Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

~ Groucho Marx ~

Attitude And How You Handle It

October 2nd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 7 secs

Attitude changes everything.

Attitude. It’s one of those terms with a range of meanings. A child might be described as showing attitude. Yet, the nose of a plane could also be said to be at the correct attitude too. To reduce confusion, I describe attitude as “a settled way of thinking and feeling”. 

That old saying, “It’s not what happens to you but how you handle it that matters” relates directly to the power of attitude to shape our life. Bad things happen to people, resulting in dramatically different consequences. For some, these circumstances become the catalyst that destroys their life. But others somehow manage to survive those self-same events and even rise above them. How do they do it? Is it because they are “better” people, tougher, or just luckier?

The Viennese psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, survived the Holocaust, despite being interned in several of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps of WW2. Surrounded by death and hopelessness, Frankl resolved to survive by immersing himself in good reasons to live. He didn’t deny how desperate his situation was. Instead, his attitude was set on doing whatever he could to reconnect with everything beautiful that he had once known. Minute by minute, day by day, it was Frankl’s attitude alone that kept him going.

While life can be a bed of sweet smelling roses one day and a living nightmare the next, more often it’s something far more routine. So how do we find happiness in life when circumstances dictate so much?

Unlike the positive mental attitude movement that hypes up the importance of always being up, I subscribe to a different view. I believe a healthy attitude is one that accepts bad things happen, and doesn’t need to put a glossy spin on everything. Instead, a good attitude, to me, demonstrates a willingness to do your best, not just for yourself, but also for everyone.

We don’t need to shoot for the stratosphere with forced enthusiasm. To me at least, that kind of attitude seems a little too Teflon and even slightly repelling. A more human and touchable version reaches high but remembers its roots. Combining humility with can do attitude gets you a far more palatable approach. Perhaps because it’s down to earth.

So, a good attitude reflects balance, not selfish obsession. While, a fine attitude reveals compassion, character, and a belief in something more enduring than self-absorbed ego. The idea that “you can do anything if you only believe” needs to be tempered with the knowledge that you need to be doing something that you truly believe in. As achievement comes from purposed work, not open-ended longing, that’s far more important.

I believe our attitude weaves through our sense of personal dignity. That means the more we possess a settled way of thinking and feeling, the more healthily self-assured we become. It might not make you super wealthy, a member of high society, or a megastar. But it will help to make you to be a person of lasting character.


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