Attitude: It Can Make a World of Difference
Have you ever had a day like the young boy had in the book by Judith Viorst Alexander, The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Alexander’s day was not going well so his attitude started losing altitude early that morning: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
Our attitudes can be compared to a microphone hooked up to a sound system that announces to the world the state of our soul. If deep within, we fear failure, dread discouragement and criticism, are poorly prepared to handle problems, and have no control over our thought patterns, our attitude is the megaphone that will announce it to the world. Often times we have little to no awareness of how we are reacting so our bad attitudes continue. It is not until we become aware of our attitudes that we understand that the ‘sound system’ is on and everyone can hear what’s deep within us. Think about it, who would like a loud microphone constantly announcing everyone’s inner thoughts for the world to hear? If all we hear is shrills, screams, and flat notes, I think we will get annoyed. Becoming aware of our attitude allows us to mute the ‘speakers’ so we can adopt a different view that can transform our thoughts, which in turn will improve our unfavorable reactions or ‘sounds’ to much more pleasant ones.
Some negative attitudes are helpful. It is appropriate to make those irritating noises for the whole world to hear once in a while. Since it is impossible to choose to have a good attitude every hour of every day, this allowance for the occasional bad attitude ends up being a good tool that can be stored and used when needed. An example of this would be when you find yourself rolling your eyes at a smoker and in so doing you make him feel compelled to stop his destructive behavior around you and your loved ones. In this case, having a bad attitude towards smoke and cigarettes is good for your health and your children’s lungs. But like I said, this type of bad attitude must be used sparingly.
Many of us had parents who instilled in us the right attitudes during our formative years. Yet we are surprised to see that even though we were once positive and perseverant, now we are negative and isolated. During the course of our lives we discovered that in order to belong we had to adapt. One of the most common ways to adapt to our new negative environment is emulating our peer’s attitudes; in other words, we learned how to be negative in order to fit in. But as we grow up emotionally, we come to realize that it might be time to unlearn those attitudes and relearn new ways to react to the world; or make the sounds that come from deep within us much more ‘melodious’.
Every morning when the sun rises, is a new opportunity to start fresh with a new attitude. Since attitude is something that I struggle with daily, adjusting my attitude every day is something I count as a privilege. As a parent, I can show my children every day that the past doesn’t have absolute control on my attitude; I am not held hostage to the failures of yesterday. Today I can come to understand anew that I don’t have to be so hard on myself or others because no one is perfect; that “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”. I can show them how to be brave as I daily learn to change my attitude one flat note at a time. So when the microphone is turned on, people don’t hear the sounds of a defeated, pathetic attitude but the pleasant sounds of a good attitude even when I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.