A mental attitude is defined as “an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event.” Our attitude is unique, and changes from moment-to-moment based on a number of factors, including previous life experiences, familiarity, expectations, and even our level of alertness. Attitude formation is situational, not dispositional, meaning that our genetic makeup has little, if anything, to do with the attitudes we choose throughout each day. In other words, attitude is a choice, and each of us has the opportunity to embrace people, places, things, and events with optimism, eagerness, and openness. Why choose to be positive with your attitude? Because your happiness, mental health, and productivity rely on the attitude you choose each day.
The power of positive attitude
While it might not always be easy to wake up with a positive attitude, it is important to know that you can start each day this way. Successful people are successful largely because they recognize the importance of attitude, as well as the potential to improve one’s attitude at any given moment. When we choose to see the world as a glass half-full, and otherwise tough life situations as challenges rather than threats, only then do we experience maximum motivation, sharpened focus, and galvanized resiliency — all qualities consistently found in the people that we admire and see as successful role models in life.
Having a positive attitude is a big choice, and there are countless reasons to elect to choose a negative attitude over a positive attitude. It’s easy to live life pointing fingers, blaming others, or attributing our shortcomings to things like bad genetics, or not coming from a family of money. We also know that by choosing to keep a bad attitude, we probably won’t see much future success unless it happens purely by chance. On the other hand, while having a positive attitude won’t magically make everything in your life perfect, it will most definitely give you the best possible chance to live up to your full human potential.
What a positive attitude is not
Some people misinterpret what having a positive attitude is (and isn’t). When we choose to display a positive attitude, not only do we think more clearly and feel better, the people around us pick up on the positive energy we give off and they often reciprocate with their own positive attitude (some call this mirroring). In these moments we usually receive support, encouragement, and even helpful advice, mostly because we appear to be interested in bettering ourselves and others.
Having a positive attitude does not mean displaying an artificial persona, calling unnecessary attention to yourself, gloating, or being a corny nuisance to the people around you. It also does not mean that you always remain happy, as there are clearly many instances in life where emotions like sadness, empathy, frustration, and even anger are warranted. The point here is to work to adapt a natural, generally happy demeanor and attitude, but it’s not necessary to overdue it to the point where being positive actually has a wearing effect on you and those around you.
Positive attitude, the first big step to success
It’s nearly impossible to make big, healthy, positive steps in life without first choosing to keep a positive attitude as you begin your pursuit toward success. Sure, you could have the worst attitude in the world, rub a winning lottery ticket, and still fall into a swoon of new money while being mad at the world. In my clinical experience, that’s about one of the few ways people with negative attitudes find success (or money). Realistically speaking, it makes a lot more sense to actively create the happiness and success that you want by beginning each day with a goal to make it a positive day, rather than pointing at the world for all your problems while simultaneously hoping for a winning lottery ticket to change all your misfortune.
While we can all benefit from keeping a positive attitude, this lesson is especially important for kids to hear so that they can begin early by empowering themselves to take on the world challenges they face each day. Success doesn’t happen casually, and the folks who separate themselves from the rest of the pack (in sports or life) often do so by beginning each day with a positive and optimistic attitude and mindset.