How and Why to Have a Better Attitude

A good attitude is one of the most important assets you can have. Let me enumerate some of its benefits quickly. With a better attitude:

1. Your relationships are fuller, more harmonious, and more beneficial. Even if you have a great attitude already, with every improvement you make in your attitude, you'll have fewer troubles. The better your attitude, the easier it is to resolve conflicts.

2. Your health is better. Vast reams of ever-accumulating research show that negative emotions of all kinds are detrimental to your long-term health and that positive emotions are positively beneficial for your body and mind.

3. You will make more money. People are hired and promoted as much for their attitudes as for their skill and knowledge.

4. You make better decisions. Studies show that people are more creative and better able to reason in a good mood than in a bad mood.

5. You will feel happier more often.

Attitude is important. And with just one technique, you can have a good attitude more often than you do now. Here it is: Concentrate on having a good attitude. That's it. Make your attitude one of your central concerns and you'll find ways and means. Make it a priority in your life to have a good attitude and you'll change your thoughts, exercise more regularly, eat quality food, get enough sleep, look at things with a healthier perspective, communicate better with your loved ones — you'll naturally find all the ways you can improve your attitude, and you'll be motivated to do so.

You can deliberately make your attitude better. But you must concentrate on it. Those who have a good attitude have learned how because they are committed to it. And you can be committed and learn how too. Find what works and discard what doesn't.

Make it a core purpose of yours to keep a good attitude. Everything else will follow.

how to define a "good attitude"

W. Clement Stone, author of The Success System That Never Fails, calls it RMA — right mental attitude. The right attitude for the situation. Not necessarily cheerful or enthusiastic.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, says, "Having a positive mental attitude means that your actions and thoughts further your ends; having a negative mental attitude means that you are constantly undermining your own efforts."

That's almost exactly the way Albert Ellis defines the difference between rational and irrational. In his book, A New Guide to Rational Living, he and co-author Robert Harper say, "RET (Rational Emotive Therapy) shows you how to distinguish clearly between appropriate emotion, such as your feeling real sorrow or annoyance when you don't get what you want, and inappropriate, or self-defeating emotions, such as your feeling depressed, self-downing, or enraged under the same conditions."

"By the same token," they go on, "RET helps you discriminate between rational and irrational thinking. It holds that rational thinking normally leads to appropriate and irrational thinking to inappropriate emoting. What do we label as rational thinking? That kind of thinking that assists you (1) to survive and (2) to achieve the goals or values you select to make your survival pleasurable, enjoyable, or worthwhile."

Keep this in mind when you aim for a good attitude. A good attitude is the right attitude for the circumstances. It isn't necessarily gleeful.

In a study by a research team at the Laval University in Quebec shows that people who worry have the skills necessary to deal with problems, but because of their "problem orientation" (essentially a negative attitude — negative beliefs and expectations), they avoid dealing with problems. But since problems don't go away, they still have to think about them, and they do it in an avoiding way, producing fear. Result: worry.

People who worry are not necessarily physically different than people who don't worry. And their circumstances aren't any worse than people who don't worry. It is the worrier's orientation to problems in general that causes their misery.

A negative, problem-orientation is a bad attitude because it feels bad and it impairs your ability to solve problems. So it is the wrong attitude. Focus on having the right attitude. Make it one of your central concerns. It is important. Concentrate on it.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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