Attitude Matters

This past week, I have seen this idea at work in the three major spheres of my life: Work, Spirituality, and Writing.

Awesome Pastor tripped off my thoughts and I reflected on how it applies to my life. I know each person’s belief system is personal and up to them, so I won’t get into the details here, but the upshot is he spoke about the motivation with which one gives. Not only does the amount (money, time, etc) mean something, but so does the reasoning behind it. I don’t have to go on to say that the topic of “giving” is apropos to the astronomical need in Haiti right now. Every day, I witness people’s generosity. It’s fantastic!

Moving on, in my work with patients, I have come to understand just how important attitude can be. Environmental stressors, biologic factors, and all around “bad stuff” notwithstanding, a person’s attitude can make all the difference.

I thoroughly acknowledge that when life looks negative, it’s almost impossible to see the positive. Sometimes it’s as if “good things” never existed. The world is black. Dark. Empty. Hopeless. Is there a way out of the pit? In the throes of depression, it’s hard to figure out a reason to care.

On the flip side (and this usually occurs after some hurdle has been overcome or a sense of mastery over one’s life/perspective has been obtained), one could think instead: Life has been tough. Traumatic experiences have happened. Nightmares and flashbacks still pop up. But…

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Please know I’m not advocating people take on a fake mask of joy. In some sense, that is more dangerous than acknowledging “real” feelings. However, flipping things to the positive softens the blow, makes optimism easier, and fosters hope.

I’ve met people who have encountered horrible tragedies, endured tremendous abuse and torture, found themselves hurdling headlong toward their grave. A particular population of patients I work with has taught me more about focusing on the positive than I ever could have imagined. They literally have been brought back from the brink of death to be given that rare “second chance at life.” Sure, they get down from time to time and good days are mixed in with the bad, but they continue to strive to improve themselves every day. There’s nothing more inspiring than that.

Lastly (thank you if you’ve hung in ‘til the bitter end, I’ve got a bit long-winded), let me discuss how attitude has affected my writing. This week I tuned into a Tweetchat hosted by St. Martin’s Press for their New Adult contest finalist announcements. Back in November, seventeen other writers and I were chosen out of 383 submissions to be “winners.” Surprised and quite in shock, I sent off my partial manuscript for further review, hoping they would then request the full.

The upshot is: I made it to the semi-finals, but not the finals.

I’ll be honest. I was bummed. At the same time, I realized getting that far was an accomplishment. (And the finalists have some pretty awesome stories that I can’t wait to read, so a big congrats to them!)

So, considering the importance of attitude, how do I share this news with others? What behaviors will I express?

My choices are—and I stress CHOICES:

1)    Stew in “failure”—perceived, not actual.

2)    Drown in sorrow. (That’s not melodramatic or anything. * grin *)

3)    Throw in the towel, no more writing for me! * folds arms and pouts *

4)    Enjoy significance of accomplishing something.

5)    Feel excitement about the WIP I’m about to query.

6)    Eat lots of chocolate. (Okay, that goes without saying, amen?)

7)    Other (You ALWAYS need an other category. It’s true.)

Let’s see, I choose: 4, 5, and of course, 6. Guess what? It worked! My confidence didn’t take a nosedive. I didn’t hyper-focus on, “I should have done this or that.” People cheered me on! It brought me closer to others.

Wow. Attitude does matter.

Tell me friends, what are your experiences with and thoughts on attitude?

6 comments on “Attitude Matters

  1. Christine Fonseca says:

    Love this post…really Laura – we seem to share many similar thoughts about life!

  2. philangelus says:

    Have you read Martin Seligman’s learned optimism work? Reading “The Optimistic Child” cured my depression because I un-learned a lot of negative self-talk and a lot of cognitive errors. What you’re saying seems similar.

    • lbdiamond says:

      Changing up those negative thoughts for positive ones takes work, dedication, and effort, but it can make a HUGE difference!

      One positive thing, no matter how small, is a VICTORY.

  3. Great post! Hurray for 4, 5 & 6! 🙂

    I try to seek out the magic in every day life. Some days I need to look harder than others, though. LOL!

  4. You nailed it. Attitude is everything. I couldn’t have said it better!

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