January 29 “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” (William James)
Every so often it happens to all of us, even the most upbeat and optimistic few. Sometimes a person just gets up on the wrong side of the bed. There are days when our attitudes are just poor
When those days come along for me it is not fun. Every little thing bothers me. From the weather, to other drivers on the road, you name it. I have had mornings where I found myself swearing – out loud – in my car, when there was only me there to hear it. Perceived slights by those around me setting of a mini-tirade. I have been behind someone in line for coffee and silently cursed their inability to get their life together enough to actually know what they want, and have means to purchase it handy. Yup those are not nice mornings. When I worked in a team room, where I could see every other person, and they me, my coworkers could probably tell in an instant how my morning was going. I don’t tend to be a person who keeps feelings under wraps.
The thing about days like those is that when they come along, I can usually not point to anything that has happened to incite them.
I have come to understand that what William James is saying is most definitely true. If I let my attitude just wander around, then that is what happens to my life. Some days are good, some days are bad, but generally I am just wandering. It is when I take control of my attitude, and intentionally decide that it will be in the right direction, that my life heads in that direction as well.
This is not to say that I am faking my moods. My mood is the product of the sum total of all my emotions, and it can be affected by forces well outside my control. What I am talking about is taking control of my reaction to my mood. I can feel blue, or even mildly depressed, but I can choose an attitude that says that I am going to rise above this mood, and put myself in a place where I can be effective and successful.
When I choose my attitude well, then I don’t mind if someone slides in front of me in traffic. And, when that sweet person in front of me is indecisive and can’t find their change, it gives me a chance to enjoy the warmth of the coffee shop, and take in the aroma of the fresh brewed coffee a little longer.
Today my reflection is a reminder. It is a reminder to choose well what my attitude will be for a day, and then to carry out my day with that attitude well fixed. In doing so, I get to intentionally set the course of my life.