Life is constantly changing and throwing challenges our way. Using Emotional Intelligence helps us respond to these changes wisely, but we also have to monitor our daily self-talk and overall attitude toward life.
When circumstances or other forces prevent us from experiencing life in a way that makes the most sense to us, we often turn sour and develop what is known as a “bad attitude.”
This mindset becomes manifest in numerous familiar ways from pouting, to doubting, to shouting, and even to clouting. We may even lose our motivation to keep moving forward.
Is there a universal secret that can help people keep a more positive attitude most of the time? Let me share two extremes.
I know a woman who wears a pin with ruby slippers on it. She is like a ray of sunshine who is on a constant crusade to spread as much cheer as she can with everyone. Does she ever have a bad day? I’ll bet she does, but I have never seen her really down. She lives in a very nice world, even when some people are not very nice to her.
I ran into a different woman in a hair salon this past week. The woman spoke in a constant stream of babble. She literally could not stop talking. Every phrase she uttered was negative. For her, the world was the pits, and she was forced to endure a steady stream of clueless morons.
I marvel over these two extremes. Ask yourself seriously, where on the scale between these two extremes do you reside most of the time?
I need to make a distinction here between the majority of people who have some control over their thoughts and the few people who have deep psychological problems based on disease or prior traumas.
There are people who feel they must lash back at the world because of what they have been forced to endure. Perhaps it was some kind of physical or mental abuse when they were a child. Perhaps there was a total betrayal by a trusted loved one. For these people, trying to alter their mental state by thinking positive thoughts might further repress some gremlins that need to come out with professional help.
For the majority of folks, even though we have some issues to resolve, learning to have a more positive attitude could be a major step forward in terms of leading a happier life.
The greatest power God gave us is the power to choose. I learned that from Lou Holtz 25 years ago in a video entitled “Do Right.” What Lou meant is that the choice is ours where we exist on the scale of attitude.
So, how come many people choose to dwell on the negative side of life? Is it because they enjoy being miserable? I think not. I believe if a person realizes there is a more enjoyable place to dwell, he or she will do the inner work necessary to gravitate toward it.
The reason many people live in misery is because they simply do not know (or fail to remember) that they have the power to change their condition. It is there all the time, if they will only recognize and use the power. In the song “Already Gone” by The Eagles, is a profound lyric, “So often times it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”
What technique of the mind can we use to remember the power we have over our thoughts? It is simple. We need to deal with root issues and then train our brain to think in a different pattern.
It has been demonstrated that habitual thought patterns can be changed simply by replacing bad thoughts with good ones consistently for about a month. That is long enough to reprogram our brain to overcome a lifetime of negative attitudes and thoughts.
There is a simple process that is guaranteed to work if we will only use it consistently.
Step 1 – Catch yourself having a negative thought. This is the part where most people fail. They simply do not recognize they are having negative thoughts, so no correction is possible.
Through the power of this article, you now have the gift (if you chose to use it) of catching the negative thought next time you have one. Use that power!
Step 2 – Replace the negative thought with a positive one. Mechanically reject the negative thought and figure out a way to turn it to an advantage.
Napoleon Hill had a great technique for doing this. He posited that every bad situation contained the seed of an equivalent benefit. When something negative happened, rather than lamenting, he would fix his energy on finding the seed of the equivalent benefit. With practice, it is possible to do this most of the time.
Don’t just think the thought; feel the positive feelings that the positive thought evokes. This part of the process is what gives this step its power boost. Then act in congruence with the thought and emotion. This way of dealing with negative thoughts and behaviors will literally change your life.
Step 3 – You must praise yourself for rejecting the bad thought and replacing it with a good one. Why? Because the road to changing a lifetime of negativity is long and hard. You need encouragement along the way to recognize that you are literally reinventing your entire self through the power of your mind. One might think this is impossible objectively, but you are accomplishing it.
I read a joke that it is great to be a youth because you do not have the experience to know that it is physically impossible to do what you are doing.
Every time you praise yourself for taking the initiative to change your attitude, you make the next life-changing attitude adjustment easier to make. Thus, you can begin to form a habit of changing the way you think. Presto, a month later the world will see a new and much more positive you.
The good news is that this three-step process takes no time out of your busy day. It costs absolutely nothing to do it, yet it can literally transform the only thing in life that really counts: the quality of your life.
The amazing thing about this technique is that it can be taught to others rather easily. The idea is so simple it can be understood in a five minute discussion, yet the benefits are so powerful it they can make a huge difference in the life of the other person.
I recommend you try this method of self-improvement for a month and experience the benefits. Once you do, then help some people who are miserable to improve their lot in life by applying this process.
Developing Emotional Intelligence and changing your attitude will open the door to making positive changes in your life. You will see that you DO have the power to make changes and see life in a different way: a more powerful way. You can use that new power to start making tangible differences in your life because you will trust yourself and your ability to control your outcomes better.
Key Concepts in this article
1. You can train your brain to think differently
2. Three step process:
• Catch yourself having a negative thought,
• Turn that thought into the seed of an equivalent benefit, and let the seed blossom,
• Praise yourself for the growth.
3. You need to apply this technique consistently for 30 days for it to become a habit.
Exercises for you
1. Write down 5 ideas to improve your attitude today. Start a habit of thinking of attitude improvement ideas every morning.
2. Have a conversation with another person about changing attitudes. Resolve between the two of you to help each other along a path to greater control of this dimension.
3. Catch yourself with a poor attitude using the model outlined in this article. Start using it today, and make sure to reward yourself for the growth.
4. Teach the three step approach to other people as a way to help them improve their life.
5. Create a mutual support system around using the self-correcting model. Make it into a group exercise. Groups can benefit by this approach as much as individuals can.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 585.392.7763