Do you struggle with mornings? Ask the average person how they’re doing in the morning and a common answer will be “Not bad under the circumstances”. Another typical answer is “I don’t know, its to early to tell”. These are some of the saddest words I hear and it breaks my heart for people displaying this type of attitude.
Their answers tell me that these people live their lives with their attitude totally tied to outside circumstances. Common attitude drivers are Mondays, traffic, weather, the economy, Fridays, and the list goes on. One common theme with this list is that for the most part, we as humans have no control and yet the average person allows these simple elements to dictate their mood and ultimately their life.
Attitude is a choice that comes from within. It should not based on outside circumstances…especially those beyond your control. Life will throw curve balls and bad things do happen to good people, and yet you always have a choice in how you respond. The moment you blame your situation on outside circumstances, you give away your power to effect change for the positive…regardless of the situation.
So what do you do when life throws the inevitable sucker punch? Perspective and gratitude are two powerful weapons you can use to battle any negative situation you might find yourself in. One of my favorite quotes by my mentor Andy Andrews from his book, The Traveler’s Gift is:
“It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take route in a thankful heart”.
Perspective and gratitude are acquired skills that can change any apparent negative situation to the positive if you’re willing to be disciplined in choosing how you think.
The following are some common situations that the average person might view as negative, and yet with a little perspective and gratitude and a shift in thinking, these can be turned around 180 degrees:
- You have a thirty to sixty minute commute to and from your work each day. The average person might complain and yet you could focus on the positive that you have a great job that provides for your family. Not everyone has a stable income.
- As an addition to the latter, you could use this time each day for self-directed education through audio programs in your car. Thirty minutes morning and afternoon repeated five days a week for fifty weeks equates to 6.25 forty hour “work weeks” of education. What could you do with the time invested in making you better in any area of your life?
- You need to have your car serviced including purchasing a new set of tires which will ultimately cost you hundreds of dollars. The average person might complain and yet you could focus on the fact that you have a reliable source of transportation and the $ to maintain it which ultimately allows you to do your job and take care of your family.
- You need to have the roof of your home repaired due to a little storm damage. The average person might complain and yet you could focus on the fact that you have a home for your family. Not everyone does. People around the globe will go to bed tonight without a solid roof over their head.
- You need to have some repairs done to the plumbing in your home. The average person might complain and yet you could focus on the fact that you have running water that is clean and always available. Not everyone does. Some people in the more rural areas of the world rely on daily water deliveries where they are getting their share with random buckets and tubs.
- Do you utilize air travel for pleasure? Do you enjoy the hassle of air travel in these days of heightened security? The average person might complain about the conditions at most major airports and yet you could focus on the fact that you’re blessed to have the finances to utilize the airlines to leverage your family’s fun time potentially stretching around the globe. Not everyone has this ability due to their limited finances.
- Pants fitting a little tight lately? The average person might complain about the need to lose weight and yet you focus on the fact that you have plenty of good foot to eat. Not everyone does. Millions of people around the world will go to bed tonight hungry.
- Men…are you staring at a long list of “honey do’s” for this weekend? The average guy might complain and yet you could focus on the fact that you have a wife who loves you. Not every man does. There are thousands of single males still looking for Mrs. Right or thousands more marriages that end in divorce each day.
- Women…do you get tired of picking up after your kids? The average woman might complain and yet you focus on the fact that you have a family with children that you desperately love. Not every couple can have children and would give anything to change their circumstances by trading places with you.
- Are you in good health? Just this year I have had two close friends go through hip replacement surgery, one have knee replacement surgery, one go through chemo for cancer, another had a heart transplant, and finally the daughter of one of my clients was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. The point is that most people take their good health for granted when it should be considered a major gift from the Lord because not everyone is so fortunate.
Gratitude is the key ingredient in giving you the needed perspective to maintain a positive outlook in virtually all circumstances. I’ve seen numerous methods offered by some very successful people for cultivating an attitude of gratitude. The following is from one of my mentors, Darren Hardy, and I think it is one of the best methods ever.
Darren Hardy who is the Editor of Success Magazine, shares in his amazing book, The Compound Effect, a personal experience where he used the power of gratitude to dramatically affect his marriage for the positive. Darren is a huge fan of Thanksgiving and used this special holiday to present his wife Georgia with a gift created over the course of the previous year.
Darren kept a daily journal where he recorded everything she did that he was “grateful” for. Over a period of time, he noticed a big change in how he viewed his wife. Since his focus was on looking for things to be grateful for, all his energy was poured in that direction.
Remember, what you give attention, focus, and energy too, you manifest in your life. If you choose to focus on the positive, you will find yourself surrounded by positive. Focus on the negative, and the results work the same. By focusing on the positive in Georgia, Darren’s love and appreciation for her grew like never before in their marriage and it made for a magical year.
Finally after one year of tracking the good in his wife, Darren presented Georgia with the journal as a special surprise. She cried and said it was the best gift he had ever given her.
What person or situation could you apply this same principle too? Do you struggle with your job? Keep a journal of all the positive things your job gives you for a month and I promise that your attitude will change for the better. Do you have a family member or friend where the relationship is strained and you sincerely desire to make it better? This little strategy could work wonders for you.
Take home point for my readers:
Life is hard and anyone who tells you different has lost touch with reality. You do however ALWAYS have a choice in how you respond to challenging situations and gratitude and perspective can go a long way in helping you weather life’s storms.
My personal standard for dealing with life’s curve balls is based on the following verse from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
Comfort in Suffering
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
What this verse means to me is that we go through life’s struggles only to be better prepared to help someone else down the road either avoid the same struggle or perhaps get through it with less pain and suffering.
This standard for me means that no matter how difficult the situation, there is always this silver lining for me to hold on to. And if it is the only silver lining, at least it gives me something positive to focus on rather than being potentially overwhelmed with negative. With this attitude it is far easier to focus on the solution and move forward to a resolution.
Best of luck in your journey.