Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Steps to a Better Attitude

I have really been struggling lately. What with a new baby and two little ones with iron wills, I have experienced some parent burnout that has taken a toll. My husband suggested that I work on thinking more positively instead of always expecting the worst. 

My attitude has certainly needed some serious adjusting. 

Yes, my husband was right. Smart man.

After reading John C. Maxwell's chapter on attitude in Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow's Success, I came up with these five ways to a more positive attitude.

5 Steps to a Better Attitude

1. Look for the positive in every situation. See the good in every circumstance, no matter how difficult it may seem. For example, when your toddler wakes up before 6:00 a.m. with a dirty diaper, don’t expect that the day is ruined. Instead, view it as an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with her before her siblings wake up. 

2. Identify areas in which you are prone to frustration. Everyone has some area or areas in which you are easily irritated. These are what John Maxwell calls “bad attitude areas.” You can’t change your parents or your gender or race, but you can choose to change your attitude. Pinpoint your bad attitude areas and decide to change them. By identifying those areas, you can plan in advance how you will respond to them so that you will not automatically give in to negativity. 

For example, I hate to be late. However, with three small children including a newborn, we rarely arrive anywhere on time. Tardiness is one of my bad attitude areas. I have to make a real concerted effort to keep a positive attitude when we are late somewhere. Knowing that we are in a challenging season right now helps me to have a better attitude about being late.

3. Modify your vocabulary. Some of my most frequently used phrases are I can’t, I’m not sure, Maybe, and I don’t think. Watch out for negative words in your word hoard, and make every effort to eliminate them.

Here are some alternatives:

Instead of… 
I can’t
I can
I’m not sure
I will
I don’t think
I’m sure

The words you speak directly affect the way you think. Use positive words, and you will begin to think more positively!

4. Practice gratitude. Count your blessings. What has God blessed you with? Healthy children? A stable job? A committed spouse? A refrigerator full of food?  By focusing on the good things in your life instead of the bad or the not-good-enough, you will cultivate a positive outlook. 

When I become Eeyore-ish and have a pity party, I get out my “thank you” cards and write a note to someone who has blessed me recently. It helps me take the focus off of myself and to show gratitude to someone who may need a little encouragement herself.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. Nothing exacerbates a bad attitude like being in the presence of negative people. They seem to band together and feed off each other, don’t they?  Instead, find upward thinking people and gravitate toward them. When you are down, call on a “positive” friend; her company will lift you up. 

Developing a positive attitude is a CONSTANT struggle. It requires lots of prayer and periodic attitude checks throughout the day. However, just within the last few days, I have been able to tell that I am happier, more attentive and patient with our children, and more at peace than I have been in a long time. That’s because I’m not worrying as much but seeing the positive in even the worst situations.

What is your secret to a good attitude?


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  1. I love this blog. I've been feeling like I can't get that nagging, temper under control lately and def. needed some advice. Just a quick question more of a cry for encourgement or ideas. I live with my mom and sister who are both very negative people. They are always fighting or arguing about something and sometimes take it out on my son. I love them both and I am not willing to move out, because my mom needs me here to aide her. I've tried discussing it with them, but they just get defensive. I get so tried of being dragged down when I wake up happy and I feel bad for thinking this way about my family. Any support, advice, would be great. I truly appreciate it. God Bless,

  2. Aindrea, my heart breaks for you and your son. Being around people--especially family members you love--who are negative and a source of distress is debilitating. I don't fully know your situation, but my immediate thoughts are first to pray. Ask God to soften your mom and sister's hearts. Obviously, something(s) are causing them to be negative. Pray for them and let them know you're praying for them. And also seek His will for you and your son. Maybe there's an opportunity available where you can move out and still be helpful to your mom (again, I don't know what kind of aid she needs). If you feel led by the Spirit and can, I would try to move. You said you've tried talking to your family and they aren't receptive. Their bad attitudes are affecting you and your son. That can only hurt you both even to the point where you and/or your son may begin to resent them. My husband has had to distance himself from some family members who drag him down every time he's around them. It's hard but he knows staying away is best for him and us.

    If moving out is not an option, then I would stand firm in my optimism. John Maxwell says that attitude affects 99% of our situation: if we resolve to be positive in the midst of trials, we will be blessed.

    I know it's hard to wake up happy and positive only to be knocked down by unhappy people. I believe that God uses these trials in our lives to refine us, making us more like Him. One of my favorite verses is from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."

    Don't give up, Aindrea. God will NEVER leave you, and what He's doing in you, NO ONE can take away or destroy! Cling to that promise; memorize it; find other verses that encourage you and commit them to memory. (I like Romans 5:3-5, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, James 1:2-4, and I Peter 1:6-7.)Teach them to your son. More than you, he is negatively influenced, and he needs you to know he is dearly loved: by you AND by God, who calls him His child. Every time your mom or sister nags at you or him, recite those verses to yourself and then leave.

    I'm praying for you. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.