Attitude Why You Need to Guard it Carefully

   You can count on it, we're all going to experience a certain amount of pleasure as we journey through life. Sometimes we'll feel like we own the world, at other times we'll feel like giving up.

   Over the years I've discovered that it isn't easy to maintain a good attitude when difficult times arrive. Yet, this is one of the most important things we can do. 

   The person who allows his attitude to get bent out of shape when bad things occur (when he feels he's been abused or mistreated) is going to bring  a lot of unhappiness on himself. The reason for this is, his attitude is going to color the way he thinks, the way he feels, and the way he responds to almost everything in life. 

   We can"t separate ourselvesfromour attitude any more than we can separate ourselves from our shadow. For good or for evil the attitude we possess accompanies us everywhere we go. It stands at the core of our being, shaping the way we hint and feel about almost everything. 

The attitude one has toward his work affects his performance. The attitude he has toward his studies affects his grades. The attitude he has toward his partner affects his marriage. The attitude he has toward his neighbor affects his relationship. If he has a charitable attitude toward his neighbor, he'll feel like baking him a cake; if he has a hostile attitude toward him he'll feel like scattering nails in his driveway. Nothing influences our emotions more deeply than the attitude we possess. It can cause them to swing anywhere from cheerfulness to depression.

      One doesn't have to be around another person very long before he can sniff out what sort of attitude he possesses. A positive attitude produces a positive person; a sour attitude produces a sour person; a suspicious attitude produces a suspicious person; a resentful attitude produces a resentful person. There's a real sense in which we are what our attitude is, because it so thoroughly colors our personality. 

   The little boy who says, "If I can't pitch I'll take my ball and go home," the man who says, "I've been hurt so I'm quitting this office", the employee who continually comes to work late and does his job poorly, all have the same thing in common: they have an attitude problem.

   I've had to dismiss several people from their jobs during the past few years. In nearly every case their dismissal didn't spring from a lack of ability to do their work, but rather a bad attitude toward it.

  It's so easy to think we're being overworked and underpaid, to become resentful because we're not getting what we deserve. It's so easy to think we're entitled to a higher position than our performance merits, or to become resentful because we feel we're being mistreated. Even if we had been resentment isn't the answer. Resentment isn't going to solve the problem or turn the situation around. All it's going to do is make things worse.

   It's easy to maintain a good attitude when everything is going our way. It's when bad things happen--when an expected promotion doesn't materialize or an expected raise doesn't occur--that a good attitude is difficult to maintain. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I am saying it's extremely important to maintain a good attitude even when bad things happen. Our happiness depends upon it. I can honestly say I don't ever remember meeting a happy person who had a bad attitude. It seems to me that a negative attitude and unhappiness always travel together.

   Is it possible, you may ask, to maintain a cheerful attitude when bad things happen? Absolutely! That's exactly what Paul admonishes us to do in Phillipians 2:5-7: "Let this mind (our attitude) be in you," he says, "which was in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God,..made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men."

   Paul admonishes us to maintain the same kind of attitude--in the midst of our successes and in the midst of our failures--in the midst of our joys and in the midst of our sorrows--that Christ would maintain if he were in our shoes. This doesn't leave much room for pride, bitterness, resentment, or self-pity.

   The one thing about our attitude for which we can be thankful is that it isn't set in conctrete. it can be changed.

Certain things in life are ours by nature or birth rather than choice--a gravelly voice, a large nose, a freckled face, etc. There's not much we can do about these. Thankfully, however, with our attitude it is different. Our attitude hasn't been foisted upon us by birth. It's something we acquire. And it's something we can change. I may have to live with the fact that I wasn't born with striking beauty, but I don't have to live with a negative, suspicious or distrustful attitude. To have one of these is to have it by choice. My attitude is what I choose it to be, otherwise, I'd change it.

   Just because someone has mistreated you is no reason to let it poison your spirit. Through the power of Christ you can return love for hate, blessing for cursing, forgiveness for injury. The attitude you possess is always a matter of choice. You can choose, for instance, to be grateful for the little you have or to be disgruntled because you don't have some things you'd like. We're free to respond to the blessings and hardships of life in whatever way we please.

   Illustration: Two soldiers were stationed in London during the Second World War. Both were directing planes in and out of the runway on their bombing missions. The weather was damp and cold, the airfield was ankle-deep in mud. One soldier whistled as he worked; the other grumbled and complained. The situation was the same for both. Their attitude was what made the difference.

   When the disgruntled soldier asked his friend how he could be so cheerful in this mess, he replied, "I decided long agao, when I found myself in a situation that I did not like but could not change, that I would adjust my attitude to fit the situation." And he did.

   It goes without saying, to the degree your attitude is out-of-joint, it needs to be changed. It needs to be changed for your own good, for the good of your family, and for the good of your friends. Anyone who possesses a bad attitude is painful to be around. Plus he's his own worst enemy. I've never seen a bad attitude accomplish anything constructive. The only thing it does is increase our unhappiness.

   Why do people choose to possess a bad attitude rather than a good one? The only reason I can think of is that they derive some sort of pleasure from feeling sorry for themselves. They'd rather complain about their woes than be thankful for their blessings. That's sad because life is simply too short to get bogged down with an attitude that compounds our miseries.

   Anyone who's been observant knows that happiness comes far more quickly to those who have good attitudes than to those who don't. I urge you, therefore, to remain loving in the face of injury, trusting in the face of disappointment, forgiving in the face of abuse. Start praining God for the good things you have, your job, your health, your family, your friends, etc., and it will bring happiness to your life.

   Guard your attitude carefully. It has the ability to do you a great deal of good or a gret deal of harm. Whenever it starts to get out of line, bring it to a heel. Rich rewards will be yours if you'll go the second mile, give others the benefit of the doubt, be quick to forgive, and by all means remain thankful for your blessings.

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