How to Adjust Your Attitude

A strong positive mental attitude will
create more miracles than any wonder drug.

– Patricia Neal, American actress

How does your attitude meter read?

Do you generally have a good attitude towards life, expecting the best and tossing aside the garbage that inevitably comes hurling your way?  Or – are you a grump and a complainer, expecting the worst and getting it?  Do you often feel a sense of lightness and possibility or – do you feel as though you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, always shoving the bolder up hill and unable to let go of the slights, hurts and guilt that seem to pound you from every direction?

Does your attitude really matter?  Does anyone really care?

Here’s a news alert!  Your attitude impacts every single human being with whom you come in contact and creates the results you want or… don’t want.

This doesn’t even begin to address how your attitude affects what opportunities appear or don’t appear in your life.  In truth, it is your attitude that creates the frame for living an exceptional life.  So, if I can give you one gift to launch you into the New Year, it will be the ability to adjust your attitude and the awareness of when you need to do it.

Firstly, I want to encourage you to embrace that your attitude has everything to do with your happiness, joy and success.  Secondly, I want you to see clearly that your attitude is a choice, and lastly, I want to coach you to give yourself an attitude adjustment – when you most need it.

I am fully aware that these last few years have been a challenge to millions of individuals, me and my family included.  Yet, I have also witnessed unexpected and inspiring reactions to the most unpleasant of circumstances.


Adjust Your Attitude

You can choose to adjust your attitude and live with hope, joy and positive expectancy. I have helped people do this for over four decades.


How can that be?  Why doesn’t everyone get depressed, despondent, angry, and hopeless or lash out at others when confronted with outrageously negative circumstances?  I believe we might shed some light on the answer to this question with a brief examination of – aviation.

When flying an aircraft, the pilot watches an instrument called an “attitude indicator”.  Its job is to inform the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to the earth or the plane’s relation to the earth’s horizon.  An incorrect attitude spells tragedy and a correct attitude means a successful journey to the desired destination.  The same holds true for you and, like a pilot, you either adjust your attitude to insure success or ignore it at your peril.  You just have to learn to pay attention.

It’s inevitable that negative life circumstances will come your way but your attitude towards those circumstances almost always affects you more than the issues themselves.  One of my great heroes, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, Austrian neurologist, author, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, put it this way about having lived in horrific circumstances: “What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life.  We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”

Which brings me to my second point – attitude is a choice.  Let me tell you a brief, fortuitous and totally true story that happened nine years ago.  I was waiting in the examination room to be seen by my cardiologist.  Not being one to waste time, I was jotting down some thoughts for this article as Dr. Steve Kunkus walked in.  Noticing my notes scattered about he asked, “What are you writing?”  “An article on attitude,” I responded.  “You know that attitude is a choice,” he stated emphatically.  “Oh, yes, I certainly do,” I said with a big smile on my face.

I felt like I had won the validation lottery.  I also know that not everyone wants to accept the fact that attitude is a choice because it is far easier to blame other people and circumstances for your negative plight.  But, the reality is, like personal cleanliness, your attitude in relation to your circumstance is a personal matter that only you can take care of.


Is There a Payoff for Adjusting Your Attitude?

What’s the real payoff for choosing an upbeat, positive attitude in response to challenging circumstances?  The payoff could be your life.  When I was in the ICU following my aortic valve replacement, I interviewed three senior full-time nurses who gave me three independent but identical observations.  Each agreed that they had witnessed numerous patients whose healing corresponded directly to their attitude.  The more positive the attitude, the fewer complications, the more rapidly the patient healed and in many cases – lived.  The more negative the patients’ attitude – well – you can guess.

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet

Do you need yet another reason to convince you to choose a positive attitude?  How about this:  By choosing to have a negative, lousy, doom-and-gloom attitude you are actually choosing to keep yourself isolated by pushing others away.  I mean, really, who wants to hang out with a “life diminisher”?  Does that sound too harsh?  I think not.

But here’s the good news.  By choosing to have a positive attitude of love and possibility you become a “life enhancer,” attracting the same to you.  Accept it or not, that’s the way life works.  Your attitude is like the positive “push” or “pull” of a magnet.

Your attitude is also judged very quickly by others.  If you radiate confidence, curiosity and caring, you are going to get one result.  If you put out anger, resentment, jealousy and fear, you are going to get a totally different result.  As the great inspirational speaker Zig Ziglar told me years ago, “When you choose to be pleasant and positive in the way you treat others, you have also chosen, in most cases, how you are going to be treated by others.”

Your response to any circumstance is your responsibility and therefore you are accountable for it because you have the ability to respond to anything that comes your way in a positive manner.  The skill to respond in a positive manner gives you a type of immunity to ward off the effect of a negative circumstance or unknowingly putting a negative person in the driver’s seat.

Rather than become a victim, you can choose to remain in charge and become the victor in both your work life and your home life.  Learn to walk into any situation, relationship, project or the workplace with a positive mindset and the world will see you as you see the world.  You will discover that your attitude will determine your action.

So, what is your attitude for the future going to be?  People decide what they think of you based on – how you treat others, how grateful you are, how you talk to your peers and how you respond to authority. You do teach people how to treat you.  So, how are you going to teach in the New Year, through fear or love?


Tips To Help You Adjust Your Attitude

Here are a few tips that will help you adjust your attitude to live the most exceptional life possible.

– Choose to live with an attitude of hope, joy and positive expectancy.

– Choose to take your attention off yourself and serve others.

– Visualize a realistic, emotionally based, exciting, positive goal that you can attain within six months and take action – today!

– Be grateful for what you have.  It is absolutely impossible to be grateful and despondent at the same time.  Write down three things you are grateful for every evening before going to sleep.

– Surround yourself with people that reflect a positive attitude.  Make a list of those who suck your joy dry and clean out your relationship house.

– Focus on what makes you feel good.

– Keep your sense of humor.  You will keep a positive attitude when you learn to laugh, especially at yourself.

Choose to believe that you are in charge of your destiny and that achieving your dreams is still possible.  You can choose to live with an attitude of hope, joy and positive expectancy.  I happen to know that this is true because I’ve helped people do just that for over four decades.




James Mapes is the best-selling author of Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind and IMAGINE THAT!: Igniting Your Brain for Creativity and Peak Performance.