Surroundings Impact Attitude

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we often get long stretches of gray, dreary, rainy days during the winter months.  String enough of those days together and it can start to impact your attitude, unless you’ve planned ahead for how to keep that from happening.

I’m amazed how much our surroundings impact our attitude.  My plan for making it through Pacific Northwest winters (and any other season for that matter) with my attitude positively intact has been to ensure I’m surrounded by things that bring me joy and lift my spirit. For me, that includes things like:

  • Making sure the spaces I’m in have plenty of bright light. Preferably natural light.
  • Listening to music or podcasts with upbeat or positive messages.
  • Spending time connecting with God by reading the Bible and communicating with Him through prayer.
  • Interacting with people who are, positive, encouraging, or full of joy.
  • Collaborating with people on something that benefits others.
  • Having art or pictures around that I find pleasing to view.

My own experience informs me that when my surroundings are positive, my attitude isn’t far behind.

What changes can you make to your surroundings today that would have an immediate and positive impact on your attitude?

Why not make that change right now?

Five Questions to Help Maintain a Positive Attitude

Let’s face it, sometimes unpleasant unexpected things just happen through no fault of our own.  This could be anything from a job loss, to a bad diagnosis from a doctor, to the unexpected death of a loved one.  As challenging as these things may be, we still have the luxury to choose our attitude as we navigate scenarios like these.  Here are 5 questions we can ask to help maintain a positive attitude through a difficult situation:

  1. What were the positive aspects of this scenario before I received the bad news?

It is so easy to let your mind think of all the negative aspects when we receive bad news.  In fact, our minds seem to go there automatically, unless we decide to focus them elsewhere.  With this in mind, choose to look back with an eye on the positive.  Think about experiences gained or relationships formed.  The positives are there, we just have to look for them.

  1. What can I learn from this?

This may sound cliché, but there is something to be learned from every situation.  Think about what you have learned or what you can learn from this situation.  At first, it may seem like there isn’t anything, but if we’re paying attention, we can learn some valuable lessons we might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn.

  1. What does this make possible?

This is my favorite question!  There is something about an unexpected situation that alters what has been normal for us, be it temporary or permanent.  In that alteration, that “new normal”, there are opportunities for us that didn’t exist before.  Identify what they are and how you can take advantage of them to improve your future and your definition of “normal” moving forward.

  1. What am I thankful for?

Even in light of a bad situation, we have much to be thankful for.  Don’t lose focus on what those things are.

  1. How can I use this experience to help others?

Life is more fun when we share the journey with others.  No matter what you’re going through, someone else has gone through it before, or will be going through it after you.  That’s cool on 2 different levels!  First you can find others who have gone through a similar circumstance and seek guidance from them.  Second, after you’ve gone through it, you will be poised to help someone else in the future who is going through a situation you’ve already been through.  What a blessing to be a source of encouragement to someone during what is a dark hour for them.

 

Yes, unexpected and unpleasant situations really stink.  We could go as far to say they really suck.  But how we come through them, and how our future is impacted by them, is largely due to the attitude we have while were in them.

 

Let’s be mindful of this powerful choice we have and decide today, and every day, to keep an attitude that is positive instead of letting a negative attitude take root.  The choice is ours.  Let’s choose wisely.

Someone Would Gladly Trade With You

Life is good, but occasionally we get frustrated and begin to complain.  This isn’t all bad, because frustration can often be the spark that causes us to take action to improve our life.  However, we get into trouble when we focus solely on what is frustrating us and develop an attitude of complaining.

We may justify our complaining by pointing out how bad things are, but here’s a thought to consider the next time we feel like complaining:  someone in the world would gladly trade places with you.

Consider this:

You think… Someone else thinks…
My job sucks. I’ll trade with you!

I’m currently unemployed and would love to have a job right now.

My marriage stinks. I’ll trade with you!

I’d love to be married and willing to work out our differences with a spouse.

I’m old. I’ll trade with you!

I’m 32 and have been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  I’d love to look forward to growing old.

I’m fat and out of shape. I’ll trade with you!

I live in a country where we rarely have enough to eat, let alone have the ability to choose a healthy lifestyle and a nutritious diet.

My life is boring. I’ll trade with you!

I’d love to have the freedom and resources you have to choose how I live my life.  There’s so much I want to do, experience, and learn.

As you look at your frustrations through the lens of how others view them, your situation starts to look a whole lot better.

The next time you find yourself having adopted an attitude complaining, stop and consider how many people would love to trade places with you.  This thought will likely give you a new perspective on your situation as well as refocus your attitude.

How Not to be Crotchety

I believe that the daily realization and internalization of the following statement will keep you from turning into a crotchety old person, regardless of your age:  Everyone is not like you.

I know that’s obvious, but think about how often you’ve been frustrated or upset because someone:

  • Didn’t respond to something the way you thought they should have.
  • Didn’t say the exact words you wanted to hear
  • Didn’t show the same importance toward something as you thought it warranted.
  • Expressed a thought or idea that didn’t agree with the way you think.

These frustrations occur because we are not all alike.  Our experiences, environments, beliefs, and personalities are all different, which causes each of us to think, speak, act, and prioritize differently.

While we usually applaud our differences, I’ve realized recently that I’ve been allowing these differences to needlessly frustrate me.  With regard to colleagues or my spouse, I’ve allowed these differences to create frustration and impact how I respond to and treat others.  In short, it’s negatively impacted my attitude, and it’s time I change.

I realize that the lens I view situations through is not the same lens that everyone else uses.  In fact, the lenses for viewing the world are as varied as the people who inhabit it.  In light of that reality, how can we any of us expect others to always think and behave just like we do?

When I have the displeasure of meeting crotchety people of any age, there is usually a frustration expressed that the world, or at least their little part of it, is not as they would like it.  There is rigidity to their thinking that is unwilling to consider a different point of view.  They often feel that thinks would be better if everyone else just thought the same way about things as they do.  Not only is their mindset unrealistic, it leads to continued frustration and a negative attitude about the people around them.

I don’t want to be like that.  I’m making the decision to be aware of the differences between my thinking and the thinking of others, and to remove my expectation that others should be thinking the same way I do.  While that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everyone’s way of thinking, it does mean that I don’t have to be frustrated by it or have my attitude adversely impacted.  And that sounds good to me!