- Driving Improvement Lessons
- Here are 10 strategies from my attitude tool kit to improve your attitude:
- 1. Self-Coaching Through Affirmations
- 2. Self-Motivation Through Discovering Your Motives
- 3. The Power of Visualization
- 4. Attitude Talk for Positive Internal Dialogue
- 5. The Power of Words—WOW
- 6. The Power in a Positive Greeting
- 7. Enthusiasm: Vital Tool for Staying Motivated
- 8. Connecting to Your Spiritual Empowerment
- 9. Lighten Up Your Life with Humor
- 10. Exercising Will Help Keep You Motivated
- The Four Attitudes of Happiness
- And More Importantly…What To Do About It!
- Reason Number 2: Unending Hurriedness
- Reason Number 3: Unrealistic Expectations
- Reason Number 4: Unresolved Conflict
- Reason Number 5: Upsetting Circumstances
- How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One
- 1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- 2. Mental Health Maintenance Plan
- 3. Screen Yourself for a Mental Health Issue
- 4. There’s an APP for That
- 5. Find a Therapist
- 6. Stop the Stigma
- 7. Live to Give
- 8. Embrace the Imperfect Process
- Final Thoughts
- More on Mental Health
- Having a Bad Attitude Could Be Bad for Your Health
- How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You
- 1. Harness the Incredible Power of Redirection
- 2. Amp up Your Positive Self-Talk
- 3. Be a Change Agent, Not a Victim
- 4. Dream Huge — but Set Realistic Expectations
- 5. Transform Negative Thoughts into Ultimate Questions
- 6. Laugh!
- 7. Embrace Your Emotions and Release Them Confidently
- 8. Create, Move, Believe, Contemplate Great Things
- 9. Leave with the Four Agreements — but Agree to Come Back Again and Again
- 7 Negative Attitudes People Have Towards Success
- 1. Over-Confidence
- 2. Greed
- 3. Impatience
- 4. Stubbornness
- 5. Laziness
- 6. Disbelief
- 7. Ignorance
- 4 Simple Ways to Overcome a Negative Attitude
Driving Improvement Lessons
CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES
Safe driving involves both mental and physical exercise. I believe if we are to be safe on our highways, we need to look at both. First let us look at mental exercise. Attitude is the way we look at a situation and how it affects us.
What effect did getting a ticket have on you? Are you angry? If you are, at whom? Perhaps you are even seeking to place the blame on someone else or trying to make some excuse for your actions. If you think your receiving a ticket was unjust or unfair, there is a court of law that will make that decision. However, you have chosen this driver improvement course as a way to resolve this action. Now assume your place of responsibility and go forward. Can we say you have given yourself a lemon? Now what are you going to do about it? Are you going to be sour, or are you going to make lemonade? What do you think is the difference between Helen Keller and someone you might know who is deaf and blind? My answer is attitude. Please understand that life is exciting and fun, but not always fair. Who promised you a rose garden? I think if you can rise above the little things in life, and a traffic ticket is definitely a little thing, then you can rise above bigger things. Obeying the law is the right and fair thing to do. Treating others the way you want to be treated. Is that too much to ask? Would you get upset if the team playing your favorite team was playing unfairly and was not abiding by the rules? Seeing what we can get away with may seem like the American way today, but I am sure the people who died on Florida’s roadways last year would not think so. I think if nothing else than just human decency, would this not motivate us to do what is right and fair. Let us be fair to ourselves, our family, and fellow travelers on our highway. Do you expect others to obey the law? Of course you do. Why then should another not expect the same of us?
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% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. Ultimately, we are in charge of our attitudes.3
The purpose of this exercise is to determine the responsibility of Mr. Driver. Did you notice that the heading on this page is spelled incorrectly? Did you notice the extra “i”? This was done intentionally to prove a point. The point is that most of us have taken the “I” out of responsibility. This is common in today’s culture. When the objective is to find the closest person or circumstances to pass the buck to so we can be excused. We do it every day. Taking the “I” out of responsibility in our driving can lead to serious problems, such as crashes that result in serious injury or death. We need to realize that our responsibility, along with courtesy and common sense, has been dismissed for the sake of convenience. The best way to prevent a problem is to correct an attitude. And this is, after all, the Lowest Price Traffic School, right?
Let us describe the situation for you. Any-town Elementary School is on the west side of a two-lane road with 12 foot lanes separated by a broken yellow line. The school, complete with parking lot, is surrounded by an open field on its side of the road, and woods on the opposite side. 1,000 feet south of the school on the other side of the road is a sign with a blinking light. The sign indicates that the area in question is a school zone with a speed limit of 20 miles per hour when the light is blinking. Two girls are walking south, away from the school, on the sidewalk on the west side of the road. A boy is running after them. The distance from the sidewalk to the school is 50 feet. Across from the school, a blue car is parked on the shoulder of the road, directly in front of a “No Parking” sign. A red car is stopped in the northbound lane, with skid marks leading up to the car. The skid marks indicate that the car was moving at 20 mph when the driver slammed on the brakes. A girl’s body is lying in front of the red car (Not shown on the diagram).
100% 75% 50% 25% 0%
Mrs. Mother’s Statement
“This happened on Mary’s 11th birthday. We had planned a birthday party at the local water park. We live about 18 miles from the school. It takes about an hour and a half for Mary to get home by riding the school bus. If she had to ride the bus, then we would have to travel about 45 minutes to get back to the water park. We could save a lot of fun time if I just picked her up from school. That morning, I took Mary to the school and parked across the street in front of the school. The parking lot is a very dangerous place, since all of the vehicles must use it, like the buses, teachers, parents, and the like. Besides, if I stopped out front I could watch her go into the school. As I dropped Mary off I gave her a note for her teacher telling her about our plans, and to call me if there was a problem. As Mary got out of the car, I told her not to run and to look both ways before she crossed the street. She did look both ways and she did not run. I saw her go into the school. Not hearing from the teacher all day, I assumed I could pick her up as planned. I arrived at the school around 2:35 P.M. after stopping to get ice for the party. As I stopped, I saw Mary standing just outside of the door of the school. We waved and she started walking toward the car. After watching her for a few seconds, I looked to see if there was any traffic coming. There was a car heading in our direction, but it did not look like it was going very fast. I watched it for a few seconds and then turned back to Mary. She was running by that time, so I again glanced at the car. It was much closer now. Several things ran through my mind. I decided in a moment to blow the horn, but before I could, I heard the squealing of tires, and a thud. I looked; saw the car now stopped, and Mary, lifeless on the pavement.
Mr. Driver’s statement
I am familiar with the school zone, as I go through the area several times a week on my way home. I know what time school lets out and when there are children on the road. Today, I got off work early and was on my way home since it was a nice day. I decided to mow the yard. As I came to the school zone I slowed to the 20 mph limit. There were some children on the sidewalk coming toward me, and I could see a blue car on the east side of the road in front of the “No Parking” sign. I looked over at a boy running toward a couple of girls walking down the sidewalk. As I looked to the road again, I saw a little girl run out ahead of me. I slammed on the brakes, but could not stop in time. Everything in my car is in good working order and I was feeling fine up until the crash.
In your opinion, by expressing in percentage:
WHAT IS THE DRIVER’S RESPONSIBILITY?
WHAT IS THE MOTHER’S RESPONSIBILITY?
WHAT IS THE CHILD’S REPONSIBILITY?
Mother’s Responsibility – 100%
- The Mother was illegally parked both in the morning and in the afternoon. Both times, she should have been in the parking lot.
- The Mother arrived at the school after classes had been dismissed. Not only did this take away the Mother’s opportunity to cross the road with her child, but it increased the likelihood of the child becoming impatient and running instead of walking.
- The Mother was aware of the vehicle while it was still at a distance, and failed to warn the child of it until it was too late.
Child’s Responsibility – 100%
- The child should have followed her mother’s instructions to walk and not run.
- The child should have been aware of the approaching vehicle.
Driver’s Responsibility – 100%
- Seeing the first two girls should have slowed the driver down. Always plan for children to do the unexpected.
- Seeing the running boy should have put the driver on full alert. The boy may have run into the street himself or caused the girls to run into the street.
- Seeing that the children were on the sidewalk, he should have deduced that school was out. Also, seeing an improperly parked car, he should have prepared himself for the eventuality that a child could run to or from the car or that the car could pull out in front of him.
