The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” ~ John C. Maxwell
The infamous Hilary Hinton Ziglar, better known as Zig Ziglar, was once one of the world’s most popular inspirational speakers. In his prime, he traveled the world delivering a message of faith, hope, and encouragement. As a gifted author and speaker, he had a unique delivery style. His powerful motivational messages earned him many honors. Ten of his twenty-eight books topped the bestseller lists.
Zig was a committed family man, an enthusiastic patriot, and devout in his Faith. He touched the hearts and minds of millions of people, including numerous world leaders, and he was a trusted adviser to many Fortune 500 companies. Ziglar passed away from pneumonia on November 28th, 2012 at the age of 86.
Zig once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” I could not agree more. Our accomplishments in life (altitude) are more often the result of positive resolve (attitude) than our proficiencies alone (aptitude).
So, what exactly is attitude? That depends on who’s defining the word. In the world of psychology, attitude may refer to a complex set of emotions, beliefs, and behaviors which characterizes a person. The Business Dictionary defines attitude as, “a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation.” In general, the way we react and/or behave toward people, stuff, or events is a reflection of our attitude.
Attitude can be both a friend and a foe. It will either draw people to us, or repulse them. Our attitude keeps meticulous records of past experiences, gives voice to our present circumstances, and often prophesies our future. So, how’s your attitude?
Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.” ~ Irving Berlin
A positive attitude is a choice. Nothing – not a person, place or thing – can force you to maintain a bad attitude. Sure, our environment and daily circumstances often effect our disposition. Fleeting irritabilities are usually emotional responses to some form of negative stimuli. We all experience times of moodiness. The danger to our attitude comes from wallowing in pessimism instead of fighting to overcome and change it. Extended negative sentiments will have an undesirable effect on our attitude. Simply put, we all have bad days but we must not allow the “toxic situations” to define our overall outlook on life.
Are you familiar with Thomas Jefferson? He was one of the founding Fathers of the United States of America, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the third President of the USA (1801–1809). Jefferson believed (in so many words) that your attitude will make or break you. The right attitude moves you forward toward achieving your purpose in life (goals) and a bad attitude renders you helpless. Here is what he actually said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Given his achievements, I think Mr. Jefferson can speak with some authority on this subject.
Interestingly enough, there is an Old Testament Biblical Proverb that says,
7 for as he thinks in his heart, so is he… (Proverbs 23:7a)
Just as our food intake affects our physical health (you are what you eat); our thoughts affect our mental and spiritual health (you are what you think and what you believe). Dwelling on undesirable thoughts will never result in a good and positive attitude (being around really negative people doesn’t help either, but we’ll save that for another day).
Here are three things I would like you to remember:
- Thoughts Determine Attitude
- Attitude Determines Behavior
- Behavior Determines Outcome
A mind that is focused on negative things will cultivate a bad attitude. Negative attitudes will impact our behavior, and over time, our behavior (actions) will determine the results in our life.
Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Saul of Tarsus, (aka: Paul) was a New Testament writer and apostolic pioneer. He knew the profound impact that our thoughts can have upon our attitude. He once wrote,
8 “…Dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on whatever is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about the things that are excellent and worthy of our praise”. – Philippians 4:8
To me, the Bible is an awesome book because it contains a superior wisdom that surpasses any human intelligence. Over my lifetime, I have learned to look to its pages for a foundation of “whatsoever is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” I have also come to realize that while our overall peace of mind emanates from the right kind of thinking (attitude), inner peace comes when we learn to commune with the Divine Spirit who made us (Creator). The process is often referred to as Prayer. The Biblical writer Paul once told the Faith community living in Philippi (an ancient city in eastern Macedonia in the southern Balkans),
6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray (talk to God) about everything. Tell Him what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in the truth of Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
Paul speaks of a transcendent peace that originates not from this world system, but from the source of life itself (God). This inner peace will place a guard around both our human spirit and the seat of our intellect (mind) when we choose to follow the words and the wisdom of that amazing otherworldly visitor known simply as Jesus. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
People with a positive attitude are influenced by what goes on within them. People with a negative attitude are influenced by what goes on around them.” ~ Keith Harrell
Charles Rozell Swindoll is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and broadcaster. His radio program, Insight for Living, airs on more than 2,000 Christian and non-Christian radio stations around the world and is translated into more than 15 languages. He is currently the senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas. Here is Chuck’s take on Attitude:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
Attitude: It will make you or it will break you. It can take you to the top, or drag you to the very depths of despair. You can choose to be positive and act like a conqueror, or you can capitulate to the negative and act as a victim of circumstance. It’s literally all up to you. Jesus once said to his followers,
“I have told you all these truths so that you may find your peace in me. You will find trouble in the world—but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)
Now that, my friends, is the greatest attitude of them all. And in this dark and often dangerous world, Attitude is everything!
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656