THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Life Positive|November 2020
Our attitude is what makes or mars our life, says Annesha Banerjee. A positive attitude can bring us peace, happiness, and prosperity, whereas a negative one can take us down the road to hardships
Annesha Banerjee

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. —Albert Einstein

In my final year of college, everyone was overjoyed when a trip was planned to Himachal. After planning the itinerary and making all the arrangements, a group of around 25 girls, along with a few of our professors, left for the tour. Among my group of friends, only two of us made it, but we thoroughly enjoyed with our classmates. However, the excursion was remarkable in the way it changed my perception towards one of my class-fellows, who I previously thought of as too loud and authoritative. I learned that she had grown up always voicing her opinion, and her loud voice was just how she sounded normally, even when she was not shouting. I realized that I had jumped to conclusions without actually knowing her. That incident made me aware of my largely judgemental attitude towards people and still stands as an example of being more accepting of people and not being quick in passing judgments.

Our attitude is a strong indicator of our basic personality and the fears and beliefs which govern our life. Everything—the way we behave, view others, and are viewed by them—depends on our attitude. Our attitude shapes our overall conduct as well as gives a peek into our past.

My mother has a decidedly positive attitude towards her neighbors. She treats them with extreme kindness and is always willing to help them. This has made her very popular among people. She has inherited this attitude from her mother who believed that in times of need, it’s the neighbor who comes to your aid first; therefore, one must be very sweet to them.

I too have positive and negative attitudes which are a reflection of my past experiences, beliefs, and conditioning. I am mortified of cats. I avoid them like the plague because of a bad experience in my childhood. Having gone to my friend’s house to look for my grandmother, I had spotted a little kitten on her front porch. With the intention of petting it, I had beckoned it to myself. To my surprise and shock, the kitten came near me, but instead of rubbing itself against me, it scratched my hands badly and leaped away. Now, with a pet cat having been introduced in the family of one of my relatives, I think I would have to get rid of this irrational fear and change my attitude towards cats.

Like glasses with no shade or tint, we begin by viewing the world as it is—no judgements, just observation. But as we grow, learn, and experience things, we begin to attach meanings and emotions to things, people, situations, and ideas.

“My maternal grandfather was strictly against entertaining any ochre-robed mendicant. He firmly believed that most of them were lazy people who did not want to work for a living. However, my paternal grandfather revered the sanyasis (renunciates) and would treat them with a lot of respect, if ever any of them came knocking on his door,” says Rishabh Soni, a marketing expert. “I feel that both of these attitudes were coming from learned experiences. While one may have had a bad experience vis-a-vis spiritual people, the other was a beneficiary of a blessing by a revered baba (spiritual adept), and he remained eternally grateful to the spiritual community,” he adds.

The origin of our attitude

I asked a few people what, according to them, was ‘attitude’? The answers ranged from ‘outlook towards life and things,’ ‘behavior,’ ‘way of thinking,’ to ‘degree of confidence.’ While attitude does reflect all those people mentioned, it is much more. Psychologists define attitude as a learned tendency to evaluate people, issues, objects, or events. Such evaluations are reflected in our actions and behavior and are often positive or negative. From a plate of fries to celebrity personalities to political views, we have an attitude towards everything and everyone. It is the very nature of attitude to summarise how we feel about pretty much everything. How we set our expectations and how we handle the situation when our expectations are not met is also determined by our attitude.

We are all born with clean slates, without inhibitions or apprehensions. Like glasses with no shade or tint, we begin by viewing the world as it is—no judgments, just observation. But as we grow, learn, and experience things, we begin to attach meanings and emotions to things, people, situations, and ideas. Through direct or indirect exposure, personal experiences, social norms, and conditioning, our attitude develops over time and reflects not only our background but also how we will proceed in the future. Whenever we come from a deeply fixed belief, disposition, or mindset, it becomes a part of our attitude. While attitudes are enduring, they can also change.

Our attitude, which is a sum total of our basic beliefs, determines our personality and how we choose to view life and decide to go about it. It is also determined by our circumstances, upbringing, and the company we keep. Since attitude is a deep-seated behavior or outlook towards people, things, events and ideas, it is important to double-check whether our attitude is helping us grow in all spheres of life or contributing to our problems.

Not knowing the difference between right and wrong, many youngsters tend to believe that a haughty and cocky attitude will make them stand apart and establish them as leaders. Many cultivate an attitude of being selfish and are only focused on personal gains. However, there are others who are very thoughtful and considerate in their attitude, and people feel very happy around them. A belief becomes an attitude when it goes deep into our subconscious and begins to exert control over our reflexes and everyday behavior. Therefore, it is important to monitor the thoughts we are feeding ourselves with, as done over a long period, they can become our overall attitude. We should ensure that we do not become a victim of our attitude.

While there are several types of attitudes, each leading to a certain destiny, broadly, attitude can be divided into two categories: positive and negative. The best attitude is the one which keeps making our life better and happier.

Although most people think that their attitude is the right one and there is nothing negative about it, it often takes difficulties and hardships as well as a rare burst of awareness to make them reconsider their attitude.

The power of attitude

I have seen umpteen people who have a perpetually negative attitude towards life in general and people in particular. No matter how hard you try, they refuse to believe in anything positive and uplifting and dismiss optimistic people as naive and gullible. However, the state of their own life reflects their attitude towards it. Nothing seems to work, people always cheat and betray, and life is a tale of endless failures and misfortunes.

When an eagle is attacked by a flock of crows, it chooses to fly higher and out of the crows’ reach rather than fight back. As it is said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that caused the problem.”

On the other hand, there are a few who believe in themselves more than the gloomy picture painted and promoted by the world and mass media. They aim to unlock the principles on which life works, focus on self-improvement, and give their best shot to life, regardless of the circumstances. They change themselves by changing their thoughts, outlook, and attitude, and gear up to face life with a smile on their face and courage in their hearts. Your attitude can make a bad situation better or a good situation go downhill.

Priti, my ex-colleague, shared with me an incident from two years ago when her health had started to deteriorate after a simple viral infection. “I was stressed and couldn’t share it with anyone because I felt like no one would understand what I was feeling. I still remember the nights when I couldn’t sleep and suffered panic attacks. Many of my past traumas and hurts would haunt my mind making me feel miserable and unworthy. My ill-health also impacted my studies, and I didn’t perform well in my competitive exams. I also had to quit my job.”

Attitude matters

Our attitude forms a major component of our personality and is our default, biased way of viewing reality. There are seven types of lenses of attitude through which we see life, for better or for worse:

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