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“Attitude: Take Advantage of Your Forty Percent”

March 4, 2019

“Attitude: Take Advantage of Your Forty Percent”

by Kathleen Vestal Logan, MS, MA
 
Life is always challenging, sometimes overwhelming, and, like most women, you probably struggle sometimes to deal with problems that pop up. How best can you cope with them? One of the most important tools you have is your attitude, the outlook with which you face the world. Many people are convinced that their experiences determine their attitude. (“My friend cancelled the lunch we’ve had planned for a month and it ruined my day!”) Surprise, however, the opposite is true—your attitude determines how you respond to your experiences. (You might think, for example, “Too bad, but now I have extra time to read my book.”)

Some common questions about attitude include: Is having a positive or negative one genetic? Is it hard to change a person’s attitude? The short answer to both questions is yes. You know people who seem to be perennially positive (my husband, for example), and others (like me) who seem to have a more negative predisposition. The most common theory in the scientific community is that both nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) make significant contributions to our attitude.

According to psychologist Ed Diener, our capacity for happiness has a “baseline” measure with some people having a natural tendency to be cheerier than others. I’ve read, too, that about half of that baseline is genetic. What about the other 50%, then?  The good news is that only 10% of our attitude is due to our circumstances or environment (those things that happen to us), leaving about 40% totally within our control. I always thought that my husband was just born with a brighter disposition than I was. Now, I believe that he has a higher baseline than I do, but I also know that he deliberately, consciously, chooses to use his 40% to look for what’s right and good in whatever happens. My baseline hasn’t changed over the years, but I, too, have learned how to take full advantage of the 40% that is in my control.

Why is your attitude so important?   A positive one best equips you to deal with your issues productively. That doesn’t mean being a “Pollyanna,” but it does put you in a better frame of mind to solve problems rather than feel victimized. It also helps you bounce back quicker. Studies suggest, for example, that cardiac patients with a positive attitude recover from surgery significantly better than those with a negative one. The mind-body connection is real.

Besides the impact on your physical health, there are other costs to a negative attitude. Your energy level decreases; people avoid you so you won’t drag them down, too; you’re more likely to overlook opportunities and less likely to take appropriate risks. Stress climbs, as does disharmony in your relationships. Don’t let one incident infect your day or life. A customer service representative in one of my seminars wasn’t convinced: “You mean if I have a nasty customer first thing in the morning, it’s not her fault that she ruined my day?” That’s right!

So, go ahead, take advantage of the 40% you possess to take charge of your attitude and live a more positive life!