Think about something that has made you unhappy, and ask yourself why it made you unhappy. I’m willing to bet that it was your interpretation of what happened that helped determine the emotion you felt, that led to your attitude.
One of the things I love about attitude is that you determine what your attitude is going to be in any given situation. If our attitude determines whether we are happy or not, and we can control our attitude, then that means happiness is a choice!
One of the best examples I heard on this subject is about a father on a subway train. A man get’s on the subway and sees a father just sitting there with his children running around and screaming, causing a disturbance. The man get’s annoyed and goes to the father and asks “Can you please do something about your children; they are really causing a disturbance.” To this the father says “Oh, I’m so sorry. We just came from the hospital where their mother died, and I guess they don’t know how process what happened”. At this point the attitude of the annoyed man was no longer annoyed, but one of sympathy, and he asked how he could help.
The point of that story is to show that our perspective on things can change our attitude. So if we want to have a better attitude, we can do so by reframing how we view a situation.
When I was 14 or 15 years old, I went to a summer camp, and was known as the person who wouldn’t get angry. It actually became somewhat of a contest between some other campers to see who could be the first one to get me angry, and so many people did things that should have worked. I won’t go into the all the details, but trust me when I say that I would have been VERY angry under any other circumstances. In this case however, I wasn’t because I knew what was behind it all. Because of the situation, and the game it became, I saw it as a challenge and instead looked at it as being funny when they would fail to make me angry. The point is that in any other scenario I would have ended up getting very mad, But because of the way I was thinking of it, It didn’t. This just goes to show that it’s not the actions or events themselves that determines how we feel, but what we think of those actions or events. Thankfully we can control our thoughts!
In Orrin Woodward’s book ‘Resolved – 13 Resolutions for Life‘, he has a chapter on attitude that explains this process very well. The idea is to take a bad situation and put a positive spin on it. Orrin shares an example of a woman who no longer had her own car when her husband convinced her it would be best not to renew a lease since they work together. She was not very pleased because she no longer had the freedom to do as she wished when she wished. But then her attitude changed by looking on a bright side; she now had a personal chauffeur to drive her anywhere she wanted to go, and when he was away on business, she could rent and test drive almost any car she was interested in. She went from frustrated to happy by reframing her circumstances.
Because our thoughts determine our attitude, this idea can be used every minute of every day. In ‘Attitude is Everything’ Jeff Keller explains how what we are telling ourselves in our mind helps determine our attitude; if we repeat it often enough. He says
The idea that we become what we think about has also been expressed as the Law of Dominant Thought. This means that there’s a power within each of us that propels us in the direction of our current dominant thought.
The key word here is DOMINANT. You can’t expect positive results when you spend 10 seconds a day thinking positively… and the remaining 16 waking hours dwelling on negative outcomes!
So when nothing bad is happening to you in the immediate, tell yourself that good things are coming or find something good about what is already taking place (or both!) In the beginning this could be as simple as telling yourself “Things are going great today because nothing bad happened!” (just make sure you don’t add the word ‘yet’ at the end, or your asking for something bad to happen.) If something bad happens, re-frame it to something positive. When I fail at something, I don’t get mad; what would that change? I choose to look at it as a lesson. I tell myself that I learned what doesn’t work and so I’ll do better next time. When I go on long trips to leadership conventions, instead of wishing for it to be close (which I deep down I kind of do), I think of something good about it. I think of how I now get all this driving time to listen to more CDs. It is SO much easier to do while driving
Another thing that helps you to be happy is to smile! I used to never really smile unless someone told a joke, and so I was never really happy. Jeff Keller’s book along with ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ by David Schwartz changed that. In these books the author talks about the power of a smile. Not only does it make those around us smile and like us more, which in turn makes most of us happier, but it stimulates a better attitude within us. When you smile, it’s hard to be sad or angry. I then started forcing myself to smile whenever I could, even if I had no reason to. And it was like magic; every time I did I felt better, even if only a little bit. I did this often enough that I now smile often, and almost never have to force myself; I actually started to naturally be happy. You might try saying it’s the LIFE products that did it or the business that surrounds it that is improving my life; but this information came from those products, and it started the ball rolling!
Are you ever feeling down or depressed? Do you have trouble being happy? Tell yourself that things are going to improve. Picture it in your mind, And smile! Force it! You can only fake it so long before you start to believe the self talk. It’s not as easy as that, but in the end it is as simple as that. It may take a long time, and it will require effort, but it will happen.
I strongly recommend the books I mentioned - no matter how good or how bad you may feel. Even if your feeling good, why not reach for GREAT!?
But don’t stop there! Once you’re feeling good yourself, it’s time to use your new found attractiveness to influence those around you; bringing happiness to others and improving their lives. You won’t regret it, and neither will they!