When we were raising our children, I would always tell them, “Attitude determines altitude.” This idea is very similar to another I used in business, “Hire the smile and train the rest.” A person does not need to be the most skilled at a certain task if they have the right attitude. The right attitude means that they are willing to learn and pleasant to those with whom they work.
Often, improving an attitude is more difficult than improving a skill. The following are ideas that can help:
- Look for the good – I heard a speaker say this couplet when I was 19 years old, “Life is a show for you and for me, and what you look for is what you see.” That thought has had a profound impact on my life. It reminds me that I can choose how I feel about the things that naturally happen to me and to everyone else in this world. I can see life as a series of obstacles or a series of challenges that will make me a better person.
- Don’t play the victim – It is sad when people adopt victimhood as their way of being. They become like missile-seeking targets. They can never be happy because there is always someone or something making their lives miserable.
- Stop saying, “I have to…” – Constantly saying, “I have to” do this or that is a sign of someone looking for sympathy. There are only two things you have to do – die and pay for your sins; everything else is optional. We choose to do those things that we don’t really want to do because we know the consequences of our choice, and there is nothing wrong with that. Since we make that choice, it is much healthier to say, “I am going to” work or school or traffic court, rather than, “I have to go to…”
- Talk positively – Life is so much better if, when people ask, “How are you are doing,” to instinctively respond, “Fantastic!” First of all, when compared to billions of other people, our lives are fantastic. Secondly, when we say that we are “Fantastic,” it reminds us of how great our lives are and that we need to make sure that we speak that way.
- Acknowledge our blessings – I have a friend who is the Pastor of a local church. Whenever I ask him, “How are you are doing,” he always responds, “Blessed!” He has taken his view of life to another level. Not only does he recognize how wonderful life is, even with its problems, he also recognizes God’s hand in making his life “blessed.”
- Stop complaining – No one has everything go their way. But, as Grandma Allred used to say, “Bloom where you are planted.” In other words, make the best of the situation. Complaining is corrosive. It only serves to create a negative attitude in ourselves and anyone else who listens, including the kids. We choose to do what we want to do or what we feel is correct. Whining about it will not help.
- Recognize that we can’t control others – Parents must realize that there comes a day when they can’t force their children to behave any more than we can make others drive safely. Children can do whatever they want unless they are physically restrained, and there aren’t enough teenager prisons to handle them all.
We like to believe that we should be in control of everyone else. The only one in control is God. We have to look to Him to execute justice and make things “fair.” What we can do is model a positive attitude and show our children the good things that come to those who try to be good.
- Recognize that Murphy’s Law is nonsense – I think that the notion of Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will,” is just silly. It would be a great idea to never utter those words, or, “That’s just my luck,” “I never win anything,” “Why does everything happen to me,” etc.
- Stop stressing over things you can’t change – We have had our share of financial, family and health problems. Through it all, my wife would calmly do whatever she could to solve the problem without adding drama to the situation. She says, “Don’t worry. If you can do something about a problem, do it. If you can’t do anything, worrying won’t help.”
If we want to be happy and help our children to see the best in life, we must have a positive attitude. Life will truly be difficult from time to time, but if we work at it, life will get better. Your positive attitude will positively affect your altitude.