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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Seven Great Ways to Improve Your Attitude

What Is Attitude?

What is attitude? Quite simply, it is a point of view, an outlook on life that directs your inner energy toward outer manifestation and results. Attitude acts like a gyroscope that sets the orientation of your energy flow. Specifically, your attitude is your tendency of moving toward one thing among all things, in one direction to the exclusion of all other possible directions. It sets your course and predicts where you'll soon be in your life.

As children, whenever it would snow, my friends and I liked to play, "who can walk the straightest line?" We'd set a brief course from a starting point to a destination across the yard. Most of my friends would make their respective treks by looking at their feet and measuring the straightness of their path by looking back at the steps they'd just made. When they finally reached the end, their journey could be measured by anything but a straight line. There were little, sometimes gross, deviations all along the way.

I learned early on that, to walk the straightest line, I'd have to look ahead toward where I wanted to go, not back to where I had been. As long as I kept my head up and my eyes looking outward toward the destination, I could easily and confidently move in the direction of my goal along the shortest (that is, the straightest) route.

Attitudes are formed by means of experience. All experience occurs with concomitant emotions. Depending on the degree and bearing (positive or negative) of those emotions, your subsequent attitude toward similar future experiences will be shaped.

The first time I performed in public is a good example. It was for a talent show in college. I played the banjo and sang a couple of songs. I almost didn't make it to the platform because stage fright had gripped me to the point I could barely move. I was quite nervous throughout my performance and, after it was over, felt I hadn't done very well at all. To my amazement, however, I won the competition! I don't recall the prize I received, but I clearly remember the way I felt. The sense of exhilaration and confidence that embraced me was reward enough. From that point on, I've performed in public without stage fright because my attitude toward performing was shaped in a positive manner by my attending emotions from that experience.

After attitudes are formed they serve to direct your mental focus and physical movement toward getting you where you're already going. Your thought process, just like anything of a material nature, is set in motion by experience and emotion along a line of judgment that tends to continue along that line unless something alters its direction.

Try this experiment: take a clean sheet of paper and rub a marble just a few times gently along a straight line anywhere on the page. Place the marble at one end of this line. Gently tap it in the direction of the line and see what happens. That invisible and imperceptible line in the paper, formed by very little repetitious effort, becomes the pathway along which the marble moves. It directs the action of the marble and determines where it will go out of all the multiple possible ways it could go.

Attitudes are habits of thinking that shape your behavior which, in turn, produce certain kinds of results in your life. We make our habits by our thinking and then those habits either make or break us. Another way of putting it is that attitudes are the vehicles that drive you along a road of your own making (by thought) to the destination toward which you're already headed. They create and sustain the life you experience on a daily basis.

Repetitious thought produces a trajectory that spans both the visible and invisible universe. Attitude moves your mind in thought to ideas and imaginings, hopes and dreams that move your body toward making these invisible energies visible in your life. Although subsequent to thought initially, attitude forms out of repetitious thought and seeks to manifest its secret existence. This is why your attitudes cannot be long disguised or hidden. They comprise your "second face" to the world, the face that cannot fail to eventually disclose the truth about the inner you.

Changing Your Attitudes

If you don't like what's being disclosed to the world regarding your inner self; if you're dissatisfied with the truth about you; if you'd rather have different results in your life; if you don't like where you are and where you're going, then how can you change what's transporting you there - your attitudes?

There are seven ways:

1. Begin with examining your current attitudes toward yourself and other people. This is not as difficult as it might at first appear to be. Simply ask yourself, "What is destructive about the way I'm thinking about myself and others?" In other words, what's causing pain and displeasure; what's resulting in my feeling unsatisfied with, or perhaps even ashamed of my behavior and what I have in my life? If you'll spend just a few minutes in honest, reflective thought about these issues, you'll soon discover that at the root of your lack of fulfillment is a habit of thinking that is based on incomplete and/or inaccurate information. The story you're telling yourself about yourself and others will soon be revealed to have been constructed on a partial foundation of facts, many of the bricks being missing and the mortar holding it all together being mere prejudice and opinion masquerading as facts.

