Monday, October 13, 2008

When Attitude Counts the Most

You know, it is really easy to be up and optimistic when things are going well. Feeling good and sporting a positive attitude is a natural by product of things flowing and going swimmingly. I would argue, however, that maintaining a positive and uplifted attitude is never more important than when things get tough.

We've all heard the saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

A personal favorite of mine at the moment is this quote by Sister Busche, "We are like tea bags - we don't know our own strength until we're in hot water."

Indeed. When adversity strikes, we really find out where our head is really at! Do we blow over at the slightest wind? Is our optimism and zest for life so fragile that it can be eradicated by a challenge? These are important questions to ask ourselves.

The recent economic crisis and burglary of my home really knocked me for a loop. It was really hard to not feel 'picked on' by life a little bit. It took me a couple weeks to work through it and realize that I was having a giant mirror held up to me by the universe. My attitude wasn't at all what I would have expected it to be. Now, granted... I needed some time to process the shock and psychic impact of the negative events that came my way, and that's OK. However, my reaction also helped me see where some of my vulnerabilities in my own thinking lurk about. I don't want to be so easily knocked off center by the outside world.

I think of leaves blowing around in the wind. They are powerless and have no control over their destiny. A tree with deep, healthy roots, on the hand, bends and sways in the wind, but remains firmly upright and planted in the earth. That's the vision I have for myself. No outer condition has the power to knock me down... well, at least not permanently.

I was reminded in a sermon I listened to last week, that even Jesus fell down under the weight of his cross. It's OK to fall down, as long as we keep trying and get up as soon as we are able.

The getting up process - how long it takes and how effectively we do it - is largely based on our attitude. Reminding ourselves of who we are, what life is really about, and our ability to overcome is a great place to start.

As I've dealt with losing a bunch of my possessions, and watching financial accounts evaporate in the wall street meltdown, I've let myself go to some pretty extreme scenarios in my mind (like being penniless and essentially starting over) in order to remind myself that IF the ultimate worst case scenario should occur... I will go on... and I'll be just fine. Sometimes I think we have to go to the worst case scenario and face it... in order to know that we can handle and endure whatever comes. The worst case scenario is often very unlikely... but knowing you could AND WOULD handle even the worst possible outcome, bolsters you to handle whatever does actually come alone.

We cannot control other people or the outside world. We don't have that ability or power. The only thing we can control is our own attitude and how we react to the world around us.

Whatever is facing you today - take a look at how you are thinking and feeling about it... and get to work on adjusting that inner perspective. As Joel Osteen said today in his sermon today, "Get your mind going in the right direction!" It will make all the difference in the world with regards to where you eventually end up.

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