Algorithms For Life

Attitude vs. Circumstance. Who wins?

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at·ti·tude

n.
a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

-Google

A few year back I undertook an assignment that put me out in the field daily. My territory consisted of a small geographic area, so I spent a lot of time in particular neighborhoods. On the main byway, I would often see a couple traveling up and down the road. Without automobile and often in the least desirable weather conditions, like clockwork, they would appear. There was something so distinct about their presence. It seemed as though they were always deep in conversation, laughing as though no one else existed. To this day I can still see those big grins on their faces. I love to see genuinely happy people so I found it enjoyable, but something about it was very intriguing.

Is it about what you have?

Today, happiness is thought to be a result based on an outcome. People often associate it with ideal circumstances, good health and being attractive.

By all outward appearances, it may seem as though this is true.

As you drive down a street with homes of the wealthy you see the well-manicured yards, nice cars and the beauty of the home itself. Are the people inside automatically happier because of these circumstances? By the same token, does a drive through an economically challenged area mean that the people must suffer from misery? Fortunately, happiness doesn’t depend on wealth or possessions.

Human nature indicates that having our needs met consistently contributes to satisfaction. We crave stability. Circumstances, however, are not always desirable. This is where attitude makes a difference.

When things go wrong.

ScenarioIt’s Friday night and you have been looking forward to this weekend since Monday morning. You decide to have a family outing. A movie and dinner afterward sound like a relaxing evening. Everyone is settled in, popcorn and all. The movie is just about to start when you receive a text to call your manager right away. Reluctantly you return his call only to hear that something big has went down at work. A critical mistake has been made. He is obviously upset, his tone alone is causing the stress inside of you to escalate. He says it can wait until tomorrow but he needs everyone in the department including you to come in tomorrow to help with damage control. It doesn’t need your attention until tomorrow, but now you are upset. What would you do?

  1. Storm back into the theater, tell your family you all have to go. Drive home angrily grumbling about how much you hate your job and wish you could quit. Retreat to your room alone, stewing about tomorrow morning, spending the rest of the weekend upset that it was interrupted.
  2. Take a moment. Gather your thoughts. This is nuts! Okay, but I know mistakes happen. Right now I’m going to relax and enjoy this time with my family. It’s going to be a busy weekend.   

It’s true b. might seem idealistic. Consider this, though, does your choice of response (attitude), change whether or not you have to go in tomorrow? Which attitude is likely to contribute to a lack of sleep? Arguments? Rash decisions? Which choice allows you to enjoy what time you do have left this weekend? What will it teach your children? How to cope or unravel?

What do you think, does attitude make a difference?

 

Let’s take it a step further. Life takes another unpredictable turn.

On your way to work the next morning you get in a traffic accident and subsequently pass away.

Unbeknownst to you, Friday night was the last memory that your family would ever have of you. What do you think now?

 

Does attitude make a difference?

 

Life doesn’t always allow us to pick our circumstances. Good things happen to us and so do bad. We get excited in favorable times and work hard to get through the rest. The danger is that there are times when we minimize the impact or value of a moment. It is important to remember that unlike circumstance, our attitude is a choice. The choice to be positive will always produce the best results. Being positive is not to be confused with being delusional and unrealistic. Positivity is being of good quality, even in the face of hardship. 

 

How can we have a good attitude?

 

Be the Slinky– When life takes an unexpected turn don’t get too bent out of sorts.  By developing the art of resilience, you can bounce back. Understand that life goes perfectly for No one, not one single person alive, rich or poor. EVER! Everyone makes mistakes or suffers trial. Learn from the situation and make improvent where possible.

 

Be the Binoculars– Focus on the positive aspects of life. When life is going good, enjoy it. Resist the urge to think, “its going good, that means something bad is coming.”Keep the right perspective. Don’t feel as though you are the only one to experience hardship. Sometimes the biggest challenges we face put us in a better position than when we began.  

 

Be the Bank– Practice giving and be generous. Giving freely promotes happiness. Give love and attention to those who deserve it. Give kindness, even to those who anger you. Use the problems you face as a means to help someone else. 

 

The couple at the outset…

What was so intriguing about my cute little smiley couple? At first glance, it was easy to see that their circumstances were not ideal. They both suffered from severe disabilities. They were both born without proper limbs which had to mean that life wasn’t always easy. In fact,  navigating up the street looked pretty difficult. It was apparent that they didn’t possess an abundance of material wealth. Interestingly, none of that seemed to matter. On the several occasions that I had the privilege of observing them it was without question that of the qualities that they did possess, a good attitude was one. Even though I was only a passerby, the message that they sent was bigger than they probably ever imagined….

Attitude most definitely trumps circumstance.

Note to self: If you ever see this couple again tell them.


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