How Much Are We Responsible? 100%?
- In most crashes with two or more drivers, we both contribute. It is possible that they did not contribute equal amounts, but they are both responsible. One or both may or may not have violated the law. Contributing to a crash and violating the law may be two different things.
- Just because one party does an unsafe act does not mean we are not responsible for our own actions in an attempt to avoid the collision.
- We are responsible to have our car under control at all times.
- If someone runs a red light in front of us, we are not justified to strike them.
- In a way, we are our brothers’ keepers.
Responsibility is not a pie that can be sliced up, a portion for each. Responsibility is like air, there’s more than enough for each of the characters – the mother, the daughter, and the driver all could have prevented this tragedy from occurring regardless of the behavior of the other characters.
F.S. 316.183 (1) states that “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance or object on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.”
As we drive, we must be able to identify possible problems ahead of us. The law calls for us to drive having regard for the actual and potential hazards in existence.
What were some of the potential hazards in the school demonstration?
- School Zone – A reduction in the lawful speed limit.
- Children walking on the sidewalk.
- A child running on the sidewalk.
- A car parked in the “No Parking Zone”.
- A person sitting in a parked car.
- A parking lot, with vehicles entering and exiting.
- Possibility of unseen events – a child petting a dog in front of a parked car.
The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection. When approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians, other traffic, or by reason of weather or other roadway conditions. The speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
Speeding may not be a direct cause of a lot of crashes, but it does take its share. Why do we put so much emphasis on speed? Because when speed is involved, everything is more serious. Ask yourself, “Why do I speed?” Some typical answers are: late for work, late getting home, late for an appointment or no reason at all! We are trying to run the clock back. Before we speed, maybe we should ask ourselves, “What will we gain by speeding?” Are we trying to save time? Let’s take a look at that for a minute. You have a twenty-mile trip to make. If you go the speed limit, which is 55 miles per hour, it will take you approximately 21 minutes and 48 seconds. However, you are late, so you are going to travel at 75 miles per hour, so that will only take you approximately 15 minutes and 59 seconds. That is a saving of 5 minutes and 49 seconds. You are stopped by a highway patrolman and it takes him 10 minutes to write the ticket. Time taken to sign up for class, which even by the phone takes 5 minutes. Time taken to complete this course (4 hours). What happens if another vehicle stops in front of you and you are going too fast to stop or something happens to your car? You really are going to be late and who knows, the death rate in Florida may go up one more number. We didn’t even mention the money you spent on your citation; paying for this course or the money you lost by not showing up at work.
I remember when my wife and I were going to the west-coast. She was asleep (or at least, that’s what I thought) when we were west of Okeechobee on State Road 70. I let my speed get up above 60 miles an hour, when, all of a sudden, she hit me with a pillow. I said, “What are you doing?” and she replied, “Slow down! I don’t want to give any of my money to Okeechobee County. I said “What do you mean?” She replied “I may want another pair of shoes.” Now my wife already has seven pairs of shoes. I was asking myself, “What in the world does she want with another pair of shoes?” What she was telling me was that when we pay a traffic fine, we have bought something that we cannot wear or eat. I guess that really is a waste of money. If you had the money back that you spent for this ticket, what would you do with it?
Staying out of dangerous situations is a full time job. The time that you spend traveling on our highways is not the time to be talking on the phone, combing your hair, shaving, or even having breakfast. Have you ever had a cup of coffee in one hand, sausage biscuit in the other and were driving with only your leg? That is a prime example of doing too much, putting yourself and others at risk.
One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you.
Related: It Takes a Positive Attitude to Achieve Positive Results
I generally start my workshops and seminars by asking a fundamental question: What attitude did you bring into this meeting? Often, this brings puzzled looks. In truth, people generally don’t have a high level of attitude awareness. They’ll know if they are hungry or if their feet hurt, but they usually don’t have a good handle on their attitude. That is a mistake because attitude is everything. It governs the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you.
We all have a choice. We can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and self-motivation, or we can choose one of self-defeat and self-pity. It’s a power we all have. Each of us encounters hard times, hurt feelings, heartache, and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you choose to respond.
Your mind is a computer that can be programmed. You can choose whether the software installed is productive or unproductive. Your inner dialogue is the software that programs your attitude, which determines how you present yourself to the world around you. You have control over the programming. Whatever you put into it is reflected in what comes out.
Related: Why It’s All About Attitude
Many of us have behavior patterns today that were programmed into our brains at a very tender age. The information that was recorded by our brains could have been completely inaccurate or cruel. The sad reality of life is that we will continue to hear negative information, but we don’t have to program it into our brains.
The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your selfcritic. It can work for or against you, depending on the messages you allow. It can be optimistic or pessimistic. It can wear you down or cheer you on. You control the sender and the receiver, but only if you consciously take responsibility for and control over your inner conversation.
Habitual bad attitudes are often the product of past experiences and events. Common causes include low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, anger and an inability to handle change. It takes serious work to examine the roots of a harmful attitude, but the rewards of ridding ourselves of this heavy baggage can last a lifetime.
Here are 10 strategies from my attitude tool kit to improve your attitude:
1. Self-Coaching Through Affirmations
Affirmations repeated several times each day, every day, serve to reprogram your subconscious with positive thinking. An affirmation is made up of words charged with power, conviction and faith. You send a positive response to your subconscious, which accepts whatever you tell it. When done properly, this triggers positive feelings that, in turn, drive action.
2. Self-Motivation Through Discovering Your Motives
Discover what motivates you—what incites you to take action to change your life. Basic motives include love, self-preservation, anger, financial gain and fear. Self-motivation requires enthusiasm, a positive outlook, a positive physiology (walk faster, smile, sit up), and a belief in yourself and your God-given potential.
3. The Power of Visualization
Studies of the psychology of peak performance have found that most great athletes, surgeons, engineers and artists use affirmations and visualizations either consciously or subconsciously to enhance and focus their skills. Nelson Mandela has written extensively on how visualization helped him maintain a positive attitude while being imprisoned for 27 years. “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free. I fantasized about what I would like to do,” he wrote in his autobiography. Visualization works well to improve attitude.
4. Attitude Talk for Positive Internal Dialogue
Attitude talk is a way to override your past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with a conscious, positive internal voice that helps you face new directions. Your internal conversation—that little voice you listen to all day long—acts like a seed in that it programs your brain and affects your behavior. Take a closer look at what you are saying to yourself.
Related: Attitude Adjustment 101: Say It Out Loud with Me…
5. The Power of Words—WOW
Once released to the universe, our words cannot be taken back. Learn the concept of WOW—watch our words. What we speak reflects what is already in our hearts based upon all the things we have come to believe about ourselves. If we find ourselves speaking judgmental and disparaging things about our circumstances or those around us, we know the condition of our hearts needs to change. You can create a direct path to success by what you say.
6. The Power in a Positive Greeting
When people ask me how I am doing, I say, “Super-fantastic.” Most people enjoy working and living with others who try to live life for what it is—a beautiful gift.
7. Enthusiasm: Vital Tool for Staying Motivated
Enthusiasm is to attitude what breathing is to life. Enthusiasm enables you to apply your gifts more effectively. It’s the burning desire that communicates commitment, determination and spirit. Enthusiasm means putting yourself in motion. It’s an internal spirit that speaks through your actions from your commitment and your belief in what you are doing. It is one of the most empowering and attractive characteristics you can have.
8. Connecting to Your Spiritual Empowerment
The ultimate level of human need extends into the spiritual realm. Just as we feed our bodies in response to our primary need to survive physically, we need to feed our spirit because we are spiritual beings. Many people find powerful and positive motivation in their faith. I happen to be one of them.
9. Lighten Up Your Life with Humor
Humor is a powerful motivator. The more humor and laughter in your life, the less stress you’ll have, which means more positive energy to help you put your attitude into action. There are also health benefits to lightening up.
10. Exercising Will Help Keep You Motivated
One of the best ways to move to a more positive and motivated frame of mind is to exercise. A regular exercise routine can provide relatively quick positive feedback in the form of weight loss, muscle development and a sense of doing something positive for yourself.
Seek your personal and professional success by using the tools in this attitude tool kit. It is no secret that life seems to reward us most when we approach the world with a positive attitude.
