By: Gary L. Hutchens
Attitude! We all have one. It’s often difficult for us to see our own, but it’s obvious to everyone else. We often deny ours while pointing out everyone else’s. It can be either positive or negative, the source of encouragement or discouragement, produce joy or anger, lead to our own fulfillment or despair. It can be as elusive as the wind and as powerful as dynamite.
Our attitude is the lens through which we look at others and life around us. It’s a pre-disposition that we form in our mind, often without realizing it, a mindset that directs our response toward someone or something. Just as the lenses in our eyeglasses directly affect the images we see, so our attitude affects the images we see of others and of life in general. As such, our attitude has a powerful effect on what we think, what we do and how we live. If we can control our attitude in a positive way, we will find our life happier and more productive. The key question is, of course, how can we control our attitude for good?
First, we must recognize that each of us has an attitude. It’s a fact of life. Many people go around denying that they have an attitude, while continually showing it in the process of their denial. We go to somebody’s home for dinner. They set the table with a variety of green vegetables. We hate green vegetables! We haven’t tasted theirs, but it automatically elicits a negative response within us because it’s green, and we don’t like anything green.
It’s virtually impossible to not have an attitude. It’s the filter through which we analyze everyone and everything that confronts us. The first step in turning our attitude around and making it productive is to admit that it’s there. Only then can we recognize how it affects us.
Second, we must make up our mind that our attitude is going to be pro-active rather than reactive. If an athlete can make his opponent do what he wants him to do, he’ll have a better chance of being successful against him. In order for that to happen, he has to take action that will force his opponent to react in the way he wants him to react. Otherwise, he’ll find himself reacting in a way his opponent wants him to do and end up on the losing end as a result.
We have to make up our mind that we will develop an attitude that will help us live more effective lives. We will not allow the actions of others, or events around us, to dictate how we will think about things. We cannot allow things or other people to make us have a negative or unhappy outlook on life in general, not even for one day or one hour! As long as we keep our head straight, we can influence things to develop more productively for us. This process is not easy; it takes thoughtfulness, concentration and determination. Self discipline!
Finally, but most important, we must turn our will over to God. We must ask Him to guide our life in His wisdom, and then step aside and let Him do it. We must realize that He is wiser than we are and be humble enough to surrender to His will. Regular Bible study and prayer will be tremendous aids in this regard (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But we also need to live active lives in service to the Lord. I suspect that many souls will end up in Hell for eternity, at least partly because of bad attitudes. If we can learn how to make it so, our attitude can become a powerful ally to help us live more satisfying lives, rather than being a nemesis that keeps us down in the mouth...
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Gary L. Hutchens