How does one obtain a positive attitude?
Many of us have heard about the gentleman who buttered his bread and it fell, unfortunately butter side down onto the floor. He complained and complained, “It always happens to me, my bread always falls butter side down.” An old sage sitting next to him, weathered skin, snow white beard looked at him and with flat, bland affect and said, ” Maybe you buttered the wrong side of the bread.”
Perception of any given situation is very important in having a positive attitude as well as being able to impact our environment. How we see and interpret events in our life directly influence our mood and our relationships. As my friend and mentor Dr. Hammerschlag states, “It is NOT the event that causes the stress or negative attitude but how we approach the stressful event.” The death, the motor vehicle accident, the argument or financial crisis does not cause the stress but it is how we approach the stress that determines our positive or negative attitude. I frequently speak of re-framing. Re-framing is simply taking a given situation and analyzing it to see if there is any positive benefit or meaning that you may not be perceiving. We get caught up in the stress and anxiety of a given problem and we have “induced tunnel vision.” When life trauma or even a moderate stressful event occurs in our life, especially with a loved one there are many responses. Some panic, some freeze up, some flee from the stress, some ignore and act like it was not as severe as it may be and some re-frame to see the positive and plod through more effectively.
How do we obtain this positive attitude to deal with stress more effectively and hold onto a positive attitude? I am a big advocate of having individuals return to their youth. As children we all should be able to remember very happy times, care free times, those days when a patch of soft green grass, warm sun, white puffy clouds floating against a blue backdrop eased many concerns. We dreamed of birthdays, holidays, outings, and becoming older to have more responsibility. Remember the excitement we had to obtain a drivers license. Little did we know responsibly would accompany stress. Stress of worry of a loved one, financial stress, and employment. As adults we can obtain a positive attitude on a more consistent basis by being CHILD LIKE. This is not immaturity, it is not shirking responsibility, but it does mean less drama, less stress and most importantly not taking life so damn serious. If you notice in Wal-Mart a six foot tall, sslt and pepper haired man with a beard singing, and dancing spontaneously you might find me. Those that want to judge, laugh, and criticize my behavior….Go for it. I really, truly do not care. Being child like will lower blood pressure, increase happiness and others might even have a better day.
The re-frame. Re-framing situations that are greatly perceived as negative are difficult in the beginning, but with practice, are effective and filled with a more positive outlook that is NOT fabricated. An example of an awesome re-frame would be a recent post on the internet by my son. He is a huge Chicago Blackhawk fan. After the Blackhawks were ousted by Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs, in overtime I might add. The negative press was amazing. It should be noted, Toews for the Blackhawks scored the tying goal to send the game to overtime. The Blackhawks lost, ending their run in the playoffs. On the way to work that morning sports radio stations fielded calls, and announcers alike were on a roll of negative, depressing feedback about the Blackhawks. They gave away too many players, they did not play physical enough early on, they were inconsistent and the criticism went on and on and on. My son posts on facebook, ” Thanks Captain Serious for giving us overtime.” (Captain Serious is referring to Toews, as that is his nickname.) How true. The Blackhawks did give their fans more excitement and hope. My son was able to see the positive. The negative is always right in front of our face, sometimes we need to step back and reassess the situation to find the positive.
Reflect. Reflect back on times when you were stressed or negative and you found a way to move through it. Reflection on past accomplishments and moments in your life were you faltered, learned and felt good are excellent memories. You have a mental “tool box” that you own and carry with you. That tool box is called life experience. USE IT! You know when to use a hammer versus a screw driver, and you will also know how to support yourself and how to re-frame a negative or down moment in your life.
Practice and support. With any new venture one must practice and it always helps to have support from a loved one or friend. We do not have to do it alone, and NO, it does not mean we are weak if we ask for help. If one believes therapy or reading this one page will induce a more positive attitude you are falling prey to our delusional fast food society. We want it NOW, with the least amount of work possible. This is just a guide, and I am very sure if followed and refereed to it will increase your positive attitude which in-turn decreases your stress, which can in turn help your relationship with your family, which can in turn help their outlook, employment and school and maybe their physical symptoms. This is not far fetched, and studies have shown improvement in schools, nursing homes and family environments from changing one’s outlook.
1. Be childlike
2. Learn to re-frame to the positive.
3. Reflect on past accomplishments
4. Practice and find support.
Maybe you did butter the wrong side of the bread. Bad things happen to everyone, and everyone can find the positive. Try something different. Take smaller bites of the bread, do not butter the whole slice at once, take your time in life. Whatever you do, you do not need to view it as, the bread always falls butter side down. Dance, sing, and waltz on the buttered floor, just do not fall down.