Related: 5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mindset in 20 Minutes
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2009 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.
The Four Attitudes of Happiness
Happiness occurs more easily for those with the right attitude
Interested in these topics? Go here for my new (and free) Coursera course on happiness
We often hear the phrase, “Happiness is an attitude.” What exactly does it mean? How can happiness be both an emotional end-state (as we know it to be) and an attitude–which is more like an opinion or judgment–at the same time?
We know that when we’re happy, we look at the world differently, through rose tinted glasses as it were. We are more generous, expansive, and gregarious, and less prone to making negative judgments. So, being in a happy state leads to a certain way of looking at things, a certain attitude, if you will. Is that what people mean when they say happiness is an attitude-that being happy leads to a certain way of looking at things? If so, the statement isn’t useful, since it doesn’t tell us how to be happy. It merely sheds light on how we are when we are happy.
I prefer the following alternative interpretation of the phrase: Happiness comes more easily to those who have adopted a certain way of looking at things. In this view, attitude precedes-and determines-the quality of our emotional state.
At one level, it should be easy to understand how our attitudes can shape our emotions. Findings show that every time we experience an emotion-be it anger, anxiety, sadness, happiness, joy, love, or pride-it is always preceded by a set of thoughts that are unique to that emotion. For example, you may have been angry at your boss because you didn’t get a promotion that you felt you deserved. The anger at your boss, in this case, is a response to the following type of thought: “My boss is preventing me from achieving a desired goal.” Likewise, you may have felt anxious during a taxi ride to the airport because you weren’t sure if you would make it to your flight on time. In this case, the anxiety was preceded by thoughts pertaining to uncertainty about catching your flight.
If emotions are always preceded by thoughts that are idiosyncratic to the emotion in question, it follows that we can change the emotion by changing the thoughts. Theoretically speaking, we could experience an entirely different emotion by merely re-interpreting a situation. For instance, the anger you feel at your boss for denying you a promotion can turn into gratitude if you focused, instead, on the fact that he hasn’t fired you.
Sounds simple, right? Anytime you experience a negative emotion, all you need to do is to come up with a more positive re-interpretation of the event that induced the negative emotion and voila, you will start feeling positive!
It’s simple in concept but difficult in practice. Further, you may wonder whether such positively biased re-interpretations are even desirable. You could argue that such positive reinterpretations could lead you to become a delusional personality-someone who doesn’t see reality as it is.
I will revisit this point later. For now, let’s focus on how one could go about re-interpreting outcomes and events to more frequently experience happiness.
There are four attitudes that are useful, all of which share the common underlying feature of directing thoughts toward a more favorable perspective. The first is adopting a more favorable perspective in interpreting the actions of other people.
Say you’re in a taxicab and the driver appears to be taking a longer-than-normal route to your destination. An obvious interpretation is that the driver is trying to take advantage of you: he is trying to extract a higher fare from you. Alternative interpretations are also possible, including: (1) this is the only route he knows, (2) there is construction going on in the shorter route, (3) the route you know, although shorter in terms of distance, is longer in terms of time, etc.
Let’s examine how your interactions with the driver would differ if you were to entertain these alternative interpretations of his behavior. If you adopted the obvious negative perspective-namely, that the driver is out to cheat you-you would naturally be angry. As a result, you would probably not chat with him during the drive and further, you would probably not tip him. If, instead, you entertained the first alternative possibility (that he is unaware of the shorter route), you would probably say, “I think I know a shorter route” and wait for his response. If you entertained the second alternative possibility, you may say, “Is there construction going on in the other (shorter) route?” and again, wait to for his response. The interaction would undoubtedly be more pleasant if you were to adopt a more charitable interpretation of his behavior. As a result, even if the driver were actually cheating you, you would be more likely to get happiness-enhancing favors from him (e.g., he would perhaps assist you with your bags when you arrive at your destination, or switch to a radio station of your choice, etc.).
If your objective is to more regularly experience happiness, it follows that you would be better off by entertaining more positive interpretations of others’ behaviors first, and only turn to the negative interpretations after ruling out the positive possibilities. Of course, you could only do this if the situation is relatively ambiguous and lends itself to multiple interpretations. (For example, there are few alternative positive interpretations when being mugged.) However, research shows that even in ambiguous situations-wherein people could legitimately entertain positive interpretations-, most people’s natural inclination is to turn to negative interpretations first. Recall the last time you could not find your wallet after the cleaning lady had come in? Most people in this situation first entertain the thought that the cleaning lady stole the wallet. This leads to a perfunctory search for the wallet which, in turn, makes it less likely that the wallet will be found, thus enhancing faith in the negative interpretation-a vicious cycle.
The second attitude involves adopting a more favorable interpretation in forecasting the impact of a present outcome on future outcomes.
Here’s a fact: We’re essentially incapable of figuring out the long-term consequences of a particular outcome, such as missing a flight, failing to get a particular job, and so on. One reason for this is that we are incapable of assessing the relevance of particular outcomes for important long-term goals. Take the taxicab example again. Say, for instance, that you were able to rule out all alternative explanations for the driver’s behavior and are thus forced to conclude that he took the longer route to extract a higher fare from you. Is this necessarily such a bad outcome (providing the extra money you paid isn’t large)? Isn’t it possible that some positive outcomes came about because of the driver’s behavior? Perhaps the longer route was more picturesque. Or, maybe the longer route gave you the opportunity to have a long and meaningful conversation with the driver. Or perhaps you would not have run into that other guest who checked in with you-and with whom you have now made dinner plans-had you arrived earlier.
The point is, almost always, an outcome that we initially judge as negative triggers a set of positive outcomes that could only have occurred because of the “negative” outcome. Thus, it is almost always possible to retrospectively judge a negative outcome as a blessing in disguise, but only if we choose to adopt this attitude. (Needless to say, I am leaving out extremely negative events- like the death of a child, or killing someone in an accident-here.)
Put differently, given the inherent randomness in life, it would appear perfectly justifiable to entertain the possibility that what you initially judged as a negative event could, in fact, be a good thing for you in the future. But most of us don’t take such a perspective; instead, we are usually fully convinced about how we feel about outcomes. And by being so sure about our negativity, we invite more negativity into our lives. How so? Because the way others respond to us depends on how we interact with them; if we are negative when we interact with others, they are more likely to be negative towards us as well. Thus, for instance, anger at the taxicab driver makes you more prone to being irritable with the check-in clerk at the hotel, which, in turn, makes it more likely that you will get a room with a bad view, and so on. Looked at in this light, taking a positive view on what initially appears to be a negative event is much more likely to produce more positive outcomes-that is, a positive outlook literally changes the objective outcomes we experience. Thus, from the perspective of a person interested in maximizing happiness, it’s a no-brainer to take the positive view.
You may yet remain unconvinced. You may claim that adoption of the positive view doesn’t punish those who need to be punished. For instance, you may feel that you are responsible for punishing the taxi driver so that he doesn’t cheat other passengers.
Although it is possible to make this type of argument to justify a negative response towards others, note that it is unclear whether your anger toward people makes them less or more likely to cheat in the future. Research has shown that anger is contagious, and that when people are angry, their natural inclination is to behave in an antisocial manner. Thus, there is no guarantee that your anger towards the taxi driver will make him less prone to cheating in the future. Indeed, it is even possible that you are more likely to achieve your goal by being nice to him; findings in positive psychology show that people experience an emotion called elevation when others are kind to them, and this feeling leads to pro-social behaviors.
If you are still unconvinced and believe that nothing short of exhibiting anger at the driver will teach him a lesson, here’s a win-win strategy: go ahead and get angry at the driver and give him a zero tip, but also go ahead and enjoy the positive outcomes (e.g., the good views) along the way. Why not? If your anger towards the taxi driver is for strategic reasons (to prevent him from teaching others), why let him dampen your spirits?
The third attitude is a variant of the first two, but rather than focusing on other people or on external events, it focuses on internalized assumptions about what leads to happiness.
If you ask people what it is that they need to get in order to be happy, they would find it relatively easy to come up with a rather long list, including: (1) money, (2) love/sex, (3) eating out at fabulous restaurants, (4) fame, (5) a position of power and importance, and so on.
But how accurate are our intuitions about what will make us happy? One way to find out is to give people whatever they think they need to be happy, and then see if they in fact are happier. Although such an experiment has not been conducted, we can arrive at some reliable conclusions about whether people’s theories about the determinants of happiness are accurate. And it turns out that they are not.
