Our attitude is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, influence of how we approach life and respond to situations. Attitude is defined as a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something. We have many attitudes. Attitudes about the foods we like, the activities we do, and even about ourselves. These attitudes then impact how we decide to approach life. Though attitudes are settled and become habitual over time, they are not unchangeable. In fact, if you dedicate yourself to changing your attitude about something, you can slowly re-wire your mind to more consistently think in this new way.
The great American Philosopher, William James, wrote “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of the mind.” This is an incredibly powerful skill to realize, understand, and implement. If you are someone who currently struggles through life by having a negative attitude about yourself or about your situation, it’s time to consider whether you might benefit from tweaking your belief system. Tweaking your belief system can be done in two ways:
1) Gain new experiences
Sometimes we have attitudes that our based on the past and, unlike our iPhone’s, they do not automatically update every night. We have to stretch our comfort zones to acquire new beliefs about life. For instance, I never thought I would ever like guacamole, however, one day in Telluride, Colorado I tried it…I’ve loved it ever since. Sometimes we need to try new things and put ourselves out there to experience an update in attitude.
2) Hi-jack your brain
As described in the definition, attitudes are settled into our brains. Much like a 4-lane, concrete highway our attitudes are smooth, fast, and accessible. Thinking in a new way requires forcing yourself to take an alternative route. These new routes are bumpy at first and the tendency is to want to get back on that smooth, 4-lane highway. However, in order to update your attitude, you have to prove that this new, alternative route is the better route. Over time, it’ll get more use and eventually it becomes the fastest route to take. So, in order to change your attitude, you have to constantly engage in your new way of thinking before it becomes habit. Be aware of your old attitude, and any time it shows up, identify it and replace it with the new attitude.
In closing, I’d like to reiterate that each one of us can decide how we want to view life. It takes effort and time to adopt a new way of thinking, but it can be done, and it’s our choice.
“We each have a choice: to approach life as a creator or a critic, a lover or a hater, a giver or a taker.” – Unknown