When it comes to quotes or stories, I’m ALL about giving credit to the original source. However, some stories and quotes are so good that they’ve been around the world so many times no one knows where they originally came from.
One of my favorite such stories is this one:
A woman woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. She said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” She did and she had a great day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Well, I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” She did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Hmmm. I think I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail today.” She did just that and had a fun day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “Yes!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!“
Now that’s what I call a great attitude!
When I sat down to write (well it’s actually typing, isn’t it?) an article about attitude, my mind started sorting through my favorite quotes and stories about attitude. My aunt’s quote, after she learned she had breast cancer, “I never ask why me, I ask, well…why NOT me?” was the first quote to spring to mind. She was immediately followed by the story about the woman with three dwindling hairs.
By the way, my aunt beat cancer and it hasn’t had the audacity to knock on her door again.
You know how, in life, people tend to give an inordinate amount of credit to certain people – whether it’s credit for things going right OR for things going wrong? In the grocery store the other day, a man in the cereal aisle read the price of one of the cereals aloud, then followed it with, “Thank you very much, Obama.” He’s no different than the woman I heard blaming President Bush for a tornado that tore through the Midwest. I’m certain President Obama didn’t price the cereal and I pretty sure President Bush didn’t summon up a tornado.
People just love to “pin” things on people, don’t they?
Having said that, I may be just as ridiculous sometimes as these two – not when it comes to blaming people, but when it comes to blaming character traits. I tend to blame 80 percent of people’s suffering on having the wrong attitude. Bad attitudes are my “fall guys.”
Before you try reasoning with me, I’ll admit, there are other negative traits or habits that can cause problems. Sometimes people procrastinate, sometimes they’re hard-headed, sometimes they’re lazy. Heck, sometimes they’re simply as dumb as a bag of rocks!
However, I maintain that A LOT of problems we face can be handled better simply by adjusting our attitude.
A sour, defeatist, poor-poor-me attitude only increases your suffering. It also pushes people about as far away as they can be pushed. If you’re feeling sorrow or grief, by all means express it – just be certain not to wallow in it.
Feel the pain (whether it’s grief, remorse, or a good old-fashioned broken heart), take a deep breath, get up, and get on with life.
No matter what has happened in your life, you MUST have the attitude that the best is yet to come. You MUST tell yourself that, while your yesterdays were great, they don’t even hold a candle to your tomorrows.
Have I ever told you about a baseball pitcher we once knew? When we lived in Louisville, Kentucky, we were season ticket holders for a AAA team – the Louisville Bats (Riverbats before that). For those unfamiliar with baseball (I don’t even know you anymore!), if a player is on a AAA team, they aren’t playing major league ball yet (or making the “big bucks”). Many are thisclose to the majors, but many are also thisclose to AA (step beneath AAA).
Anyway, as far as pitchers go, our guy was “okay.” When he was on the mound for our team, my whole family would practically hold our breath – willing him to be brilliant, simply because we liked him so much. I’m thinking it would have been impossible not to. He was the kind of person who you just KNEW got out of bed smiling in the morning, daring the world to knock the smile off of his face. He always had something to say and seemed, genuinely, thrilled to have the honor of being a part of the beautiful thing we call life.
A lot of the baseball players in the minor leagues would have nasty attitudes. They’d snarl, pout, and put off so much negative energy they’d suck the energy out of the entire ballpark. They wouldn’t sign autographs for fans and they wouldn’t stop to talk to you if their life depended on it. However, a lot of guys (like our smiling pitcher) were having fun with life and had great attitudes. One of the nicest, coolest guys to ever come through the system was Adam Dunn – if you follow baseball, I know you’ve heard of him. His attitude (like his swing) could not have been sweeter.
Leave it to me to get side-tracked with baseball talk. I’m obsessed with the game. Could you tell?
Anyway, Adam Dunn has been playing in the majors for A LOT of years now and the guys with the rotten attitudes? Nowhere to be found. Did Adam’s bat have a lot to do with it? Of course! But so did his attitude.
Think of people in your own life who have great attitudes. The people who are so darn happy and upbeat that you kind of get in a better mood simply from being around them. They’re the complete opposite of the “energy suckers.” This crowd BRINGS the energy.
I’m going to give you a little peak into an approach I’ve frequently taken in life. I call it looking for the UP side to any given situation. I’ve had a pretty eventful life and, along the way, I figured something out. Looking UP is the key to happiness (and sanity). Looking DOWN is the key to misery.
Whichever way you face… you go.
When I lost my father (who was far too young to have died), I held on to the thought that he was in Heaven now and would never be sick again. I also kept reminding myself that I’d never have to go through losing my dad again and would never see him sick or hurt. Years later, I would have to rely on the same approach with my mom when she suddenly decided to move on to Heaven to join him. When my oldest daughter got married and moved out of the house (what was she thinking?!), I refused to think of how much I missed seeing her beautiful face each day and thought, instead, of how good her new husband is to her, how much he makes her laugh, and how much I love both of them.
Would feelings of sadness creep in from time to time? Of course! But when they did, I would immediately focus on the positives. Sometimes you have to really, really, really look hard. In fact, sometimes all you can say is, “Well, the sun’s shining…”
You have to focus immediately on the positive – and do it so regularly that your “immediately” becomes “instinctively.”
Years ago, I taught Sunday School for little bity people. My class was made up of 4, 5 and 6 year olds. I was talking to them about always being thankful and about telling others how thankful and happy they were. One ridiculously cute little boy happened to be (shhhh, don’t tell anyone) one of my favorites. He may not have been the best behaved, mind you. In fact, he never sat still and didn’t hesitate for a second to say what was on his mind. What can I say, he amused me and kept things interesting. His name was Zachary and I’d have taken 20 of him. As they were coloring pictures after our story about thankfulness and happiness, he raised his little hand. I thought, “Here we go…” after asking him what was on his mind. He said something about having a bad day and not feeling happy.
No doubt, he’d been in trouble with his dad that morning – Heaven only knows what’d he’d gotten into!
I told him that he should think about something that makes him happy when he felt upset. Something that he was thankful for. I asked him to name something that made him smile – because that would be something he was thankful for. He thought about it for a minute, went back to coloring (obviously still thinking), then looked up with a smile on his face. He said tractors made him smile and that he was thankful for tractors. His grandparents were farmers and his dad, no doubt, had a tractor too. They obviously meant good times to this little live wire and maybe even represented a favorite loved one.
I looked all week for a coloring book with pictures of tractors, but when I put the picture of a tractor in front of him the following Sunday, his face lit up so brightly it made the work more than worth it!
We all have things that make our faces light up. We all have things that make us smile – from the inside, out. As much as is possible, always try to focus on these things – especially when you’re going through a rough patch. When having a rotten day, think of the woman with three hairs, then two hairs, then one hair, then no hair.
Think of a much-loved aunt who non-chalantly said, “Why NOT me?”
And think of Zachary and his tractor.
Don’t let bad situations get the best of you – they don’t deserve it. Turn the tables on life by turning the dial on your attitude. Remember, you GO in the direction you’re facing. Don’t look down… look up!