For instance, people think that money will make them happier than it actually does. Money, although positively correlated with happiness, is only weakly so. As some recent findings by Hsee, Kahneman and others show, those with more money are a little more happy mainly because of the freedom that the money gives them to procure the things they need, and to do the things (e.g., pursue a hobby) they want to. In other words, it’s not the money per se, but the doors that it opens, that brings happiness. Another reason why money brings happiness is because we infer our capabilities by looking at our paychecks; in other words, those who have more money feel better about themselves (e.g., have higher self-respect) and this leads to greater happiness. If so, a person with less money could be just as happy by simply figuring out how to respect himself more internally-an issue I will touch upon shortly.
It’s almost a no-brainer that material goods, possessions, fame and power do not bring lasting happiness; if anything, they can be said to cause greater unhappiness by setting ever higher aspiration levels-a phenomenon known as the hedonic treadmill effect. For example, a person with a little fame seeks to become more famous, and achieving the desired level of fame does make him happy, but only temporarily. Once he gets used to his new level of fame, he desires to be even more famous, and so on. The hedonic treadmill effect is true for the other determinants of happiness such as sex, possessions, and power as well.
Nevertheless, these determinants consistently figure in people’s requirements for a happy life. Indeed, so blind is people’s faith in their ability to bring happiness that, some of my own research findings show that, given a choice between two jobs: one that will bring greater happiness but won’t pay as much and another that will be a constant source of stress but pays a lot, most experimental participants have little hesitation in choosing the latter. It is as if in the pursuit of happiness, people have lost sight of what they are ultimately after (which is happiness) and focus, instead, on the things that they have always presumed will bring them happiness. What is particularly fascinating is that people never question their presumptions about what brings them happiness even if their presumptions are constantly disproved!
The third attitude to achieve happiness thus involves constantly questioning your theories about what you need in order to be happy. It also involves being courageous enough to jettison those assumptions that do not appear, on closer examination, to be true.
One of the first things we need to do is to explicitly articulate to ourselves that happiness is our ultimate goal. The goal of happiness should be accorded precedence over everything else: money, possessions, fame, and respect of others. In short, there are no sacred cows here: if we find that the things we thought would bring happiness-such as a bigger house or car, actually do not bring us happiness, whereas other things that we hadn’t considered such as pursuing a hobby or visiting old friends do bring us happiness-then we must revise our views accordingly. Diligent subscription to such an attitude will lead to greater clarity about what truly brings happiness.
Subscription to the three attitudes described thus far will eventually lead to the adoption of a fourth attitude: enhanced confidence in your own ability to deal with anything that life throws at you.
In my opinion, this is the single biggest determinant of happiness. Why? For two reasons.
First, being confident about facing life’s challenges generates positive emotions because the confidence will make you feel more hopeful about the future, and will thus enable you to look forward to life. And second, being confident enhances the chances of making positive events happen in your life. This is not because of magic, but because of what is known as the hypothesis confirmation bias. The hypothesis confirmation bias refers to the following phenomenon: if you believe that a certain outcome will unfold (e.g., if you believe that you will get a job or that you will fail an exam), that outcome has a higher chance of occurring. In medical circles, this is called the placebo effect. The hypothesis confirmation bias has been established so consistently and across such a wide variety of contexts that I will not dwell on it any more, except to emphasize that if you fully entertain alternative-and more positive-interpretations of others’ behaviors and outcomes, your future will have a greater number of objective more positive outcomes. This is guaranteed, statistically speaking.
It is important to note that the analysis I have provided herein is entirely scientific. I have provided logical-and in many cases, empirically validated-reasons for why adoption of the Four Attitudes leads to happiness.
However, a potentially legitimate concern remains to be addressed: Will the adoption of these attitudes lead to becoming delusional? Let’s say, for instance, that you recently goofed up a presentation because of which you lost an important business client. Shouldn’t you recognize that you failed at the presentation rather than adopting a positive interpretation of it (such as, for example, feeling happy that the client didn’t thrown rotten eggs at you)? Wouldn’t the adoption of a positive outlook in this instance make you delusional and prevent you from learning from your mistakes?
Not really. First-and this is important to recognize-adopting the Four Attitudes is not the same as ignoring reality. In the context of interpreting other people’s actions, we would be ignoring reality if we always attributed only positive motives to others’ actions even when all the evidence were to the contrary. In the context of judging outcomes, we would be ignoring the reality if we failed to acknowledge the downstream negative consequences. I am not recommending ignoring reality; rather, I am advocating developing the attitude of focusing on the plausible positive possibilities.
It is important to note, from the perspective of learning from past outcomes, that it is adopting a positive outlook that permits you to learn-by allowing you to move on and not ruminate on the past. Recall the last time you made a fool of yourself in a presentation or suffered some such ignominy. Perhaps the shame and embarrassment enhanced your resolve to take steps to avoid similar outcomes in the future, but note that your learnings did not come from the negativity; in fact, you could only learn when you moved past the negativity. Adopting a positive attitude, as studies on resilience have shown, helps you move past negative outcomes more quickly, and thus, accelerate the speed at which you learn. A person who dwells on the past isn’t capable of learning.
Second, as Jonathan Haidt and some others have argued, it is those with a positive outlook who are more aligned with reality than those with a negative outlook. How so? Because, in general, people are more negative than they should be; that is, people have a tendency to be overly skeptical-a phenomenon referred to as negativity dominance. So, far from being delusional, you would actually be more realistic if you were more positive.
Third, for reasons already discussed, people with a positive outlook will attract more positive outcomes in their lives. As such, even if others see you as being a little delusional, they will simultaneously recognize that you are generally good at achieving your goals. In other words, they will recognize and appreciate your optimism and positivity, and will make note of your resilience. As such, you will come to be known as someone who can take on challenging assignments and complete them. Ask any boss, and he will tell you that he would much rather have someone who is enthusiastic and positive than someone who is pessimistic. It is thus no surprise that it is the happy people who are the more successful at work; on average, the most happy workers command a wage difference of over 20% over their least happy counterparts.
We can now return to the original question: “Is happiness an attitude?”
The answer clearly appears to be “No!,” but we can say that “Happiness results from the adoption of the Four Attitudes.” We can also say that the Four Attitudes are available for anyone who wants to adopt them-anyone who is open-minded enough to give it a try for a few days or weeks and see whether life does, in fact, take a turn for the better.
As already mentioned, the Four Attitudes, while simple in concept, are difficult to put in practice. However, the good news is that we can start the practice immediately-we don’t need separate preparation to get ready. After all, life is constantly throwing things at you. Even as you finish reading this, there’s an opportunity for you take a more positive perspective on something that just happened (or will happen soon)!
Good luck ☺!
Interested in these topics? Go to Sapient Nature.
Someone once said, “Having a bad attitude is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing things wrongly, and applying unsuitable remedies.”
I have also seen people wearing that wonderful shirt, “I love my bad attitude!”
If I am honest, there are times I really want to wear a shirt like that. I don’t know what it is but sometimes I can just be in a “mood,” and, sometimes, I like it. I know, how unhealthy is that?
There are also times I can recognize a bad attitude in others yet fail to see the bad attitude in myself. Somehow I justify my bad attitude but hold you accountable for yours! I know, how unhealthy is that?
And More Importantly…What To Do About It!
“Comparison is the root of most inferiority.” It’s true. When we compare ourselves or our work to others we can feel like we are the best or the worst. On a number of occasions I have told myself, “Craig, that wasn’t good enough. Look how much better Jay did. Look at how awesome Martin is. Everything he does is top notch. Why can’t you be like those guys?” My inner dialogue, when I compare myself to others, effects my attitude in a negative way.
What To Do About It: Remember Your Value
“You know that in the past you were living in a worthless way. You got that way of living from the people who lived before you. But you were saved from that useless life. You were bought, but not with something that ruins like gold or silver. You were bought with the precious blood of the death of Christ, who was like a pure and perfect lamb.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 ICB
Reason Number 2: Unending Hurriedness
We live in a culture that says, “If we don’t get our food in under a minute we have the right to get angry.” After all, it’s called “fast food” for a reason. We have evolved in our thinking and believe If we don’t get what we want when we want it we have the right to a bad attitude. When we live in the future instead of in the moment we get frustrated and when we get frustrated our attitude begins to slip.
