Attitude Is Everything
Several decades ago, I was privileged to attend at presentation in the Chicago area held by psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl's family was the unfortunate victim of the Holocaust during Nazi Germany's rein in Europe. His family was killed, while he spent years in a concentration camp and survived. Frankl's foundation for therapy was based on his experience and his desire to see his patients develop a sense of meaning and purpose for their lives. I recall him saying, "When everything was taken away from me, all I had left was my attitude about what was happening. I made a choice not to be bitter." His inspiration led me to purchase a shirt which has a logo stating, "Attitude is everything." I continue to wear that shirt in honor of him.
Often, I deal with people who claim they are bored with their life. They complain incessantly about their relationships, prior history, their level of activity, their children, and the vacuum that they feel within. There is no sense of direction or meaning to their lives. They tend to derive their feeble sense of satisfaction from being an extension of other people's lives. They have a desire to control or 'fix others' while ignoring their own needs and idealizing about those who appear to have their lives running harmoniously. They are fascinated by heroic figures, and elevate them as they minimize their own self-esteem.
There are little ways for all of us to display a positive attitude while finding meaning and purpose for our lives. In the process of genuine involvement and sharing, it is important to remember that an attitude that promotes meaning is created because of what we do, not because others choose to reciprocate. For example, sometimes the right thing to do is to be compassionate to others, whether they appreciate it or not. Finding meaning and purpose is about our responsibility, not how others react to us.
It is important to do the right thing because it generates a positive attitude, makes us grateful, empowers us, and creates integrity. There are many ways all of us can feel positively connected to our community at-large. Here are some examples:
- Attend worship services and pray for the needs of others.
- Maintain a positive attitude with others. Dwell on people's positive qualities.
- Treat people that annoy you with patience.
- Let other people be 'right' even if you disagree with them.
- Volunteer time and service to community agencies.
- Give charitable donations to relief organizations.
- Donate to breast cancer walks and other promotions for serious illnesses.
It is important to get your thinking in perspective. Look around you and then ask yourself, how bad do I have it? If you are whining or complaining, you may need a dose of reality by connecting with those who are more vulnerable and less fortunate. Remember, that maintaining a positive attitude and accomplishing good deeds creates meaning. Do not focus on the reactions or responses of others. Those who are involved in helping others and give graciously will find a sense of joy, purpose and satisfaction they never thought possible.
James P. Krehbiel is a licensed professional counselor and nationally certified cognitive-behavioral therapist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. He can be reached at (480)-664-6665 or through krehbielcounseling.com.