Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. Romans 12:2
“Your attitude determines your altitude.” John Maxwell
One of the greatest tools at your disposal is your attitude. If you ask someone about mine today, you will hear, “He’s always encouraging,” “He is so positive,” or “He believes the best in people.” I wasn’t always this way. In fact, I am wired to be rather analytical. When I was younger, that led me to be very critical or judgmental. Only after an intensive journey with one of my mentors did I realize that attitude was not productive or even healthy. I had to change my attitude. In doing so I learned the most foundational principle is that I have a choice in seeing things in the positive or negative view.
It sounds so easy…just be positive. That isn’t what I wrote above. Being positive and seeing things in the positive are two different things. Being positive is the result of seeing things as they are and choosing to find positive in them. That requires choice and effort. You will have to make the effort to dig through the moment and find the thread that you can choose to move toward. It isn’t a “pie in the sky” mentality. It is an honest appraisal of where you are in each moment to find the ability to move forward with genuine optimism.
The first place to find the positive is in yourself. When I was child and teenager, it took me a while to grow into my body. I had long legs and big feet. I was given the nickname “Daddy Long Legs” by one of my PE teachers. I always loved athletics but was the guy who worked really hard to be average at sports. I also worked hard in the classroom. I studied, did all my work and got good grades. But…when I compared myself to others on the field or in class, I always fell short. Therein lies the problem…comparison. The greatest step in my journey was when I chose to see myself, with all my inadequacies, as God made me. I accepted those things I wasn’t and ran after the things I am. In choosing the positives about myself, I stopped judging myself. Instead, I began myself to achieve and accomplish the things that I was strongest in each day. Even when I “struck out,” I knew I was moving in the right direction. My attitude is strongest when I believe I am empowered in the gifts and talents God gave me to accomplish his purpose that day.
Secondly, find the positive in situations. We are all facing a lot of challenging situations today. Life is not void of hardships or “curveballs.” I try to look at each situation as a step forward. Even when it feels like I got knocked on my butt, I ask, “What did I learn from that situation?” When I find the answer, I just took a step forward. And when a situation is out of control, finding the positive gives you hope. While on a trip in the Grand Canyon, Kristin and I found ourselves on beach during a strong, lightning storm. Our tent was next to our good friend’s tent. Since we couldn’t evacuate, we were all in our tents riding out the deteriorating conditions. Kristin and Karin would shout back to each other all the positives they could think of during the storm. “We don’t have to worry about bugs,” “I am not hot anymore,” “Glad my tent is water resistant,” and “I haven’t slept in my bathing suit since I was a kid.” Since you are reading this, you know we made it through the storm. And you will too. The key to finding positives in each situation is to slow down the moment to find and focus on the good.
Finally, find the positive in others. This is the most challenging. Why? Because we are human…and humans fail. The challenge is the expectations we put on others. In any interaction, we want them to meet our desired outcome. If it is our spouse, it could be affirmation, tasks, gifts, sex or time. If it is our children, it is their growth, schooling, behavior or accomplishments. Our coworkers in how they deliver in goals, projects and meetings. When out in the world, it is how we are served, taken care of, or treated. In other words, there are a lot of opportunities for people to disappoint us. Let me give you a thought. Find what you connect with in each person. When you do that, you find the positive you can believe and hang onto. Even with the toughest people to like, I can usually find something that is a connection between us. That is my starting point to believing the best in them.
Today is the day of your attitude adjustment. I do it every day. I ask God to give me the ability to do this when I don’t want to. I ask Him to allow me to see the things I don’t naturally see in each of these areas. In return, I am empowered with a positive attitude. If you struggle with this, ask Him to help you. He will…I am positive He will.