What To Do About It: Slow Down And Rest
“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalm 127:2 NLT
Reason Number 3: Unrealistic Expectations
You expected the house to be clean and it isn’t.
You expected a promotion and you didn’t.
You expected to go and you couldn’t.
You expected a raise and they wouldn’t.
You expected the light to be green and it wasn’t.
What To Do About It: : Lower Your Expectations
How much better would your attitude be if, on your next drive around town, you expected every light be red? What would happen when you pulled up to the intersection? You would think to yourself, “well, it’s red, just as I expected.” No need for a bad attitude, right? As a bonus, when you come to a light that is green you would be ecstatic! “Wow! I expected the light to be red and it was green! It must be my lucky day!” The key to a happy life, low expectations! Lol
Reason Number 4: Unresolved Conflict
When conflict goes unresolved, our attitudes head down hill, don’t they? We begin to hyper focus on the conflict and that can cause an attitude spiral in the wrong direction. We go to bed thinking about it and we wake up thinking about it. To put it bluntly we are in a perpetual “funk” that we can’t seem to shake.
What To Do About It: Ask for Forgiveness
I think Paul understood something about conflict and conflict resolution and how it effects our thoughts and attitudes. He reminds us, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NLT. Once you have done all you can, it’s time to move on.
Reason Number 5: Upsetting Circumstances
We can’t control our circumstances, they just happen. Someone treats you in a rude manner. You get an unwarranted negative phone call or email. You get a flat tire or run out of gas on your way to an important meeting or event. Or, you are trying to write a blog in Starbucks while the guy next to you has a phone conversation at peak level oblivious to you or anyone else around them. Life happens, how we respond to it reveals our attitude.
What To Do About It: Choose Joy
Life has it’s ebbs and flows. We all can give a testimony. Knowing that upsetting circumstances are coming and, more importantly, why they are here is half the battle. Paul suggests that, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 NLT. Try reframing the word “problem” as “opportunity.” I find it helps me change my perspective.
Photo Credit: Empowered Living
How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One
We all strive to be mentally healthy, no matter who we are or where we are in life. We all want to be happy. We all want to know where we are going and how to control that ride. We find ourselves comparing ourselves to others. We find ourselves analyzing our flaws. We obsess over outcomes. We must learn how to simply be ourselves.
Being mentally health isn’t based on whether or not you are always happy, always productive all the time. Having some negative thoughts and feelings are natural and part of being human. Instead, being mentally healthy is about healthy coping skills and strategies that you develop for the tough times. It’s not about who is strong and who is weak.
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness every year. That means when you are struggling, you are not alone. But many of us do not feel seen nor do we grab the tools handy to use in those times.
If you are mentally healthy, you adapt more to circumstances, find good in difficult times, learn how to lean on others or ask for help when need be, accept yourself, have realistic perceptions, be resilient, and be ready for anything. You live a balanced life knowing what to prioritize. Your self esteem is high, you are able to communicate your needs, you know your worth and you stand for what you value and believe in giving yourself a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
What it also means to be mentally healthy is that you have a crisis plan for when you are not feeling like yourself. This means you know when you are falling apart, who to turn to, how to cope and so on.
No one is 100% mentally healthy all the time and perfect. If you think otherwise, you’re only getting someone’s highlight reel or just what someone wants you to see.
We stigmatize mental health issues in society, and we use image to cast a false narrative of what is going on to avoid vulnerability. Yet, the less shame a person has, the more likely they will get help.
Do not afraid to be open about your feelings. It can be to anyone you trust: a friend, family member, a mental health professional. You are able to process things in a way that utilizes healthy coping skills. That could be your interests, hobbies, journaling, venting to someone. You don’t let emotions stay bottled lest they explode. You seek cathartic outputs so you can cope.
Symptoms of poor mental health are catastrophizing in many ways. Psych Central says the 15 common cognitive distortions are as follows:
- Polarized thinking (or black and white thinking)
- Jumping to conclusions
- Control fallacies
- Fallacy of fairness
- Emotional reasoning
- Fallacy of change
- Global labeling
- Always being right
- Heaven’s reward fallacy
For example, jumping to conclusions can mean thinking you know the outcome before it happens or having all the facts. Similarly, catastrophizing is thinking about worst case scenarios and thinking only about them happening to you. What they all have in common is there is a level of distorted thinking that can be assessed and corrected to be a more mentally healthy you.
Typically, you can underestimate the good in front of you and the tools you have. You have a distorted view of how things will turn out. Thoughts have power. But you can take control, today.
For a more in-depth look at these distortions with descriptions, check out Psych Central’s article.
So, how to be mentally healthy?
There are 8 simple ways to be mentally healthy. How to stay mentally healthy is to use the right tools and like the Ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself.”
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
How to be mentally healthy starts with cognitive behavioral therapy or for example recording your thoughts to assess if there are any that are unhelpful versus helpful.
There is an easy tool called Thought Record Sheet by Carol Vivyan that can be downloaded from here.
This record sheet has you describe a situation that has happened, rate your emotion, note physical sensations, record unhelpful thoughts/images, then list alternative or realistic thoughts for a more balanced perspective and has you come up with solutions. At the end, you re-rate your emotions.
Such a tool is effective because it has you stop and analyze a thought rather than ruminate on it, which so many of us do. It stops us from catastrophizing and only thinking in worst case scenarios.
2. Mental Health Maintenance Plan
Another tool called the Mental Health Maintenance Plan comes from Therapy Aid and can be downloaded here.
In this worksheet, you can identify triggers and warning signs for mental health decline. Self care and coping strategies listed next will help you come up with a plan for when you feel down. It also asks you to assess if you should seek professional help for these struggles.
This is a good tool to put into practice because it helps you to take control of your mental health coping strategies. When you have a plan in place, you are more likely to act to help your mental state. It’s also something you can share with a therapist to self advocate and ask for help. You can update it at anytime and view your growth.
3. Screen Yourself for a Mental Health Issue
Free screening tools for a mental health issue from Anxiety and Depression Association of America can be found here.
On this website, you can screen yourself for “anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, PTSD or phobia.” You can easily download it and share the results with whoever you’d like.
Nothing is saved or kept on file about you on the site. ADAA does not offer direct services to help with mental health issues such as psychiatry or therapy, but it does offer resources to assist you.
Assessment Psychology Online is another way to screen for mental health issues with some resources to help with them for Free.
4. There’s an APP for That
You can use the Mindwise lists APPs that can help you manage your mental health.
Download an APP and give it a try! Some include apps to “reduce stress, manage a mood disorder or improve mood.” There are many tools on the internet to help calm you when you are troubled. Answers are literally at your fingertips. All you have to do is a web search if you can’t find what you want.
Type in a search engine for meditations and many will come up. This is a great way to remind yourself that you have the power or control to help yourself. Come up with a daily routine where you put this in practice.
5. Find a Therapist
You can use Psychology Today’s free find a live therapist tool here.
If you don’t want a live therapist, Betterhelp is another tool for getting matched with a therapist however it is online.
Signing up for therapy doesn’t mean that you are weak or unable to handle your problems. It means that you are secure in yourself enough to ask for help when you need it.
Professional help doesn’t mean you necessarily have a mental illness. Sometimes, all of us experience needs for someone to help us navigate life. It is very healthy to reach out to a professional in times of crisis but also in times of stability. That’s because when you navigate life with a mentor, you can recognize flaws in your thinking.
There is a lot to gain from this. All you have to do is reach out.
6. Stop the Stigma
In yourself and in society, there is some stigma towards mental health issues. If you are suffering, talking about it will alleviate that suffering.
Most of us experience fear of others’ judgment. But by owning your story and your mental health journey, you can eradicate that fear.
Rather than hide your life story or struggles, be someone who sees your own strength through it all. Rather than staying a victim, you become someone who knows what you are worth, scars and all. You will then prosper.
If someone can’t accept your life path, it’s their loss, not yours. Once you get into that mentality, you can free yourself from needing control over others’ reactions to you.
When you stop the stigma, you make it okay for others to speak their truth too. When you give that acceptance, you also learn to accept yourself. This is how you conquer your mental health story.
The story we tell ourselves is powerful. It doesn’t mean you define yourself by struggle, but it means that you don’t hide from it.
