Attitude: More Important Than You Think
Attitude: More Important than Circumstances
There is a saying that attitude is more important than facts. It goes on to say that what happens to us is not nearly as important as how we respond to what happens. Attitude, therefore, is more important than anything else to a sense of well-being. Simply put, I believe if that if we have the right attitude at any given time in life, we can triumph over anything.
Attitude: More Important than Education
I believe attitude is more important than education. I have a doctoral degree, and as far as I can see, no amount of education can dispel the unpleasant effects of an unpleasant attitude. A person with even the highest of degrees from the most prestigious of universities is still considered by most to be a "jerk" if he or she is seen as being "arrogant" or "condescending." That is, if he or she takes joy in making others feel they are "beneath" him or her in status or importance. Think about it. Don't you know, or maybe you’ve known in the past, people for whom this is true? Rome’s great speaker, Marcus Tullius Cicero (born on January 3, 106 BC, murdered on December 7, 43 BC) is credited with the quote: "Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue, than education without natural ability." Great saying. Too bad he was murdered, huh? But I digress.
Attitude: More Important than Money
Back to attitude, which I also believe can be even be more important than money. In fact, attitude can even influence situations where you are facing a lack of money. Even bill collectors and debtors deal more pleasantly, and many times more leniently, with people who show a pleasant attitude and a willingness to do all within their means, when they can, to resolve a financial problem.
It is said the two most difficult things to handle in life are failure and success, and I believe attitude is the thing that makes the most difference in how we handle each of them. Attitude is more important than success, and it is—by far, more important than failure. How so? With the wrong attitude, anyone can turn any kind of financial success or prosperity into a curse. A person can become so overindulgent or so arrogant and proud over his or her accomplishments, that he/she literally can turn into someone people can’t stand to be around; someone people would hide from rather than suffer a moment stuffed inside the balloon of their presence. So yes, it is possible to allow success to make your head swell; to feel so self-important that simply being around you becomes unpleasant for others. Without a healthy dose (a good and proper amount) of humility, success can be hard to live with.
Attitude: More Important than Failure
Attitude is more important than failure. I say this for two reasons. Number one, if you have failed at something, that is a fact, and you cannot change the fact that you have failed in your attempt to reach a particular goal. But number two is that you can change your attitude toward any failure. In order to have the motivation and determination you need to get up and begin again after a failure, you must have a good attitude about it. How? You must learn to look at failure—any failure—as a way to achieve success. It’s helpful to look happily, after a necessary time of mourning, at any failure as a “trial and error” exercise. After all, trial and error is the foundation for success. Crossing off the wrong ways to achieve your goal can only serve to get you closer to the right way. Think about it. Few people ever succeed based on trying something one time. Most of us have to try things several or even many, many, many times, before we achieve success. For this reason, we can view failures as steps toward success, and that means we should have a good attitude about failure.
History proves that defeat and failure can be stepping-stones to success—with the right attitude. Even Thomas Edison, perhaps the world's greatest inventor, experienced and triumphed over failure. One of his first inventions was a ballot-counting machine that he expected to sell. It did not sell. But Edison didn’t let that failure stop him. He had a desire to invent, and that’s what he did with his life. He followed his passion for inventing until one day he invented the phonograph, the kinescope (motion picture machine), an improved incandescent light bulb, and he eventually built an electric company (now known as General Electric). And these are just a few of many of his inventions and endeavors.
Any time I look back at my life over the last few years, I can see many, many reasons why a lot of people going through what I've gone through (long periods of unemployment, threats of home foreclosure) would have adopted a "defeatist" attitude about life in general. But what good would it have done me to become depressed over my situation? Could feeling “down-trodden” have led me to anything other than being down-trodden?”
Attitude: More Important than Everything
I must tell you there have been moments when it has been very tempting to give in to negative emotions. But my attitude is what has always saved me. That’s because I work hard to keep it positive. I choose to stay connected to the positive force of life, and my route—the path I choose to feel better, to become stronger, and to help me persevere through it all, is through my relationship with God and prayer. In fact, my relationship with God won’t allow me to wallow in self-pity for more than a few seconds or a few minutes. Faith in God has taught me that I have to look on the bright side of life.
Attitude: Always a Work-in-Progress
Because life is filled with ups and downs, I have to remind myself to keep working on my attitude. That means working to keep my mood and my emotions steady, my nerves calm, and my attitude as positive as possible—no matter what I'm going through. And that is how I’ve learned not to allow negativity (or negative people) to bring shadows into my light. I pay attention to life, and that's how I know the real winners I respect are those who find a way to connect, every day, to God’s spiritual instructions for living (make no mistake: I'm speaking of those found in the Christian Bible). True winners are those who learn to reach above and beyond the limitations of the physical world. People who work to to rise above the worries, anxieties, pain, misery and cares of a purely flesh-centered existence. People who strive to wrestle to the ground the flesh’s propensity (and its desire) to cop a bad attitude when things don’t go their way.
Thomas Edison was a great man; a great inventor. But as a human being, he wasn't any more special than you or I. That means if he could bounce back from failure to find success--time after time, after time--then why is it so hard for so many of us to do the same thing? It was his attitude. Edison is credited with the quote: “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” That was his attitude shining through, and I think such an attitude had a whole lot to do with all he was able to achieve during his lifetime. With Edison's quote lighting the way, I think attitude has a whole lot to do with what any of us can achieve in life.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD