ABCs of Life: A is for Attitude

Wooden alphabet based on author's original font.  "A"

A probably doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you. It’s no secret that your attitude can determine some of the events in your life–successes, failures, relationships…. The list could go on forever, so I thought it was fitting to begin with this one.

A couple of weeks ago, I read this amazing post by Tim Brownson about his thoughts on cause and effect. He felt that it really is cause-interpret-effectI must say that I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment. How we choose to interpret a situation can determine our unhappiness about it. So I’ve tried it myself recently. Here’s an example. In the classroom, I can get upset with my students for talking too much, but am I really listening to what they are saying or am I just disgruntled because there is noise? If I change my attitude and look at how I can interpret the situation positively, I will hear that some of them are making jokes about life that tie directly into the myths that we are currently reading. Some of them are discussing the homework we have for the day. Others are discussing the quiz that they took over the story. They are all doing what I want them to do which is tying the myth to life in some way. Why should I get upset with that? Isn’t learning and expression more important than a silent classroom?

Changing your attitude requires you to look at your interpretation of a situation in your life. It takes work to look at things differently after years of getting upset, being annoyed, or stressing over life. Pause and reflect for a moment when you feel that knot in your gut or that when that stress headache begins to build. Why do you feel this way? What specifically is causing this physical manifestation within your body? How can you change your attitude about it?

Here is a somewhat dark example. My mother’s family has been riddled with cancer since I can remember. Lung cancer. Colon cancer. Throat cancer. Kevin. Pat. Denny. Grandma. Grandpa. Nana. These were all extremely sad events, but my family’s interpretation of the their deaths is a celebration of their lives with childhood stories, music, and laughing.

Tell yourself today that you are going to change your attitude by looking at how you interpret the events in your life. Will you continue to be angry, upset, or stressed about a few things? Of course. But the number of times you become upset can decrease when you learn to interpret things differently, causing your overall stress to decrease. It takes work. It’s not going to be an overnight success, but you will get used to it. Good luck!

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