Death smiles at us all. All man can do is smile back. – The Gladiator, Maximus/Russell Crowe
I recently overheard one of my children ask another how she seemed to always be motivated for almost any task. Her response was: “I’m not. When there is something I need to do but don’t want to do, I start by jumping-in and almost always find that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”
I immediately noticed the nuances in her answer. First of all, she immediately recognized the role her attitude played in approaching a task at hand. Secondly,she did not wait to be moved to action, she jumped-in. In short, she had developed a system for dealing with both her attitude and her motivation. She did not wait for external help for either – she found a way to control both through outlook and action.
The further I get into life, the more amazed I am at the power of our minds to influence our worlds. Though I’ve read many books and articles on attitude, I continue to be surprised when I witness the true power of our own disposition toward the things we encounter. Quite simply: IT IS STAGGERING.
The exchange above made me think about my reaction to things in my own world. The days when motivation seems to be missing or the situations where someone else seems to dictate my happiness; I was reminded of what I can control and how much power I hold in those moments. I was also reminded of how quickly I give my power away to my emotions.
In so many ways, your feelings are the enemy. I’m not talking about intuition, I’m talking about raw, reactionary emotion. Managing emotions in one direction or the other can be a huge challenge. So how do we manage the volatile highs and the depressive lows of emotion and our own attitude? Here are some ideas:
- Start with a smile. What is it about a smile? It seems to open a door to another place within us. Whether you find yourself reacting with adrenaline-charged emotion or struggling to take the next step, a smile puts a shot of positive energy into the moment and the ones to follow.
- Do something. Take constructive action. Notice I did not say re-action. Feeling low? Then just begin – make yourself take the first step. Forward motion. Feeling enraged? Channel it. Redirect it. If you’re in your car, change the radio station, sing, whistle, call a friend (hands-free of course). If you’re face-to-face with someone, walk away. The worst thing you can do? Give-in to it. Next worse? Dwell on it.
- Go to a happy place. One of the beauties of our mind is that it has an infinite capacity to travel anywhere we desire. A good memory. A hopeful aspiration. Any destination we desire. High or low, good or bad, your attitude will begin to shift when you find a “happy place.” (This bullet point brought to you by Happy Gilmore starring Adam Sandler).
- Find someone positive. There are some people who represent an oasis in the desert. They are beacons of light. Their energy is contagious. Their optimism seemingly endless. If you don’t have one of these in your life, find one! When you find them, don’t vent to them. Don’t poison their day with your darkness. Just let them be who they are – and absorb a bit of it.
- Begin with the end in mind. A great Covey-ism. Struggling with motivation? Put a goal out there. Feeling negative toward a person, place, or thing? Consider how you would like to feel. The very ACT of thinking about a better feeling toward some element of your world introduces that better feeling into your mind and slowly into your heart. Let it happen.
The list could go on but the point is made. You control your attitude and your reactions to everything around you. Focus on what you control and take action to change it. Not just to change it, but to improve it. Not just slight improvement, but life-changing, world-impacting betterment. Many won’t. Many will go with the ebbs and flows of the emotional tide, letting life’s random occurrences dictate their sense of self, sense of control, and ultimately their happiness.
Choose something different for yourself. Own your attitude and the rest will fall into place.