As we enter the holiday season, we experience a wide range of feelings. There is significant diversity in the ways people perceive this time of year. For some it is a time of giving while others focus on the "getting." For some this is a time of joy and harmony while others experience a deep sense of foreboding and depression.
All of these experiences are real with a very real impact. But the holidays are not the source of the feelings. The holidays are just "the holidays." It is our paradigms and our individual perceptions that define this time of the year for us.
This expresses the first of three ways our attitudes can change our world - personal impact. When our attitudes turn negative, we tend to look for, and find, negative in everything we see. The sun is too hot and the clouds are too dreary. The moon is too bright and the darkness too scary.
These feelings inevitably lead to a decline in motivation and a decrease in performance. With the decrease in performance comes a lack of results and low self esteem. The poor results and lack of self esteem reinforce a negative paradigm and the cycle begins anew.
With a positive attitude the view is very different. We look for, and find, beauty in our world and opportunity in our experiences. We are motivated to seek higher levels of performance and realize greater achievements. We can see the value in any progress we make and celebrate it as success. The success we see enhances our faith, improves our self esteem and reinforces the positive cycle.
The second way attitudes impact our world is what I call interactional impact. We are not alone in this world. While there are a few exceptions, most of us interact with others on a frequent basis. Whenever human interaction occurs, those involved have an impact on each other.
The nature of interactional impact is shaped by two factors - individual behavior and the resulting perception of that behavior. If I perceive your behavior as positive it has a positive impact on me. Both behavior and the perception of it are driven by attitude.
Of course, our attitude affects how we judge the behavior of others. Some are even able to minimize the impact their own attitude has on their behavior toward others. In either case, positive attitudes and positive behaviors create positive interactions. Positive interactions stimulate increased motivation, improved performance and higher self esteem.
The third way attitudes can impact our world is metaphysical impact. As Wayne Dyer put it, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." While they certainly change for you, based on your perception, many contend that things can be physically changed by attitude.
It is easy to see that that the outcome of interactions, and the results of our efforts can be changed by our attitude. But this goes much further with a belief that attitude can actually stimulate physical change in our universe. The best example lies in the importance of the positive attitude of faith when employing the power of prayer.
Another example is in the concept of the Law of Attraction. This concept is quite simple. We bring into our lives that which we think about. If we think about positive things we desire, they come to us. Conversely, if we focus on worry, on all the things that can go wrong, and all the ills of the world, we bring those into our lives as well.
It is easy to talk about attitude and to recognize the importance of attitude in our lives. It is another thing entirely to control or change our attitudes in practice. There are a number of things we can do to help create and sustain a positive outlook.
Practices such as meditation, prayer, and positive affirmations are a good place to start. You can also establish a personal filter by controlling some of the things you are exposed to. You can choose the people you associate with, the books you read, the programs you watch or attend and the websites you visit. Every experience has an impact on you and on your attitude.
Life is an on-going process. We are always moving. My practice and my advice is to focus on the journey - on improvement rather than perfection. My goal is to be a little better tomorrow than I am today. That can never happen with a negative attitude. It takes desire, faith and work.
I have never believed that we can obtain everything we want simply by sitting back with a positive attitude. To paraphrase what Thomas Edison once said, opportunity is often missed because it comes dressed in overalls disguised as hard work.
A positive attitude will make a difference. You can improve yourself. You can improve your workplace. You can improve the world around you. Share something positive, even if it's just a smile.
The sun is always rising somewhere!