By Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
We are either the masters or the victims of our attitudes.
It is a matter of personal choice. Who we are today is the
result of choices we made yesterday. Tomorrow, we will
become what we choose today. To change means to choose to change. ~John Maxwell
What kind of thoughts come to your mind when you think about your life? How about your family, your work, your future? Suppose your thoughts could change your destiny. Would you want to change or improve any of them?
We might believe our thoughts just happen, and we don’t consider the fact that we can choose to stop certain thoughts and refocus. We can choose what we accept and meditate on, and we can choose what we resist and reject. Our thoughts shape the attitudes that direct our lives. We make decisions based on our attitudes and beliefs.
Thoughts lead to other related thoughts. When they are hopeful and positive, we develop a good attitude. Likewise, a bad attitude results when a habit of negative thoughts dominate our thinking. For example, suppose you feel hurt that your friend didn’t invite you to lunch. You might begin to think that it is because she doesn’t want you to come. That thought may lead to you wondering if she really likes you. Maybe you did something wrong. Maybe there is something wrong with you. You feel angry and rejected. You dwell on the offense and have a bad attitude. If you hold on to it, it might come out as rejection and bitterness toward your friend.
Hurt and angry feelings affect our choices and attitudes. We might not be able to control how we feel, but we can control how we direct our thoughts. Suppose you were to stop the negative cycle after feeling hurt that you were not invited. There could be many good reasons why your friend didn’t ask you to join her. Maybe she just wanted to go alone and it had nothing to do with you. You would have liked to go, but it is okay. You can choose to not dwell on the offense and negative feelings. You can refocus. Forgive and release it. If need be, talk to her about it.
Our thinking patterns become habits and attitudes. Optimism and pessimism are the result of the kinds of thoughts we choose to dominate our thought life and perspective. If we were to live by these words of wisdom, we would spare ourselves of the negativity that keeps us from fulfilling our potential and purpose: Fill your mind and meditate on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Philippians 4:8).
We can choose to occupy our minds with the best in people or situations, rather than the worst. We can choose to see the beauty and splendor of every rose rather than its thorns and ugliness. We can notice and praise what is right and good rather than dwell on mistakes or problems. We can hold on to hope rather than submit to despair. We can appreciate and embrace what we have and all that is before us rather than live in regret of the past. We can choose to live today as best as we can because that is all we have right now.
It’s your choice: you can either count your blessings or recount your disappointments. ~Jim Gallery
We shouldn’t deny the pain of what happens in our lives.
But, we should refuse to focus only on the valleys. ~Charles Swindoll
Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. ~Max Lucado