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How to Develop an Exceptional Attitude


Norman Vincent Peale tells this story in his book, POWER OF THE PLUSFACTOR:

"Once walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, I came upon a tattoo studio.  In the window were displayed sample of the tattoos available.  On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever,  But what struck me  with force were three words that could be tattooed on one’s flesh:  BORN TO LOSE.

"I entered the shop in astonishment and, pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, ‘Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, BORN TO LOSE, tattooed on his body?’

"He replied, ‘Yes, sometimes.’

"‘But,’ I said, ‘I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that.’

"The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and in broken English said, ‘Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind.’" (New York: Fawcett, 1988).

Our desire is to squeeze the life out of life. Fulfilling this desire is impossible, however, if the phrase BORN TO LOSE is tattooed on our minds.  Once tattooed with this negative attitude our ability to live an energize life is tremendously decreased.  The purpose of this article is to provide you with an easy and powerful plan for developing an exceptional attitude.

WHAT DETERMINES OUR ATTITUDE

Numerous factors play a part in determining our attitude.  In this article I will  deal with one:  HOW WE THINK.  William James said, "That which holds our attention determines our action."  My experience dealing with people indicates that he is correct.  The foundation for any attitude is the thought processes of the individual.  All other  factors (feeling, behaviors, circumstances, environment) are ultimately under the dominion of our thoughts.

This truth is illustrated a story told by  Dr. Victor Frankel, one of the few survivors of Auschwitz.  When asked how he survived in a place where tens of thousands had died, he said, "I always knew that my attitude was my choice.  I could choose to despair or to be hopeful. But to be hopeful I needed to focus on something I wanted.

"I focused on my wife’s hands.  I wanted to hold them one more time.  I wanted to look into her eyes one more time. I wanted to think that we could embrace again and be heart to heart one more time.  That kept me alive second by second by second."

Frankel did not have more resource then the prisoners around him, nor were his circumstances less severe than others.  The difference was where he focused his thoughts.  His entire mental processes were centered on one single goal.  That goal gave his a reason to survive and helped him develop an exceptional attitude.

HOW TO CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS

One of the most important things we need to understand as we strive to develop an exceptional attitude is that we are engaging in a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. The unhealthy tattoos we attach to our mind are not easily removed.  It take time and a healthy does of discipline. A fellow pastor and mentor suggested for me the following course of action.

EXPRESS FAITH

I was reminded of a powerful conviction I believe but, unfortunately, had seldom focused much attention on.  I was reminded that God loved me--no strings attached.  My mentor  reminded me that I was created in God’s image and redeemed  from my faults  by God’s loving grace.  My intentional and daily remembrances of this simple conviction have aided me tremendously in developing a positive attitude.

IDENTIFY GOALS

The second bit of advice shared by my mentor was that I begin a daily discipline of keeping a journal.  It would be what Mark Vicotor Hansen has called a "Future Diary."  In this journal I was instructed to record what I wanted out of live:  desires, dreams, hopes, ambitions, and goals. By maintaining this daily journal (a Future Diary) you can become more disciplined at thinking more positive, life-enhancing thoughts.

ASSOCIATE WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE

My mentor next shared one of his favorite quotations.  "You can’t fly with the eagles if your too busy associating with the turkeys."  In other words, I needed to surround myself daily with some positive thinking people.  These people could come to me in the form of their books, personal development tapes, or by their actual presence.  In any case, I needed to find and fly with the eagles--and spend less time with turkeys.

MAKE A PUBLIC DECLARATION

Finally I was challenged to make a commitment to certain trusted friends of my intention to develop an exceptional attitude.  My mentor said that in so doing I would be  requesting their support, submitting to their accountability, and encouraging them to join me on the journey.  This has been the most rewarding aspect of this discipline.

CONCLUSION

The development of an exceptional attitude is an ongoing process in which I am still involved. I invite you to join me in this process so that together we can "Carpe Diem; Seize the Day."

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