It seems the word “Attitude” has a bad rap. It’s kind of like the word “Diet”, we tend to get this negative connotation when in fact everyone has some sort of diet and everyone has some sort of attitude. It’s easy to have a good attitude when things are going good. But what about when things aren’t going well, are we doomed to have the cloud of pessimism following us around until things improve?

Isn’t it amazing how our attitude can totally change, for better or worse, the way we feel about a particular experience?  For example, if we are in a bad mood we may take everything our spouse says as a personal attack. We may not even notice that our child is lovingly smiling up at us waiting for a hug. We only see the mess our toddler made and not the carefully painted picture they made for us. We don’t see the beautiful sunshine or wonderful fall leaves. Why is this? Why does a bad mood make everything seem so negative?

Well, my theory is that when we are in a bad mood we are thinking about one person, ourselves.  We are so focused inward that we have blinders on to everything around us.  Thus our feelings are stuck on our own problems and own negativity. The very opposite occurs when we are have a positive attitude. We focus outward. We see, we hear, we experience things from a more holistic and complete approach because we are seeing a bigger picture. We serve because we can see needs beyond ourselves and thus we gain added joy from that service.

These phenomena could be compared to taking a picture. We could just take a picture of the grape jelly stain on the white table cloth. If we do that, we will only see the stain and we won’t have a positive outlook for that poor table. But what if we were to zoom out a bit and take a picture of the entire table. Well, then we might see that the table is made of a beautiful marble or hardwood, that it is set with a seemingly perfect (from this larger view) white table cloth and a beautiful centerpiece of a Thanksgiving cornucopia, which is surrounded by all the lovely and delicious fixings for a Thanksgiving feast. Would our view and thoughts of this table change now? Would we be seeing it in a more positive light?

Well just like the focus of the lens on a camera, we have the power to choose how we are going to look at things and experiences. One of my favorite quotes of late is “We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.” by Thomas S. Monson. We are not a victim of circumstance, we can choose how we will look at and see each aspect of our lives. Is this easy? No, no one ever said it would be, or should be. It’s part of our life’s journey and our duty to learn self-mastery.

If we choose to look at every experience as an opportunity, rather than bad luck or punishment, we will begin to notice two things. First, that nothing is ever as bad as it seems. Secondly, that even when things are bad, there is always something you can learn that will make us better off in the end.

So why not try it? Instead of thinking “Why me?” or “Poor me.”, let’s try thinking, “What can I learn?” and “What CAN I DO?” If you can’t change the situation, you can always change your attitude.

So, what has helped you face challenges with optimism? Have you ever seen a situation in which you could see how a more positive attitude would improve it?


Change Your Mood

We all have our good days and bad days. Here are some great tips to help you instantly improve those bad ones!

  1. Breathe! Oxygen is not only a necessity of life, but a lack of it can cause fatigue, soreness, and lack of concentration…enough to make anyone crabby! So take a deep breathe as you count to 3 and lift up your arms above your head to allow your lungs maximum capacity. A better functioning body is a happier body!
  2. Get Moving! Exercise is a proven mood regulator, it releases endorphins into your system to produce a feeling of well-being. The ideal would be 30 minutes of moderate exercise, something that makes you sweat and breathe hard. But even a few minutes of brisk walking, jumping jacks, swimming, etc. will help you feel much better.
  3. Nourish your Body! Water, water, water! Dehydration can lead to a lower ability for all parts of your body and mind to function, not to mention headaches and concentration issues. Also, when we don’t eat on a regular basis our body not only stores more calories which can lead to weight gain but we also get crabbier because our body is fighting against us. Make your body your ally and nourish it properly and regularly.
  4. Change your Company! If you are around negative, draining people you are much more likely to feel negative and drained. Choosing to be around happy, optimistic people will make it much easier to stay happy and optimistic yourself.
  5. Feed your Spirit! Religious or not, studies have shown that those that create a strong spiritual awareness in their lives are generally happier. If you do practice a religion, prayer and scripture reading will help put you back in alignment. If you do not consider yourself religious then find some time to meditate, enjoy nature, listen to soothing music, and/or read poetry.
  6. Be Grateful! When we recognize all that we have, especially during hard times, it helps us realize that nothing is as bad as it seems. Make a list of all that you have to be grateful for and put it somewhere that you can see it every day.
  7. Affirm yourself! Think of a talent you possess or something recently that you did very well. Tell yourself at least 5 positive things about yourself. It would be great to make a list of these too and put them next to your gratitude list.

All in all, let us remember that we always have a choice. At times this may take monumental effort and of course there are times when allowing ourselves to experience negative emotions, especially during times of mourning, are necessary and part of our recovery process. But no matter the circumstances, outside stimuli does not create our thinking or moods, we do. So if you’re having a bad day, you can also choose to have a good one instead.