Thursday, 27 August 2009

What's Your Attitude?

Studies have proven beyond all doubt that optimists live longer, healthier lives than pessimists, even when the pessimist's view of life is more accurate. There are umpteen quotes talking about our our attitudes effects our lives. There are a gazillion books on the subject, two of my personal favourites are Brilliant Attitude by Bob Allwright and Attitude, Aptitude, Altitude by Robyn Simpson.

Yet what is an attitude? The dictionary defines it as "mental view, opinion, posture, pose, disposition, behavior." So is it mental - our thoughts and ideas, is it physical - our actions and physiology or spiritual - our values and beliefs? Well yes, it is all these things tied up in one relatively little word. And it effects our whole lives.

Our attitudes are more important than facts. That is why what we tell ourselves is extremely important and in the long run will shape your destiny. Think back to your time in school. What was your attitude? Did you think that it was worthwhile or a waste of time? How did you behave at school? Where your days filled with laughter or loathing? Did you enjoy learning and growing or often feel like a failure?

Now ask yourself how has that shaped who I am today? We can not go back and change the facts of the past. We can however change our attitude towards the events of both the past and the present, which will then in turn change our future.

I have had the privilege of seeing the power of the mind at work when success coaches have done board breaking exercises with clients, some as young as 7 and 8 years old. This involves just what it sounds like - you get a piece of pine board about 2cm thick and break it with your bare hand. One time stands out in my mind when I was working with a young girl about 14 years old. She was an excellent student and leader and had a strong fear of failure. Her thoughts going into the board break was that it would hurt and cause pain, her focus was on failing - did she break the board? Eventually yes. Only after I changed her attitude to how she wasn't failing when it didn't break, she was just learning how not to do it. Once there was a shift in attitude and focus there was a huge change in results

If our self-talk gives us hope and is positive, we will have very different lives than if we await trouble and think that bad things are always going to happen. You may have heard of the saying "What you see is what you get." Well it's your attitude that determines what you see, so why not look on the bright side. In the long run the choice is yours. My thought for today is just to have a go at seeing life through the eyes of an optimist and just observe what direction your life takes.
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