“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.“ ~ Viktor E. Frankl
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” ~ John Lubbock
Imagine an emotions chart. On the bottom would be anger, resentment, depression, frustration, doubt, worry, and hopelessness. At the top would be joy, enthusiasm, passion, and optimism. So what moves you up and down the chart? Is it outside events? The things that happened to you? I say no – it’s your attitude about the things that happened to you.
Don’t think that’s true? Well let me make a case for this argument. I chose the two quotes at the top of this article for a reason. The first one is from Viktor Frankl, who was a concentration camp survivor. So if the outside events were the ones that powered your life what hope could he have of thriving? Instead, he demonstrated that even in the cruelest of instances, his attitude framed the event. His attitude had more power than the outside force, thus his life was defined from a point of power rather than a point of helplessness. In the most literal sense, your attitude defines your altitude on the emotions chart.
What are the reasons you are telling yourself for your attitude? Are you blaming your circumstances for how you feel? Or are you intentionally choosing to shift your perspective every time life throws you a curve ball?
The more responsibility you can take for your attitude the more joy you allow into your life.
The second quote shows us how attitude creates our world. This concept is best described by a West African folktale that goes like this:
There was once an elderly and wise gentleman who lived in a village. He would often spend his days sitting in the shade of a big tree in the center of the village, reading books and talking to passersby. One day, a traveler came upon his village and stopped and said, “Old man, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?”
The elderly gentleman looked up at him and replied, “Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found on your travels.”
The traveler scowled and said, “Old man, I have met people who cheat, steal, and aren’t kind to strangers, and people who don’t look out for one another.”
The elderly gentleman looked up and, with a faint look of sadness in his eyes, said, “Oh my friend, those are the people you will find in my village.” The traveler kicked the dirt under his feet, scoffed, and marched off towards the village.
By and by, as the elderly gentleman continued to enjoy his day, another traveler came walking through the village. Once again, the traveler stopped and asked, “Please kind sir, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?”
The elderly gentleman said, “Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found in your travels.”
The traveler replied, “I have found people who are kind and welcoming of strangers, people who care for one another, and people who love. These are the people I have met in my travels.”
The elderly gentleman looked up and, with the faintest smile in his eyes, said, “My friend, those are the people you will find in my village.”
So what world is your attitude creating? Look around. Are you looking for things that annoy you? Are you looking for problems and worries? Or like the second traveler are you looking for good things in your life? Are you actively seeking the silver lining around every event? Remember, everything that has ever happened to you has gotten you here. So without these experiences, you would not know what you know nor could you have the good things you have now.
“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.” ~ Khalil Gibran
April’s joy-full lesson is to take a big picture view to hold onto a positive attitude. That way you will actively create the joy you want in your life.