By Dr. Carolyn Anderson
I met the most inspiring older woman the other day. After our conversation, I started thinking about the different ways that people deal with adversity. Some people seem to be able to rise above the most difficult of circumstances to shine and lead a productive life and some people seem to fall apart like a cheap watch. What makes the difference?
Our conversation started when she asked me how much I liked being a mother. I told her how much I loved it. How much it had changed my life. She then agreed and told me how much she also loved being a mother. When I asked her how many children she had she looked up at me with incredible warmth and said I only have one NOW. It seems that she had lost a daughter to a car accident and a son to cancer. I told her how sorry I was and expressed the grave difficulty of her situation.
She then looked at me and said, “They are really only loaned to us anyway and will follow their own spiritual journey, I just feel so immensely blessed to have known them and loved them for as long as I did.” She was calm and at peace and leading a productive, meaningful and inspiring life. Her attitude was incredible. As a relatively new mom, I cannot even bring myself to think about or fathom her immense grief. How do you get by that? How do you reconcile that and not become bitter? She was a living example of the power of the positive attitude. Working tirelessly for causes close to her heart and grabbing on to every precious minute.
What is attitude anyway? It is probably best explained as an inner feeling expressed by outer behavior. Your attitude colors every aspect of your life. You can think of attitude as the paintbrush of the mind. It can paint everything bright and beautiful or dark and dreary. You can choose the color scheme you want your life to follow. When we think about the most successful people on the planet (think Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Lance Armstrong, Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffet etc…) they all have incredible attitudes. If you brainstorm all the best qualities of these individuals you will find 80-90% of them to fall under the category of attitude.
In John Maxwell’s book The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset, he lists things that your attitude Can do for you such as:
1) Make a difference in your approach to life
2) Make a difference in your relationships with others
3) Make a difference in your ability to handle challenges.
He also lists things that your attitude cannot do for you…such as
1) It cannot substitute for competence
2) It cannot substitute for experience
3) It cannot change the facts
4) It cannot substitute for personal growth
5) It will not stay good automatically.
Given that our attitude will not stay good automatically I think is important that we are conscious of our attitudes. Your attitude ultimately is shaped by your thoughts. Change your thoughts to the positive and you can change your life for the positive.
About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is the founder of Impowerage. Her mission in life is to empower older adults with the information they need to continue living healthy active lifestyles.