1. Having a good attitude is a choice. As such, a person’s state of mind is what that individual makes it. An attitude is nothing more than a habit of thought that is acquired, rather than instinctively. In that regard, individuals can determine only what they will think about or how they will act in response to their circumstances or events. In other words, individuals choose their own attitude - good or bad. A positive attitude typically goes hand-in-hand with positive consequences. Unfortunately, the inverse also is true.
2. Attitude can be changed. People are either the masters of their situations or the victims of their attitudes. Fortunately, attitude is not permanent. It can be transformed, but only if an individual wants to alter his or her state of mind. People who want to have a different attitude must choose to change. All factors considered, individuals are not captives of fate, but rather prisoners of their own minds. They can make their attitudes whatever they want them to be.
3. Attitudes aren’t shaped in a vacuum. All people are born as distinct individuals, with certain characteristics that can affect the attitudes that they hold. In reality, a number of other factors can have an even greater impact on the formation of a person’s attitude, including that individual’s inherent temperament, environment, self-image, physical appearance, family, and success in life.
4. Attitudes can be enhanced by adversity. In reality, most successful people embrace adversity because they understand that it is an essential part of life - one that should be viewed as integral to the ongoing process of self-education. As such, they learn to deal with their failures. They see the positive benefits that can be gained from encountering negative experiences (e.g., becoming more motivated, rethinking the status quo, creating a greater degree of resilience, etc.), all of which can have a positive impact on their attitude.
5. Attitude can determine whether a person is a success or a failure. People are certainly unique. On the other hand, in reality, very little difference exists in most individuals. That little difference, however, can make a big difference. That little difference is a person’s attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative. All factors considered, an individual with a positive mental attitude is much more likely to achieve success and happiness in life than a person whose basic way of looking at everything is grounded in negativity.
6. Attitude affects a person’s relationship with other people. As a rule, individuals like to be around positive people. Positive people exhibit a passion for life that is contagious. Their passion exudes an energy that tends to attract others to them like a magnet. In turn, individuals who harbor and display negative thoughts often are avoided in life by others because of the atmosphere of misery that tends to accompany them.
7. Attitude can affect outcome. It can be argued that life is a series of outcomes. Sometimes, the outcome is what a person wants. Other times, the outcome is not what the individual would prefer. In fact, many endeavors fail or succeed before they even begin. As such, having the right attitude in the beginning of a project can help ensure its success at the end. In that regard, the key is to remember the fact that the old saying, "all’s well that ends well," has a comparable companion truth, "all’s well that begins well."
8. Attitude affects what a person expects from life. All factors considered, the way that individuals approach life is determined by their attitude. Positive people expect more and tend to achieve more. A person’s attitude is a signal to the world what that individual expects from life and whether that expectation likely will be achieved or not.
9. Attitudes can turn problems into opportunities. A person with a positive attitude sees an opportunity in every catastrophe, whereas an individual who harbors negativity tends to see a catastrophe in every opportunity. The key is to make the best of every situation. Positive people respond in a positive way to their circumstances, whatever they might be.
10. Attitude determines who a person is. Individuals with a positive attitude live their lives with passion. They are grateful for what they have. They tend to believe that each moment in life is an asset to be treasured, rather than wasted. They understand that life is more than something that is going on around them. To them, life is what they choose to make it.
James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.
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