Getting mentally healthy is not about keeping up with appearances. It’s about being you and knowing you don’t have to face life alone.
7. Live to Give
Giving is receiving. When you get the right help and are at the right level of confidence, you can more easily help others.
People need to know that they are worth it. At every level of mental health care, a person will still have some insecurities. When you give to another person — whether through friendship, volunteer work, mentorship or more, you are showing that you value that person. It also makes you feel good too!
One thing that you have to watch out for though is codependency, or depending on someone else’s wellbeing to ignite your own. You can’t help others if you are drowning too. You have to get on solid ground before you can be a healthy option for people to look up to.
When you give to others, you are expressing interest in human interaction, social good and overall humanity which uplifts your perspective towards feeling more purposeful. When you have purpose, you can achieve so much more.
You only have to give your time and attention to someone else that maybe you were once like. Someone in need of help.
When you discover tools for being mentally healthy, pass it on. That way, you can do some good while rising to your potential as well.
Use your pain for purpose. It doesn’t have to be right now, right away or even in the near future. Use it to elevate you to higher inspiration to want to lead others someday.
8. Embrace the Imperfect Process
When you recognize that the process is not perfect, you are more likely to forgive your flaws and find meaning in the struggle. You ultimately decide your reactions, your attitude, your mentality.
No amount of therapy or tools can make you choose who you want to be. They can only guide you towards that. It’s up to you to decide that.
You are able to handle things in life when you know who you want to be. Having goals, a plan, priorities in place are just as important as learning emotional regulation.
Emotional regulation will help you when you start dealing with the cognitive distortions that we all suffer from. You will still experience negative emotions from time to time, and it’s a lifelong process to learn how to cope with them.
Circumstances can sometimes slip from our control, but if we have resources, a support system, professional help to turn to, adaptability, healthy relationships and purpose, we can start to regain a sense of optimism even when that happens.
It’s okay to have flaws. It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to be honest with ourselves and others. What matters is that you don’t stop there. You keep going. You rise again. You decide not to let it define you.
What you do is up to you, but there are tools out there to help shape your destiny.
Being mentally healthy doesn’t mean you have all the answers. It means you know who you are and what you want out of life.
We will all experience strife. But your response is up to you no matter what tools you may use. You are able to rise when you have the right help.
So, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Reach out when you feel like you need it and check in with others even when things are going well. This habit will make you understand yourself better and grow in more ways.
Overall, being mentally healthy doesn’t mean that you won’t have trouble. All of us have mental health maintenance needs, and that is something that can be ignored or maintained.
When you develop a strong mental attitude, don’t forget others along the way who helped you get there. Pay it forward. Give back. Start again, as many times as it takes. And most of all, don’t be afraid to be you.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
More on Mental Health
- How To Control Your Emotions Effectively
- 10 Ways a Silent Retreat Improves Your Mental Health
- How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong
Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com
|^||National Alliance on Mental Illness: Mental Health By The Numbers|
|^||Psych Central: 15 Common Cognitive Distortions|
Having a Bad Attitude Could Be Bad for Your Health
There are plenty of times in life when it’s way easier to see the glass half empty, not half full. You know, like looking for a job or the pressures of baby-making. And a recent study is kind of kicking us while we’re down.
Results from a study done on factors of coronary heart disease found that people who had pessimistic personality traits were more likely to die from the disease than others. In fact, over the course of 11 years, researchers found that study participants in the highest one-quarter of scores on pessimism were more than twice as likely to die of heart disease as those in the lowest one-quarter.
Obviously, being optimistic at certain times can be easier said than done, so we called in Dr. Kim Kjome, a psychiatrist at the Seton Mind Institute, to share four tips to help you put a pause on your pessimism before it turns unhealthy.
1. Know it’s normal. It’s pretty unrealistic to think we’re going to be optimistic 24/7. In fact, being pessimistic at times is not dangerous; it’s pretty normal, but you should be aware of how often you do have those negative thoughts. Dr. Kjome says, “If you hold a negative world view, it can increase your stress levels, and it can decrease neurotransmitters in the brain that improve well-being. If you find yourself constantly expressing negative views or having pessimistic thoughts, being mindful of these thoughts is key to fighting pessimism. Recognize what specifically is triggering these thoughts, and monitor how frequently they come up.”
2. Plan ahead. Life is full of stressful situations — salary negotiations, planning a wedding and being a first-time parent all come to mind. But when possible, you should prep yourself for pessimism. Dr. Kjome expands, saying, “If you’re going into a stressful situation such as a large family gathering that you haven’t been looking forward to, cope ahead. Figure out how to mitigate some of the negativity by balancing the experiences you don’t enjoy with ones that you do. After a stressful experience, plan to do something that will recharge you and balance out the stressful experience.”
3. Fight the stress. “The more stressed out you are, which can be especially common during the holidays, the more pessimistic you become,” says Dr. Kjome. Make sure that over the holidays, you take extra great care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep and working to maintain overall balance in your life.
4. Ask for help. There’s no shame in needing a little extra help now and then. And recognizing your tipping point is critical. Dr. Kjome advises, “People with a pessimistic world view can usually be helped greatly with cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy identifies long held negative beliefs and challenges them. It can give people new ways to see the world and their existence.”
Fretting about the upcoming holidays? Tweet us how you plan to cope @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)
How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You
A negative attitude carries with it a lack of awareness. You’re not necessarily aware of a negative attitude permeating your outlook on life, and because of this lack of awareness, your attitude affects your interactions with other people and your interactions with yourself.
What if you were to become aware? What if, suddenly, you were able to step outside of the thought pattern that creates your attitude, choose a new pattern, and thus, a new attitude?
Think about your thoughts. Many sources of advice aren’t going to tell you this crucial point:
Changing your attitude is not about stifling or eliminating negative thoughts. It’s about changing your thought patterns through action.
Negative thoughts will arise, but when you brood on them it’s like feeding and rewarding them so that they will come back again and form a pattern.
When you alter repetitive thought patterns, you alter your attitude — it’s a physical process, and with it comes the ability to change the world in which you live. You’ll achieve things you didn’t think were possible before.
To undertake this change, understand what to do with negative or unhelpful thoughts when they arise. This understanding will help you take action towards changing your attitude.
Read on for some quick and easy suggestions on how to change a negative attitude.
1. Harness the Incredible Power of Redirection
Oftentimes, we think in a black-and-white, limiting way. It’s called binary thinking. Even thinking of thoughts as only negative or positive is a binary way of thinking.
You develop a negative attitude because you are convinced this binary way of thinking is an accurate reflection of reality. When this way of thinking doesn’t achieve good results, you assign blame. Blame doesn’t help solve the problem of binary thinking — it perpetuates it.
Binary thinking causes you to have tunnel vision when you’re working on your goals. You feel one approach is the right one — but research shows that redirection improves creativity. Redirection requires you to think differently by changing tasks.
Take a step back from what you’re doing. Is there a different approach you can take? Who can you reach out to for help? What haven’t you tried? Redirect your actions and you’ll find yourself thinking more creatively and positively when it comes to solving the original problem.
2. Amp up Your Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk is exactly what it sounds like: these are uplifting statements you make to yourself. Then, you act on them.
The thing about positive self-talk is it’s self-fulfilling. In other words, by concentrating on your strengths and making positive statements about yourself, you become what you tell yourself you are and your attitude changes.
Psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker identifies key statements that mentally healthy people make:
- “I am lovable”
- “I am capable”
- “Most other people are lovable and capable, too”
- “Success comes from doing”
- “Challenges are opportunities”
- “It’s only human to make mistakes”
- “I have what it takes to cope with change — and to make changes happen”
Tell yourself these things every day. Note statement number 4, “Success comes from doing.” You want to change your negative attitude. To successfully change your attitude, do things that help you feel good about yourself and others. Volunteer work and community sports leagues are great options.
Action creates change. Make positive statements to yourself, take action based on these statements, and your outlook on life will change.
3. Be a Change Agent, Not a Victim
An agent is someone who is actively engaged in making something happen. A victim is someone who suffers from circumstances beyond their control.
Victimization is valid and real, but if there’s no active pursuit of a solution, you remain a victim — you remain passive, and your attitude is one of bitterness, helplessness, or cynicism.
