“Ability is what you are capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Your mental attitude affects and is affected by your beliefs, feelings, values, tendencies and actions. The universe is a mirror which reflects your attitude, which is best illustrated by this story:
Once, a happy little dog entered a temple and found himself in a room containing a thousand mirrors. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at a thousand other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. As he left the temple, he thought, “This is a wonderful place. I’ll return and visit it often.”
Later, another little dog, not quite as happy as the first one, visited the same temple. When he saw a thousand dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was terrified when the thousand dogs growled back at him. He ran away in fear, thinking, “That is a horrible place. I’ll never go back there again.”
Twenty-six centuries ago, the Buddha said, “Your mental attitude shapes the quality of your life. If you act with a positive mind, happiness will follow you like the shadow that never leaves.” Twenty-five centuries later, the eminent psychologist William James echoed his words, “The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
The good news is that you can choose to develop a positive attitude. You may not be able to change your past, the circumstances of your life, or the way other people behave towards you but you can certainly change your own attitude. And the moment you start to do this, your life starts to change. Like Katherine Mansfield, you’ll discover that when you change your attitude, you not only see life differently, but life itself comes to be different.
A positive attitude reinforces the power of choice. Once you recognize this, you can choose to be positive. In the words of Maya Angelou “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
One of the most effective ways to develop a positive attitude is by meditation. When you meditate, you gift yourself the time, space and opportunity to reflect upon your thoughts, words and actions. During meditation, you try to see things as they are, without trying to change them. You gradually learn to be mindful of your negative reactions to disturbing events and emotions and to transfer this mindfulness into your day-to-day living.
Another way to develop a positive mental attitude is through the practice of creativity. You can use creative ways such as brainstorming, free-writing, mind-mapping, and drawing to find out-of-the-box solutions to your current problems. Julia Cameron, author and writing coach, advises her students to write three pages first thing every morning, to dump all their angst on paper. She says this is one of the best ways to develop a positive attitude towards creativity and life.
A positive attitude is the most important factor that will determine your success. Thomas Jefferson was right when he said that nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal and nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. Being in the right frame of mind is more important than being in the right place at the right time.
The greatest benefit of a positive attitude is that we can’t help but share it with others. “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” advises Tom Stoppard.
A positive attitude is your most valuable possession, especially if you are a writer or artist. You can use your positive attitude to help you overcome the numerous challenges on the path of creativity. A positive attitude is a never-say-die spirit. The true artist never gives up. This is best exemplified by Michael Jordan’s words, “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.”
6 April 2011
Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.