“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” -Charles R. Swindoll
This quote is the for me the heart of the positivity quest. How I approach my relationships, my work, the big changes that are happening around me is the largest single predictor of how the time will play out. Even after 310 days of looking and becoming conscious of my thinking, I am often surprised by the vestiges of doubt or resentment or hurt that color my interpretations. Sometimes I can see it happening but other times they come hidden in some form of judgment.
Judging is how we know right from wrong, it is a behavior that is deeply tied to our personal sense of values, so some judgment is important to hold onto because it is helpful in knowing what we like, what we believe in, what we want to move towards. But where this judgment ends and becomes a bad attitude is a slippery slope. Many times I don’t even see myself sliding down until I am already there.
For me the most challenging judgments, the ones that start looking like a bad attitude quickly are the times when I take liberties at interpreting other people’s behaviors in terms of myself; generally not my most confident aspect of myself. When I feel weakest, my judgments reflect that weakness more than any truth that I am judging.
Spending this last year noticing these times and finding ways to respond to my own weakness or insecurity is a stable pathway for positivity. When I am consistently kind and generous with myself, I can live relatively judgment free and have a much better chance of making something good out of what is happening. Cultivating this attitude gives me pretty good odds of a positive day.