I’m tempted to initiate our conversation by saying, “There are two types of people: ….” Since my plan is to talk about advice and attitudes, I think it will suffice to simply remind us that there are people who ask for advice and those who actually follow it only when the advice we offer is an exact fit with what they wanted to hear. They are usually the same people. Hannah Whitall Smith understood the key to advice giving when she pointed out, “The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.”
If that adequately sets the stage for both of us, let me suggest that attitude matters, and quite often, attitude is all that actually matters. If you doubt the truth of this putative fact of life and living, let me share the perspectives of some other folks who have given a lot of thought to the notion. From there, you can and of course, will draw your own conclusion. In turn, I will remain perfectly indifferent to your personal conclusion and will not persist in trying to set you right.
The first point about attitude is that attitude is nothing more complicated than knowing that we always get to decide what our attitude is today. It’s just a state of mind that we impose on our current situation or circumstance. It works like this.
From Annie Gottlier, we get this. “It’s so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.”
Publius Terentius Afer puts it this way. “There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.”
Leland Val Van de Wall makes the same point like this. “You only have to do something until you want to do it, then you won’t have to do it any more.”
And Samuel Johnson joins in, “He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.”
Stephen Covey, William James, and Norman Vincent Peale all agreed.
“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.”
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.”
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
Personally, I favor this version of attitude is your choice, even though no one seems to know who said it first.
Your life is your garden, Your thoughts are the seeds. If your life isn’t awesome, You’ve been watering the weeds.
No one claims this version either, but I like it.
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
David Ambrose, Arthur Christopher Benson and Helen MacInness also want a turn at the microphone.
“If you have the will to win, you have achieved half your success; if you don’t, you have achieved half your failure.”
“Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.”
“Nothing is interesting if you’re not interested.”
I think I am safe in concluding that the point has been well made: Our attitude is within our control; and either we control it or it controls us, along with controling our future. All that is left are some little tips about a few of those sometimes annoying facts of life that may or may not be important to know. Dare I say that it depends totally on our attitude?
“Whenever you fall, pick something up.” (Oswald Avery)
“We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.” (Unknown)
“The world is full of cactus, but we don’t have to sit on it.” (Will Foley)
“Those who wish to sing, always find a song.” (Swedish Proverb)
“Sometimes life’s Hell. But hey! Whatever gets the marshmallows toasty.” (J Andrew Helt)
I have come to the end but find myself with three dangling tidbits that are begging to be included but don’t quite fit. If you want to stop without them, that works for me. But if you have a few seconds, I think they may be worth taking along with you as you get back to your day. Here you go.
“When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.” (Unknown)
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Ralph Marston gets the final word on this attitude thing. “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” Since that one leaves me thinking, I suspect it may leave you thinking too. “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.”