work ethic, or looks, or I.Q. Not your personality or motivation. Not wealth or fame. Not even your genes can compensate sufficiently to overcome a negative attitude.
Successful and happy people are almost always characterized by their upbeat, positive outlook on life. For some of us, this happy and optimistic disposition comes naturally; but for most of us it must be deliberately cultivated, nurtured, and rigorously maintained. A sour attitude will cast a cloud over all you do, magnifying the pain of life’s challenges and dampening the joys of its blessings. In the same way, a joyful outlook will make every good thing you experience even better, and diminish your suffering in even the darkest of times.
“You have control over three things: What you think, what you say, and how you behave. To make a change if you life, you must recognize these gifts are the most powerful tools you possess in shaping the form of your life.” Sonya Friedman
While it is true that you have the privilege of choosing how the circumstances around you affect your attitude, it is equally true that you have no power whatsoever to determine the effect your attitude has on your circumstances. Your attitude is always at work, continually affecting the world around you for good or ill, with or without your conscious awareness or participation. Around the clock, every day of your life, a good attitude is slowly making your life better. Similarly, a negative disposition and outlook are constantly at work exerting a downward pull on everything you do and experience. There is nothing mystical or paranormal about this process; quite the contrary, you should expect nothing other than this very natural demonstration of the law of cause and effect.
My wife and I eat out a lot as it is only the two of us. Tipping usually becomes a topic of conversation when we go. I always start out at 15%. It is the job of the wait staff to either keep the 15%, or go up or down from there. Depending on how they treat us and their attitude for the evening. There was one evening I could remember. We were waiting for the staff to arrive after being seated. We were asked for our drink order and it seems most of the time, they never ask about an appetizer. They head off to fetch the drinks and upon return ask for the order. I didn’t have time to place the appetizer order as she took off too quickly. We then placed our appetizer order and our meal order which I don’t really like to do and I will explain why. A few minutes later, our appetizer comes, and then about 3 minutes later than that, our meal order comes. Pretty fast service from the kitchen. The problem is we hadn’t finished our appetizer and now our meal is on the table as well. All of the food was delivered by someone other than our waitress. We didn’t see her again until almost the end of our meal. I was out of drink and could have used more a long time ago. Once she finally came to the table, she asked if everything was ok, I said No, I have been waiting for a glass refill for quite some time. She took my glass to the back and came back with a nice full glass. The problem was that it was filled with Sweet Tea. Yes, I know I live in the south, the home of Sweet Tea, but being diabetic slows down the ability to choose. So I raised her attention and asked for un-sweet tea. In a huff and a puff, she moaned and groaned all the way to the back and returned to the table. Once we were done, I contemplated the tip. It surely wasn’t going up. I ended about 9% taking into account all the errors and attitude. She still provided a service lousy as it may have been and she still needed to get paid. I figure she would now go home and discuss with someone how she has a bad attitude because her customers are lousy tippers. She obviously had it completely backwards. Her customers are lousy tippers because she has a terrible attitude.
While you cannot always choose what happens to you and around you, you can always choose the way you interpret those circumstances. You can carefully select the vantage point from which you view them. Every problem is multifaceted, but it is human nature to focus on the facet that is the darkest and most troublesome. This is natural, because it is the darkest facet that poses the most urgent need, the most immediate threat. But a quick rotation of the problem to view it from another angle suddenly turns it into something that is not altogether bad, and perhaps even beneficial. A gem that is dirty on one surface may be sparkling and brilliant on another. When a challenge is weighing heavily on your mind and spirit, a good exercise is to consciously choose to view the problem in a new light or from a new angle. You might even list the ways in which the current challenge might be of benefit to you. Other people can often be a great help in this regard.
Others can often offer a fresh perspective of your problems because they are already “sitting” in a different location. Your problem is not a direct threat to them (after all, it’s your problem they’re looking at), so their judgment is not clouded by the same intense emotions or the sense of urgency you may have. In a football game, it is quite common to see a quarterback walk off the field and immediately pick up a telephone. Why? To whom is he speaking? He is usually talking with an assistant coach who is up in the press box, watching the game from above. It is this assistant coach, seeing the game from a completely different vantage point, who can offer insight that the player on the field cannot possibly see. Where the quarterback on the field—who is under intense pressure from a furious pass rush—sees an insurmountable problem, the coach in the press box might see a golden opportunity waiting to be seized. The only difference is perspective. The great challenge for all of us is to take a few minutes to walk to the “press box of life,” become our own coach, and take a long look at our situation from a fresh vantage point.
Perhaps the most important question of life is this: “Is the glass half empty or half full?” The answer is a simple one: it’s up to you. The way you answer this question will determine how happy or unhappy you will become. Attitude IS life’s great equalizer.