Our lives are greatly affected by what we know, since what we know determines the decisions we will make.
Just as we are affected by what we know, we are also affected by how we feel.
While philosophy deals essentially with the logical side of life—information and thinking habits—attitude focuses primarily on the emotional issues that affect our existence. What we know determines our philosophy. How we feel about what we know determines our attitude.
Like thoughts, emotions have the capacity to propel us toward future fortune or future disaster. The feelings we carry within us about people, our work, our homes, our finances, and about the world around us collectively form our attitude. With the right attitude human beings can move mountains. With the wrong attitude they can be crushed by the smallest grain of sand.
The right attitude is one of the fundamentals of the good life. That is why we must constantly examine our feelings about our role in the world and about our possibilities for achieving our dreams. To create the brightest future, we must confront our feelings about the years and decades to come, but also our past and our present.
One of the best ways to approach our feelings about the past is to use it as a school, not as a weapon. We must not beat ourselves up over past mistakes, faults, failures, and losses. The events of the past, good and bad, are all part of the life experience. It is easy to allow the past to overwhelm us. But the good news is that it is also easy to allow the past to instruct us and to increase our value.
Until we have finally accepted the fact that there is nothing we can do to change the past, our feelings of regret and remorse and bitterness will prevent us from designing a better future with the opportunity that is before us today. If we can establish an intelligent approach to the past, we can dramatically change the course of the next year or longer.
The current moment is where our better future begins. The past gave us a wealth of memories and experiences, and the present gives us a chance to use them wisely.
Today brings to each of us 1,440 minutes; 86,400 ticks of the clock. Both the poor and the wealthy have the same 24 hours of opportunity. Time favors no one. Today merely says, “Here I am. What are you going to do with me?”
How well we use each day is largely a function of attitude. With the right attitude we can seize this day and make it a point of new beginning. The greatest opportunity today brings with it is the opportunity to begin the process of change. It can be a new attitude adopted about whom we are, what we want, and what we are going to do. Today can also be exactly like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before…. It is all a question of attitude.
In their classic, Lessons of History, Will and Ariel Durant wrote: “To endure what is, we must remember what was, and dream of things as they will one day be.”
Our attitude about the future depends on our ability to see the future. Each of us has the inherent ability to dream, design, and experience the future through our hopeful imagination. Whatever the mind has the capacity to imagine, it also has the ability to create.
Just as the body instinctively knows how to perform the miracle of health, the mind instinctively knows how to perform the miracle of wealth. But it will not create great rewards for you if it does not believe you deserve them. Which brings us to the beginning of progress—the key point to shifting from your past, into a better attitude of the present, which will bring with it positive rewards for the future.
Your Attitude About Yourself
The exciting thing is that each of us has the mental, spiritual, intellectual and creative power to do all that we could ever dream of doing. Everyone has it! We just need to become more aware of all that we already have and spend more time refining all that we already are, and then put it to work for us.
What stops us from recognizing our inherent gifts and talents is a poor attitude about ourselves. Why are we so quick to see the value in others and yet so reluctant to see it in ourselves? Why are we always ready to applaud someone else’s accomplishment and yet so shy about recognizing our own?
How we see ourselves is a matter of choice.
If there is one area in the knowledge department where we cannot afford to be lacking, it is the knowledge and awareness of our own uniqueness. We do not feel better about ourselves for the simple reason that we do not really know ourselves. For if we truly knew ourselves—our strengths, our abilities, our resources, our depth of feeling, our sense of humor, our unique accomplishments—we would never again doubt our ability to create a better future.
Each of us is unique. There is no one else in the world quite like us. We are the only ones who can do the special things we do. And what we do is special. We may not win great awards or public acclaim for our deeds, but we make the world a better place because of them. We make our families stronger, our offices more efficient and our community more prosperous because we are who we are.
Changing how we feel about ourselves begins with developing a new philosophy about the value of each human being—ourselves included! Most of us are so busy living our lives that we never pause long enough to appreciate all that we do in a given day. We have no appreciation of ourselves simply because we have no awareness of ourselves. Self-knowledge is a critical part of the life puzzle. As we learn more about who we are, we begin to make better choices and decisions for ourselves and about ourselves. And as we have already suggested, as our choices improve, so do our results, and as our results improve, so does our attitude.
Your Attitude Under Control
The process of human change begins within us. We all have tremendous potential. We all desire good results from our efforts. Most of us are willing to work hard and to pay the price that success and happiness demand.
Each of us has the ability to put our unique human potential into action and to acquire a desired result. But the one thing that determines the level of our potential, produces the intensity of our activity, and predicts the quality of the result we receive is our attitude.
No other person on Earth has dominion over our attitude. People can affect our attitude by teaching us poor thinking habits or unintentionally misinforming us or providing us negative influences, but no one can control our attitude unless we voluntarily surrender that control.
No one else “makes us angry.” We make ourselves angry when we surrender control of our attitude. What someone else may have done is irrelevant. We choose, not they. They merely put our attitude to a test. If we select a volatile attitude by becoming hostile, angry, jealous, or suspicious, then we have failed the test. If we condemn ourselves by believing that we are unworthy, then again, we have failed the test.
If we care at all about ourselves and our future, then we must accept full responsibility for our own feelings. We must learn to guard against those feelings that have the capacity to lead our attitude down the wrong path and to strengthen those feelings that can lead us confidently into a better future.
If we want to receive the rewards the future holds in trust for us, then we must exercise the most important choice given to us as members of the human race by maintaining total dominion over our attitude.
Your attitude is an asset, a treasure of great value. Protect it. Nurture it. And you will reap the future reward.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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