You’re an agent who can change your own attitude. Ultimately, your own actions are the only things you control.
You may not be able to control the rise of negative thoughts due to a tragedy that was beyond your control, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.
Consider the following methods of coping with tragedies:
- Talk with a counselor or someone who can give you an outside perspective.
- Turn off the news, stop wallowing, and get active. Activities such as exercise, art, and games will help you process your feelings better by giving you a break from concentrating on repetitive negative thoughts.
- Offer your support to others who have had a similar experience. If, for example, you’re recovering from addiction, find a peer support group.
- Redirect painful emotions by finding an activity, such as volunteer work, writing, music, or sports, that is emotionally fulfilling and allows you to release pent-up emotions.
Sometimes tragedy is self-inflicted, meaning you have a bad experience that’s not necessarily a tragedy, but you treat it as such. You get down on yourself, turn to drugs and alcohol, and brood over your negative thoughts and feelings.
Be sure to recognize if this is happening, and become an agent of recovery instead of victimization.
4. Dream Huge — but Set Realistic Expectations
This is the truth about your dream: it’s real. What you really want out of life — call it your dream or fantasy or ambition — is a real idea you can and should hold onto no matter what happens.
To set realistic expectations, break your dream down into steps that are achievable in the short-term.
If you believe you’re entitled — you expect everything to fall into place — you will not realize your dream. Even if you’re lucky and successful, it won’t feel like success because entitlement is a bottomless pit.
A negative attitude stems from expectations that don’t line up with reality. Again, your actions are the only thing you control. Science shows you’re not even necessarily in control of your thoughts.
But you are in control of the thoughts you choose to dwell on. Concentrate on your plans. You can expect to follow through when you concentrate on and check off the steps to completing a task. Concentrate on the tasks you need to complete in order to make your dream a reality.
5. Transform Negative Thoughts into Ultimate Questions
Asking questions opens your mind to new ideas. It helps you begin to build confidence. Positive self-talk can be tough, because your mind is like a broken record. You tell yourself you’re lovable, but for every time you say that, the thought that no one loves you pops up 10 times.
Forbes’ Melody Wilding makes a great recommendation:
“When you catch your inner critic flinging accusations, think: how can I turn this statement into a question?”
Here are some examples:
- Instead of, “Something must be wrong with me,” say, “What are the steps to success?”
- Instead of, “I hate going to the grocery store,” say, “How can I save time at the grocery store?”
- Instead of, “These people are annoying,” say, “How can I talk to these people so that this meeting is enjoyable?”
- Instead of, “I was a complete idiot last night,” say, “What can I do differently in the future?”
This way, you’re opening possibilities for new, constructive thoughts. You’re also paying attention to your thoughts and doing something with them.
“It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” – Wayne Dyer
In almost all cases, you’ll develop a negative attitude if you choose to be angry and depressed instead of choosing to laugh. But how can you choose to laugh when something seems downright terrible?
This is where the imagination and mental exercise kick in. Choose to look at a disappointing or disheartening circumstance in a different way. What is it that’s ironic, absurd, or outrageous about the circumstance?
Is there an opposite circumstance you can imagine, one that’s so fantastically great it brings tears of laughter to your eyes just thinking about it? Are there any details that are just flat-out strange?
If you’re depressed, choose comedy — choose something that can bring a smile to your face. Train yourself to seek good opportunities for humour, and you’re training yourself to have a positive attitude.
7. Embrace Your Emotions and Release Them Confidently
The moment you experience an emotion, there’s a reason for it; and therefore it’s valid.
Here’s the challenge: you must control what you do with that emotion.
You could hold the emotion in and let it fester, but that leads to things like depression, pent-up rage, and low self-esteem.
You could release your emotion the moment you feel it without thinking, but that leads to relationship issues with other people. Or, you could release the emotion confidently in a way that asserts your self and your boundaries.
- Practice observing your emotions when you feel them on a daily basis. Note what the emotion is and be there with it.
- When you experience a strong emotion such as anger, take time to note your anger, take deep breaths, and calm down.
- Figure out what or who caused your anger, and why.
- Assert yourself. Don’t be mean about it, be confident. Say something like, “I would prefer for you to treat everyone as equals in the group, I can’t speak for everyone in the group, but it’s very important to me.”
- Set your boundaries by repeating “I” statements, such as, “I don’t want you to yell at me, I feel uncomfortable. If there’s a problem, I would prefer to talk about it calmly.”
If you embrace your emotions by processing them — by asking who, what, why, and how — and then you deal with them by expressing yourself confidently, your attitude will remain one of confidence, calmness, and positivity.
8. Create, Move, Believe, Contemplate Great Things
Once you know you are in control of how you react to thoughts and emotions, and in turn your actions create a pattern that reinforces itself, a huge world of greatness is there for you.
Greatness is there because at all times you can choose it. You can choose to listen to your deepest emotions, which are a thing of beauty because of their intense purity, and you can translate them into new things. New songs, poems, sayings, artworks, running routes, exercise routines, meals, friendships, jobs — it’s all there for you.
Each negative thought is a positive response waiting to happen. Feel how your positive responses and your positive attitude are so enjoyable you wouldn’t trade them for anything else. Believe that you are amazing and your actions will have amazing results — even if you are not around to see the results bloom and flower.
Contemplate great things because they’re the greatest things to contemplate. What if your decision to appreciate other people’s little quirks someday becomes love? What if your decision to write in your diary everyday someday becomes a memoir? You’re capable of all these things, and life can be great.
9. Leave with the Four Agreements — but Agree to Come Back Again and Again
A man named Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. With these agreements, Ruiz distills pearls of ancient Toltec wisdom. To transform your attitude, agree to do the following:
- Don’t make assumptions
- Don’t take anything personally
- Be impeccable with your word
- Do your best
That’s it. Think about how these agreements inform your actions.
If you are doing your best, you are in the moment.
If you are impeccable with your word, you say things that reflect on the world you want to create.
If you don’t take anything personally, you don’t get offended by other people’s words and actions, so you don’t lash out at them.
If you don’t make assumptions, you have realistic expectations.
Furthermore, check out these other tips on how to change your attitude. Return to advice that helps you again and again. With an attitude that says, “I’m always learning,” you’ll do just that, and your life will keep improving.
Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com
|^||University of Southern California Annenberg: Switching Between Tasks Promotes Creative Thinking|
|^||PsychCentral: 7 Things Mentally Healthy People Tell Themselves|
|^||The College of Westchester: Tips for Handling the Emotional Impact of Recent Overwhelming Tragedies|
|^||Scientific American: Can We Control Our Own Thoughts? Why Do Thoughts Pop into My Head as I’m Trying to Fall Asleep?|
|^||Forbes: Forget Positive Thinking: This Is How to Actually Change Negative Thoughts for Success|
Success is all about attitude, there’s no denying it. The attitude you have toward opportunities, toward struggles, towards life… It’s involved during the process of making your life filled with happiness and success.
So it’s not surprising that there are multiple negative attitudes people have acquired towards success over the years, mostly because they haven’t yet succeeded.
Is your attitude towards success a positive one?
7 Negative Attitudes People Have Towards Success
These bad and negative attitudes that I’m talking about, develop within many different aspects of success. Some people develop bad attitudes over time because they haven’t gotten to the position they want to be in yet in life, and it seems out of their grasp.
But on the other side of the fence, there are those that have become very successful in life, but it’s gotten to their head and they attitude has shifted over time from good to bad. And that’s not good, definitely not in the long run.
Here are 7 negative attitudes people have towards success:
First on the list, but by no means the worst, is over-confidence. Don’t get me wrong here, confidence is very important in absolutely everything you do. Confidence can be the key to success, but over-confidence? That can be a detriment.
Having an over-confident attitude can leave people open to weak points in themselves and their business, that they haven’t even considered as being weak yet.
If you’re overly-confident in that your business or your knowledge is perfect, you’re unable to work on your own weaknesses and areas where you can improve (There will be at least one area always).
It’s important to still consider areas where you can improve, and always be improving, rather than neglect it because you think you’ve already covered it completely. No matter what it may be, every little detail pushes you one step closer to success.
Greed is one of those negative attitudes people have normally after they become relatively successful. The money and power goes to their head, which eventually leads to them chasing more of it and completely disregarding their original goals.
It’s happens all the time in business, and more often than not they end up destroying themselves because of it.
