Olympic gold medallist Scott Hamilton has said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” It’s true. Nothing will hinder or handicap you in life as severely as a bad attitude. But with a positive attitude, you can fly high. The word attitude refers to the system of thoughts, the mental posture, the mindset, or the way of thinking with which a person approaches life.
All of us have the privilege and responsibility of choosing our attitudes, no matter what circumstances or situations we find ourselves in. The keyword here is choosing. Attitudes don’t just happen; they are the products of our choices. Over time, the thought patterns established in our minds can put us on “autopilot,” which means that when certain types of situations occur, we are pre-programmed to think about them in certain ways. We have to interrupt this autopilot function and learn to stop our minds from going in the directions they have gone for years if that direction is not producing good things in our lives.
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson
An Attitude Adjustment
Winston Churchill noted that “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” All of us need “attitude adjustments” at times, and an attitude adjustment is the result of changing the way we think. You may have heard the saying: “Your attitude determines your altitude.” In other words, a positive attitude will cause you to “fly high” in life, while a negative attitude will keep you down.
One of the worst mistakes we can make in our thinking is to believe we are just not like those positive people and we can’t help it. If you think you can’t do anything about your thinking and attitude then you’re defeated before you even begin to try. No matter what difficulty you encounter, maintaining the right attitude will be much easier than regaining the right attitude.
Just as pilots have certain rules to follow to keep planes oriented, with the right attitudes and altitudes, here are four rules you can follow in life to help keep your attitude positive so you can keep your “altitude” where it should be. As soon as you sense your attitude losing altitude, make an adjustment.
Rule #1: Maintain the Positive Attitude When the Going Gets Rough
No matter what happens to you, determine to go through it with the right attitude. In fact, determine beforehand that you will keep a positive attitude in the midst of every negative situation that presents itself to you. If you make this decision and meditate on it during a good time in your life, then when difficulty arises you will already be prepared to maintain a good attitude.
For example, if an unexpected bill or major repair presents itself to you, make up your mind that you will not complain because you have to tighten your belt financially for a few months to make up for it. Instead, look at the challenge as an adventure and decide you will find creative ways to cut costs for a while and look for ways to enjoy life without spending money. There are so many real-life examples of how God helps people who keep a good attitude in challenging times. One couple was struggling financially but they were also determined to keep a good, positive, and thankful attitude.
The man, who we will call John, worked in a restaurant and one day a customer had a heart attack while eating lunch there. John had some medical training from being in the armed forces and was able to administer CPR to keep the man breathing and his heart beating until the paramedics arrived. As it turned out, the man whose life was saved happened to be very wealthy and in appreciation, he gave John a check for five thousand dollars as a way of saying, “Thank you for saving my life.” The good attitude the couple maintained in their financial struggle opened the door for God to work miraculously in their lives.
Rule #2: Realize the Rough Times Will Pass Soon
There are many people who live in parts of the world where there are four distinct seasons talk about how much they enjoy winter, spring, summer, and fall. They like the variety and the unique beauty, qualities, and opportunities of each season. Seasons change; this is true in the natural world and it is true in regard to the seasons of our lives. It means that difficult times will also pass soon. We may have “off” days, tough weeks, bad months, or even a year that seems to have more than its share of troubles, but every negative experience does come to an end.
Some of the trying situations we find ourselves in seem to go on far too long. When this happens, we are usually tempted to complain or become discouraged. Instead, we need to promptly adjust our attitudes and ask God to teach us something valuable as we press through the situation at hand.
If you are going through a difficult time right now, this probably isn’t the first challenge you’ve ever faced. You survived the last one (and probably learned some valuable lessons through it) and you will survive this one too.
Rule #3: Avoid Major Decisions During A Storm
No one has smooth life like a long sunny day. At some point, we all face storms—whether they come in the form of unexpected illness, job loss, financial crisis, marital difficulties, problems with children, or any number of other scenarios that are stressful, intense, and important. When the storms of life arise, it’s best to keep your mind and emotions as still as possible. Thoughts and feelings often run wild in the midst of crises, but those are exactly the times we need to be careful about making decisions. We must remain calm and discipline ourselves to focus on doing what we can do and trusting God to do what we cannot do.
Just as a pilot’s bad decision can cause a plane to be diverted from its intended destination or even to make a dangerous emergency landing, a bad decision can divert or delay you from reaching your destiny. Next time you face a storm or crisis in your life, remember these words: “Let emotions subside before you decide.” Do your best to let things settle down before you make major decisions. You may not always have that choice, but as much as possible, put significant decisions on hold until your storm passes. Just as the wind blows about wildly during a storm, our thoughts can become quite wild and frantic, and that is not the best time to make major decisions.
Rule #4: Be in Touch with the “Control Tower”
Air traffic controllers are the only people on Earth who can see the “big picture” of what’s going on in the sky and who have the knowledge and authority to tell planes to slow down or speed up, fly higher or fly lower, avoid or navigate through storms, or take alternate routes to their destinations. Interestingly, air traffic controllers manage not only commercial flights, but also private aviation, military, and cargo air traffic, as well as air taxis. With so many flights taking off and landing each day, pilots have to stay in touch with the control towers if they want to make safe, on-time flights.
Just as airplane pilots must maintain contact with air traffic control towers, we must stay in touch with God—the one who sees the big picture of our lives and who orchestrates everything that involves us. He makes sure everything that needs to happen in our lives happens at the right time, moves at the appropriate speed, and causes us to arrive safely at the “destinations” He has planned for us.
If we want to stay on track with God and do so with a good attitude, we have to make communication with Him a priority in our daily schedules. He will help you navigate the ups and downs of life, and find your way through the “cloudy” days when you can’t seem to see the next step you need to take. (Inspired from ‘Power Thoughts’ by Joyce Meyer).