Previously there were two ladies…
I told you about two ladies who walk into Starbucks with contrasting body language. You can find this account in the previous blog, Message with Attitude. Their body language mysteriously influenced my perception of them. A physically less attractive, older woman appeared compellingly charming, while a younger lady, who by all conventional belief would have been a knockout, gave off an unattractive vibe. My takeaway from the experience was how our attitude influences our body language, and ultimately, our success.
Now, I am not saying that the young lady was not successful, nor am I saying that she should not have been looking at her phone. The point that I am making is that our body language speaks volumes. A first impression can mean the difference between a successful career and a mediocre one—an opportunity gained, and an opportunity lost. Our body language, success, influence, and relationships all draw from a common well. Within that well lies our attitude. It is what sets us apart! Now that you’re caught up…
What determines our attitude?
Most of what I have read suggests that our thoughts influence our attitude. It may be an obvious statement, but I think we have all seen how the thoughts we consciously (or subconsciously) entertain determine the quality of our attitude.
“You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.”—William James
To understand how it all works, I pulled together information from a variety of sources including, but not limited to The Ultra Mindset, Unstoppable, and The Difference Maker. Each source offers complementary yet different perspective which makes it a bit complex to imagine. I had to sketch my own picture to understand it fully.
Note: I did not intend for this diagram to resemble to two hemispheres of the brain, but surprisingly, it does, only opposite. The right-side features Cognition and Mindset as functions of focus (although physically left hemispherical functions), and the left side features Attitude as a function of emotion (a physically right hemispherical function).
What’s the big deal?
In his book, The Difference Maker, John Maxwell puts great emphasis on the matter that our attitudes determine our outcome. He says that our attitudes are incredibly predictive of our future. If you expect bad things, those are what you will get.
Your attitude is your greatest asset or your greatest liability. It will make you or it will break you. —John Maxwell
One of my favorite stories involves Chesty Puller, commander of First Marine Regiment, and his men being surrounded during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He got a quick intelligence brief and found that his men were surrounded and outnumbered 29:1.
We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things. They’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.
Where to start?
In the previous blog, I discussed the first part of my morning routine. Now, I am not saying that my morning routine is the perfect answer to all attitude problems. I am also not saying that I do not have my share of attitude challenges, even with my routine. However, I promise you this: If you start your day with gratitude, your attitude will begin from a position of advantage against negativity and pessimism. And, it is easier to maintain a positive attitude that it is to discard a negative one, and develop a positive one from scratch while dealing with your day.
The things on which we focus our attention determine the direction in which our thoughts will influence our attitude. When we focus on negative behaviors, we develop negative attitudes; whereas, when we focus on positive behaviors, we develop good attitudes.
The happiest people don’t necessarily have everything. They simply make the best out of everything they have. —unknown
It’s one thing to address negative thoughts and move on; but, when we linger, our focus shifts away from positive, constructive thoughts and conforming [negative] attitudes emerge.
For me, the above diagram simplifies the pattern: Wherever your focus leads, your emotions will follow. In this sense, the old proverb rings true,
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” –Proverbs 23:7
Thanks for learning this stuff with me! Today, we discovered that we do have the ability to control our attitude [indirectly] by controlling our thoughts. In the next blog, we will take what we have learned and see how they can apply to our mindset, so stay plugged in!
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