Sure, you can naturally be greedy, a lot of people are. That’s why you’ll see thousands of people every year start businesses with nothing but dollar signs in their eyes.
They want the money, they want the power, but they have no passion for helping others. So greed is definitely a negative attitude people have potentially both before and after achieving success in their lives.
The first two goals people have involve money and power. What’s your third goal? Forget the first two and focus on that one.
I should have mentioned in the intro that some of these attitudes can actually bring positive outcomes in certain circumstances. 90% of the time people just won’t use those mental attitudes for their advantages, unfortunately. When you think about it, impatience can be just as good a mindset as patience can be.
When you’re naturally impatient, you have a tendency to get things done far more quickly than anybody else would.
The only downside is that without self-control we can often then turn this into a huge disadvantage for ourselves because we skimp on quality just to tick things off as being complete.
The other downside of impatience is that people who have this ‘quality’, are the people who tend to go flat out at work for the first month or two, and then give up on the third.
Can you relate to this? So can I. That’s why impatience needs to be kept an eye on.
I mentioned impatience as being both a positive and negative attitude people have towards success, and in many ways, stubbornness is very similar. Starting with the less focused on, yet positive attitude, stubbornness means people are harder to crack when others try to tell them things can’t be done. They won’t have any of it.
If you’re a stubborn person, as I can definitely be at times, then you’ll know that once you’re set on doing something you’ll do it. It doesn’t matter who tells you it’s impossible, that it can’t be done, you still believe it can be.
The downside, being that stubborn people are far less likely to take others’ advice, or even want other people’s help. It also has the potential to leave people narrow minded and unable to see past what they may be focusing on, which in itself can be both an advantage and disadvantage.
It perhaps gives people greater focus, but less visibility on any opportunities that may present themselves.
I see laziness featured a lot in success and self-development blogs, why wouldn’t it be? Laziness allows ideas to remain ideas and never turn into actions. Being lazy takes no effort; literally none at all. That’s why it’s easy to be lazy and why so many people naturally are.
Although, if you ever want to get anywhere near what you’d call success in life, then laziness is the first negative attitude to sort out, above all others. Success takes hard work and you’re probably not that hard working if you think you’re lazy.
Why do you think 20% of all the self-development and success articles you read address laziness?
Because it’s something you probably need to address too!
You’ll notice, that up until now none of the attitudes listed really serve as a mental block for people not being able or not wanting to move in the direction of success.
That’s where disbelief comes in. What with only a small percentage of people in the world becoming abnormally successful, and a large percentage that put in a lot of effort and still don’t make it, it can be difficult to actually believe that you can do it.
The important thing to remember is that some of the most successful people in the world came from backgrounds where most people thought it could never be done, until they had the believe to find out for themselves.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a classic example, coming from a small village in Austria, becoming a world champion bodybuilder was almost deemed out of the question.
Even then, he went on to star in world famous movies against all odds and people’s opinions, and then even further to become the governor of California. Schwarzenegger was only the second foreign person in history to become governor.
Have the belief, that anything is possible.
Ignorance, laziness and stubbornness are all negative attitudes people have that link together closely. If you’re lazy, you’ll be ignorant. If you’re stubborn, you’ll be ignorant.
The ignorance people sometimes have towards achieving success, is costly. When it comes to success, you can’t ignore anything. All options have to be considered and every stage of any process has to be carried out.
Some people don’t plan much, because they don’t think it’s necessary and so they ignore it, which leaves them open to potential questions and scenarios that they’re unable to answer and navigate their way through.
And just like stubbornness, we might sometimes ignore people and the ideas they have for us, because we think we know better. Which is unfortunate, because like-minded people are your greatest aids in climbing up the ladder of success. They can help you step up your game.
These are all negative attitudes people have towards success, and it can hinder progression toward their goals. Shortly, we’ll be posting an article on all the good attitudes that people can have towards success, as well as the bad ones listed above. Which attitude do you have?
4 Simple Ways to Overcome a Negative Attitude
This is a guest post by Rachel of RachelWojo.com
The alarm sounded, but the mental fog remained. I blinked a few times and then it hit me. “Oh, no! We’re late!” Life had been thriving at breakneck speed and I was exhausted. Who knew how many times I had hit the snooze? The children and I had overslept after my husband left early for work. By 45 minutes! I quickly threw on the clothes I wore the previous day, splashed water on my face, and shoved a piece of peppermint gum in my mouth. Who had time to brush teeth? With 6 children to care for, 3 of whom were missing the bus, oversleeping was more than a terrible start to the day. We rushed, slammed, and took every shortcut possible. I somehow managed to pull the van in front of the school just 15 minutes past the first bell. 3 slightly disheveled children popped out and “I love yous” were cut off by slamming doors.
Maybe you’ve never overslept or your kids have never been late to school. But regardless of the circumstances, I know you’ve dealt with what happened next. On the short drive home, I felt it creeping up from my toes and making its way through every nerve. The thoughts began with “I am the worst mother ever. How could I do this?” and continued on with “What grown woman oversleeps? Now we’re going to be running late the rest of the day….” The thinking pattern escalated and what began with emotions over an accidental oversleeping episode ended with the tornado of a negative mindset.
Have you been there? When overwhelming circumstances consumed you and one negative thought led to another that led to another that led to another? How can you stop the negativity and prevent ruin? Today I want to share with you 4 Simple Ways to Overcome a Negative Attitude. No matter the circumstances, these tips will help improve your ability to stop negative internal chatter before it overpowers you in the moment.
1. Refuse to repeat the negative thought.
Catching ourselves at the first sign of negativity presents the opportunity to discard the beginning thought before it breeds another. Training myself to pause at the first sign of skepticism has improved my general thought cycles. I can be stubborn about other things; why not be stubborn about protecting my mind? Standing the ground of “I’m not going there…” requires a deliberate turn from negativity. Identifying a negative thought as soon as we have one can help us refuse to repeat the cycle.
2. Choose to believe truth over the negative feeling.
Separating how we feel from the truth of a matter can be difficult. But does hitting the snooze one morning and oversleeping make me the worst mother in the world? No. Although I felt like the worst mother in the world the day my family overslept, the truth is “I’m a real mom who’s doing her best for God and her family each day.” At the first hint of a negative thought, identify the thought as fact or feeling. For me, identifying truth is reminding myself of what God’s Word says.
3. Remember to speak as kindly to myself as I would to others
It’s easy to quote the “golden rule” to our children, right? “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” But sometimes we treat ourselves worse than we want others to treat us. The conversations we carry within our own minds are perhaps more detrimental than some we’ve had with other human beings. My mom gave me three guidelines for conversation when I was a child and I’ve never forgotten them. These guidelines can also be applied to self-talk.
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
Are the words I’m thinking about myself true? Would someone who knows me well agree with my thoughts? Would a stranger believe these words to be kind if I said them aloud? Am I belittling myself?
4. Search for an aspect of the circumstance for which I can be thankful.
Finding the good in difficult circumstances is a cultivated effort, right? We all know we need to think positive thoughts, but how do we do that when life presents depression, divorce, or disease?
One of my daughters fights a rare terminal illness, MPS. If I focus on the “average lifespan of 10-15 years,” I experience nothing but negative emotional thoughts. But when I count the blessings instead of the burdens, joy defeats despair. At the very moment a negative thought enters my mind, I purposely look for an opposite truth. These hard core statements require determined effort. For example, if we wind up spending half the day in the doctor’s office for something seemingly small, I’m tempted to think: “What a waste of time!” But I have fought hard to think instead: “We are blessed to be able to have healthcare. I’m so thankful for a doctor who cares and an office who spends time making sure every patient is cared for.” It hasn’t been easy to train myself to change perspective. When I flounder to find a positive, sometimes I use this catch phrase: “This could be worse and because it’s not, I’m thankful.”
If you’re like me, purposely choosing to think positive thoughts is not an easy task. But it is a very worthy one and promotes strength of mind. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if a lightning bolt would come down and zap that negative thought for us? But life doesn’t happen that way. Will it take some work to prevent negative internal chatter? Yes, but the work is well worth the effort.
- Refuse to repeat negativity.
- Choose to believe truth.
- Remember kindness.
- Search for thanks.
Working toward a milestone will always accomplish more than wishing for a miracle.
Ready to take one more step?