” The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.”
“Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”
I first heard this famous quote by Charles (aka Chuck) Swindoll when I was in the 6 or 7th grade. I was in the student council ( I can’t even remember my exact position, but I think I was secretary or treasurer in that grade…) and they handed us all a print out of this quote to keep. At that age I did not realize its full impact. I knew attitude was important, but didn’t quite understand the power these words held back then. For some reason , I kept that piece of paper and I still have it today. Years later, I now understand its importance and this is something I try to live by.
I remembered that piece of paper handed to me years ago after I wrote the following words in my journal today:
“Attitude is everything. Emotions and feelings can get in the way of how we respond to people and the world around us in general, but we can foster good attitudes with practice. Unfortunately we aren’t in control of everything that happens to us in life or how others behave, but we ARE in charge of ourselves and how we respond. ” ~Me, from my journal
Sounds a lot like Chuck, no? It’s good to know all those years of gathering inspirational material and being my own life coach didn’t go to waste ;).
Today was one of those days where my attitude was challenged by how someone chose to respond to me. We have all had those days! Anger and attitude was pointed in my direction for no good reason. I realize that I hadn’t done anything to have deserved this behavior, and it was probably a mere projection of an issue the other person was having. The fact is that adults don’t always act like adults. Sometimes we don’t talk to each other in patient, even tempered, mature ways. Most of this has to do with internal emotions and feelings going off like loose cannons.
When people react to us this way, we have a choice. We can choose to :
- Play defense and get reactive. This choice can escalate things to a level where hurtful things can be said, yelling and arguing get worse, and sometimes relationships can even become broken as a result. Or…
- We can choose the peaceful route. There is a LOT of truth to that verse that says “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger”. Responding in anger , begets more anger. Responding in peace (or better yet- in love), helps to dissolve these situations. I am 100% convinced that my relationship with Matt (and other people I am close to) is a happy one because of these principals.
I can think of so many times in life where I have had hurtful or wrongful things said to me, and even some more drastic times where I was confronted or bullied face to face. I chose to take the high road and turn the other cheek the majority of the time. I think a lot of people see this as weakness. In fact, I used to think that sometimes too. The mindset behind this, is that if we get angry and start yelling back to defend ourselves, that we are not allowing ourselves to be doormats. We are not going to let the other person get away with their behavior. WE are going to show THEM!!
In reality, the eye for an eye/tooth for a tooth thing doesn’t make us stronger or tougher (or even solve most situations). Controlling our own attitudes and response does. I have learned over the years that I can honor myself and not put up with “stuff” I don’t deserve, but in healthy, mature ways. One wisdom I have learned here is that in choosing to turn the other cheek (so to speak), I am not just doing the other person a favor. Sometimes we think to ourselves, “They are not talking to me nicely, so they don’t deserve to be spoken to nicely either.” It’s this need for life to be fair, and for justice to be served.
However, in “turning the other cheek” I am doing myself a favor. I won’t have to look back later on my own angry attitude and harsh words with regret. There is a freedom in that. That is one of the rewards in being responsible for my own attitude, regardless of what others are doing or saying.
This concept carries over in to all areas of our lives.
It’s in how we chose to act when we are given tough lots in life, or when we are ill, or when things don’t go our way. It is in how we chose to deal with failures, losses, and hurts. One thing that sets happy people apart from those who are not is Attitude. Happiness is not 100% contingent on outward circumstance (it’s only 10% contingent according to Chuck ) or else we would not be inspired by the people out there who are living full lives after being struck with cancer, recovering from abuse, being born handicapped, or maybe becoming handicapped later in life.
If there is a “Secret” to happiness out there…Attitude is the secret.
Are you feelin’ it guys? Are you ready to live inspired along with me?
This living inspired and having good attitudes stuff is not always easy. So no worries if you are reading this and are having a cranky day, or are feeling like you aren’t up to the challenge. There is no such thing as perfect. Be compassionate with yourself if you have a reactive day (heaven knows I have emotional days where I react!). We are human after all! The good thing is that we never run out of chances to start over and choose a better attitude. You are never too old, too weak, or too anything to start fresh :).
Cheers to choosing the attitudes that serve us best in life! Sending positive vibes your way, Rebekah