Why all this attention to attitude?
Up until a week before my 19th birthday, I would have wondered the same thing. At that point, the importance of attitude was still something left for me to discover. As a teenager, I had a fun, enthusiastic and gung ho attitude. And why not? I had the kind of life, job, friends, car, motorcycle, ski equipment and girlfriend/fiancé most teenagers would have loved. When all that disappeared in the years following my motorcycle crash, I had to work with what I had left.
I mentioned in earlier posts being drawn to the self help section of a local bookstore where I began discovering the power of attitude to change one’s perspective and thereby change his or her circumstances. This is when I first began learning that I could change my external circumstances by changing my internal reality.
My crash happened 3 decades ago, and my discovery process started soon thereafter, yet I am still amazed at how many of my problems, most of which I didn’t think were connected to my attitude, either disappeared or became small enough to manage once my attitude changed.
While my head injury did do physical damage to that part of my brain that gives one emotional stability, justifying behaviors and/or making excuses for behavior based on either real or imagined circumstances doesn’t get one very far. At first, I thought the doctors’ and psychologists’ explanations would excuse my behavior once I explained it to folks I offended.
People don’t care! No, that sounds colder than I meant for it to. By and large, people do care, but most people have enough concerns of their own and if your concerns are going to make their loads heavier than you are probably not someone they want to keep in their lives.
I tried many times before this, but when, nearly two decades after my crash, I was finally able to say on a continual basis, “OK, God, I’m not thrilled that I’m brain damaged and half paralyzed, but You spared my life and I’m ready to turn my life over to You. Do with me what You will.”
(In no way am I trying to define what God is or should be to you. Like many people, I have met so call God followers who weaken His church by claiming to be a member. To avoid controversy, let’s think of God as a Higher Power who is definable only by the person who claims to believe in Him, Her or It. In other words, you don’t get to say who anybody else’s God is.)
All I can say for sure is that my life got easier almost instantly when I turned my life over to God. My attitude improved so much that people quit avoiding me. When I quit living in the problem and started living in the solution, my bad attitude evaporated.
Acceptance takes away the negative power of my disability and any other problem I have. Whenever I find myself upset by a negative person, place, thing or situation, I have discovered that the negativity I’m experiencing is a result of my unwillingness to accept whatever it is that’s upsetting me.
There are an infinite number of things, disabilities, death of loved ones, extended unemployment, to name only a few, that life can throw at us that we may find unacceptable, so it has become clear to me that in order for me to have lasting peace, I must completely accept life on life’s terms. If I cannot do this, I cannot be happy.
Since it is unlikely that I’ll ever be able to control people, places, things or situations, it is clear that if I’m to be happy, I better focus on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
Going one step deeper in the next post, let’s ask why it is that still I sometimes have problems accepting some things.