When you uncover the "facts of your attitudes," you'll also discover what is good and helpful in those attitudes. Keep what's working to get you what you want in life and get rid of what's not. Make a list - a simple "T" chart - with what's working on the left side and what's not working on the right. Then set goals to increase the size of the list on the left while reducing the size on the right.

2. Listen to what you say to yourself about others. Listen to what they are saying about you. Your thoughts are composed of the language you use to tell the story about your truth to yourself and others. That same language is used in the stories they tell regarding what they experience to be the truth about you. What you hear when you truly listen will provide additional facts that you will need to incorporate into your new and improved story about the truth about you.

3. Your thinking determines your pathways to living. James Allen wisely wrote,

"Thought in the mind hath made us.
What we are by thought was wrought and built.
If a man's mind hath evil thought, pain comes on him as comes the wheel the ox behind. If one endure in purity of thought, joy follows him as his own shadow - sure."

"As you think, you travel; just as you love, you attract.
You are today where your thoughts have brought you.
You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.
You cannot escape the results of your thoughts.
But you can endure and learn; you can accept and be glad.
For you will realize the vision of your heart, be it base or beautiful.
You will fall, remain or rise with your thoughts.
Cherish your vision, your ideal.
For you will become as small as your controlling desire or as great as your dominant aspiration."

Read that last sentence again. This is where attitudes are born. If you accede to your uncontrolled desires of the moment, the results that occur will not be fulfilling in the long term. In fact, they very often will be the source of regret and sorrow over wasted time and misdirected energy that gradually can dissipate one's life. Regret is an attitude that shapes the expectation of future experience. You wind up feeling insignificant, irrelevant, insufficient and inadequate for the life you have.

On the other hand, if you give rein to your dominant aspirations and follow your dreams your attitude is one of hope and cheerfulness that can endure all sorts of hardships, disappointments and setbacks. You feel like you can do anything because you have the focused energy to do what you know you need to do in order to live out the truth about yourself. Anticipation and positive expectation are attitudes that shape the kinds of experiences you'll have in the future.

4. To change your attitude you need to change not just your thinking habits but also your giving habits. Give more than you're giving right now. Give to more people that you're giving right now. Not just money, but your time, your talents, your counsel, your hopes and dreams. Share your story with more people. Share more of your story with people. Give them more of your energy, not just more of your knowledge. Give them more than they expect or feel they deserve. Make them better receivers by becoming a better giver. Give them a valuable interaction that exceeds ordinary experience. Leave them with a better self-image and a greater hope for their future.

5. When criticized, admonished or reprimanded, don't be defensive, seeking to merely preserve the mental self-portrait that you happen to think was well painted. Be open to the many colors and hues that others' have on their palettes of life that could help fill out and beautify the picture you have of yourself. You can help them see their own need for "beautification" by letting them help you become the vibrant and colorful person you were created to be. Openness with the expectation of learning something new and different about yourself is an attitude that leads to becoming a bigger, better and "newer" human being.

6. Don't try to be perfect! An attitude of perfection causes imperfection to reign supreme. Seek excellence and improvement rather than a static position in your life that you define as "perfect." Life is always changing and so should your attitude about what makes it worth living!

7. There are persons and processes that influence your life and attitudes. Those who have contributed positively to your life have also helped shape your attitudes about what is possible for you to achieve and to have in life. You need to increase the positive influences and influencers by getting more of those people into your life. Ask them who their positive influencers are and request that they introduce you to them.

Just as there are positive influencers there are positive processes, like the effective management of time and energy flow in your life that serve as a basis for attitude. If you feel you aren't in control of your time and that your energy is misspent or misdirected, your attitude toward your future will be on the bleak side. Seek to acquire and fine-tune processes and systems that will make your life easier and more efficient. When you gain control over your life by means of positive processes and systems, your attitude will be one of confidence and "assertive anticipation" for a brighter future.

Ken Wallace, M. Div., CSL has been in the organizational development field since 1973. He is a seasoned consultant, speaker and executive coach with extensive business experience in multiple industries who provides practical organizational direction and support for business leaders. A professional member of the National Speakers Association since 1989, he is also a member of the International Federation for Professional Speaking and holds the Certified Seminar Leader (CSL) professional designation awarded by the American Seminar Leaders Association.

Ken is one of only eight certified Business Systems and Process Coaches worldwide for General Motors.