A positive attitude is key to a successful life, so what happens when things go wrong? We have a tendency to let our attitudes take a dive along with our state of affairs. But life is going to deal setbacks, both minor and major, on a regular basis, and if we are going to be successful, we need to know how to keep our attitudes intact.
We need practical tools to help us understand how we can keep our attitudes up when the circumstances are down. Here are some thoughts to help us do so:
1. Take some time away.
You know what happens. You’re going about your day and everything seems to be going well, when out of nowhere, disaster strikes. All of your best laid plans begin to tumble. Sometimes circumstances surprise us and we react—and, unfortunately, this often compounds the problem, because by reacting, we tend to operate out of our weaknesses instead of our strengths. We make decisions that are not well thought out. We function with a bad attitude that says, “I can’t believe this is happening!”
The next time life turns against you, take some time to just step back from the problem and think. This will enable you to rationally deal with the issue at hand, instead of emotionally reacting. It will allow you to put your state of mind back in its proper place. It will give you the opportunity to choose your attitude as you face the circumstances at hand. Remember that you don’t have to do something right now. Go grab a cup of coffee and relax. You are in control—not the circumstances.
2. Keep your eye on the goal.
One of the biggest problems with trouble is that it gets your focus off where it should be. When racecar drivers get into trouble, they keep their eyes straight ahead and do not move them away. There is too much chance of wrecking otherwise. Instead, their eyes are on the goal—and this keeps them out of trouble.
If you find yourself getting down about circumstances, sit down and write out what your goal is, and give some thought to how you can achieve it. Make sure you’re keeping the important things important.
A man was asked how he was doing and he responded, “Pretty well, under the circumstances.” The other man asked, “What are you doing under the circumstances?” Good question. We shouldn’t be under the circumstances. We should be focused on the goal and moving forward.
3. Focus on solutions, not problems.
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” the old saying goes. Negative circumstances don’t sit idly by—they scream for our attention. When we face difficult circumstances, we tend to dwell on them. We talk about them, fret about them and give them way too much attention.
Instead of talking about problems, talk about solutions. Instead of spending your time thinking about how bad things are, think about how good they will be! Don’t have family or staff meetings about the problems and how big they are; have meetings on the solutions and how you will implement them. Don’t let yourself or other team members complain; encourage them to solve, with an emphasis on the positive results that will come from doing so. Then take some time to put these solutions down on paper so you can monitor your progress.
4. Get some positive input.
The mind tends to build on itself, so when we begin to go in one direction (like worrying), it can be a slippery slope. One thing we must do is get our thoughts back on track with positive ideas.
When circumstances have you against the emotional wall, meet with a friend who can encourage you. Pick up a good book and read. Whatever external influence you can get to put your attitude back on the positive side of the tracks—do it! It must be one of our first goals to start plugging good things into our minds to power our attitudes.
5. Tell yourself the good.
One of the greatest internal powers we have is the power to control our thoughts.
Spend time dwelling on the good things about your life or career instead of the problems. Think about positive things—things that you enjoy and that give you a sense of happiness and peace. There is an old childhood song that says, “Count your blessings—name them one by one.” That’s great advice! Let your positive attitude develop from within as well as from without. This makes all the difference!
6. Remember that circumstances are not forever.
Sometimes it seems like we are going to be up to our eyeballs in the situation forever, when in reality, “this too shall pass.” There will be a time in the future when circumstances will change and you will be on the mountain instead of in the valley. This will give you a sense of hope as you live and work that will change your attitude, make you feel better and put you on the fast track for growth.