A to Z Challenge | Intentional Living | A is For Attitude

AIn an effort to get back into writing on a regular schedule, I joined the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. This is the first time I’ve participated and hope to succeed with posting each day, as my blog has grown dormant. 

My theme is “A Vocabulary for Intentional Living.” This corresponds with the objective of my blog, which sees life as a voyage shaped by circumstances both within and outside of our control. Realizing our purpose and goals begins with self-awareness and mindfulness in all our daily choices.


Life isn’t linear; it’s filled with ups and downs. During rough times it’s easy to become cynical. Negativity is fast-acting and doesn’t require any mental discipline. Choosing a positive outlook in the face of adversity is hard work. For most people it doesn’t come naturally. It requires deliberate practice and patience.

Understanding what motivates our attitudes involves keen self-awareness. In my view, this is the foundation for living intentionally. Fully understanding oneself: the good, the bad, and the ugly, is the first step to a more meaningful life.


The only disability in life is a bad attitude. ~Scott Hamilton

It’s easy to recognize people with bad attitudes. They display them in a variety of ways: sarcasm, victimization, and anger, to name a few. Feeling cheated and short-changed, they’re quick to share their disdain for the many perceived offenses put upon them by society, the government, and even God.

And then there are people with amazing attitudes! In the face of serious problems they’re able to maintain an appreciation for the life that just handed them lemons. They don’t spend time feeling sorry for themselves, rather they approach the situation from a position of strength. Utilizing the resources available they set about to solve the problems, not bemoan them. 

Our attitudes are formed at an early age through nature and nurture. Our families of origin have the important task of teaching the first fundamentals of what will become our world view. Extended family, friends, and teachers then form the “village” that raises us and shapes our attitudes toward everything in life. This is clearly and succinctly illustrated in the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte entitled  Children Learn What They Live. 

Living with intention is deciding each day to be conscious of who we are, what our value system is, and our path in life. It’s planning well-thought out goals and the ways to achieve them. This demands time and attention, something in short supply in our busy, hectic lives.

How we think about and handle the triumphs and tragedies of life depend on our attitudes. Consider how people’s attitudes play a part in what occurs in society today.

Remember things like common courtesy and the greater good? The focus now is on “me” instead of “we” and we’re losing our humanity in the process.

When we change a narrow attitude to one of open mindedness the potential for learning and growth increases dramatically.

Winston Churchill once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” I think attitude is a BIG thing that makes a HUGE difference.

What do you think?


 

How To Be Victorious in One Postive Step

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Some of the toughest battles we fight are with ourselves.

Whether it’s having that second piece of pie or getting the last word in a disagreement, we often act impulsively instead of deliberately with careful thought.

Everyday life is filled with external stress that comes from our relationships, jobs and a multitude of other places. While it’s impossible to control these outside circumstances, we do have the power to control our attitudes about them.

I’ve written before about the need for self-reflection when it comes to building a better life and relationships. Understanding ourselves fully will explain why we react to certain people and situations in the ways that we do.

In turn, this understanding teaches us to harness automatic emotions and use careful thought and reasoning when making decisions. Foresight makes hindsight unnecessary.

But, where do these automatic emotions come from?

If a given experience or person causes us to have a negative reaction then we’ll associate the next similar experience with suspicion and distrust. Sometimes simply thinking about the person/experience is enough to trigger bad feelings. This is called generalization of learning and can reinforce the self-defeating behaviors that often result.  

However, we must consciously want to develop this skill and that requires changing how we think.

None of us is 100% right all the time. Our different worldviews and histories shape our opinions and beliefs. We certainly have our unique perceptions of things, but that doesn’t mean the other person is wrong.

It simply means that your experience and his/hers are different, as well as the impressions that go along with those experiences.


When we think of being victorious it’s usually in the context of winning a competition with someone else.

But, many hard-fought victories involve ourselves. Understanding our habit of viewing other people and ideas in a certain way will help us identify the areas we need to work on. 

If we remain rigid in our opinions and unwilling to listen to another’s POV, then we’re destined to remain stuck. No personal growth is possible.

But, why do people choose ignorance over enlightenment? I believe it’s due to familiarity and fear. We’re more comfortable with things that are familiar and we’re fearful of looking incompetent.

Stepping outside our comfort zone and being vulnerable requires a lot of courage. We want to feel safe and that’s more easily achieved in a familiar environment. Being vulnerable means admitting we’re “less than perfect.” 

Research professor Brene Brown warns that perfectionism shouldn’t be confused with self-improvement. In this interview with Forbes magazine she comments that healthy striving is self-focused: how can I improve. Perfectionism is other-focused: what will they think?

To be conquered by our own negativity and narrow-mindedness is truly a shame. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Conquering those demons requires honesty about our fears and failings, which is never easy. We must acknowledge our weaknesses and work to overcome them. Realizing that other people struggle with their own doubts and limitations can help us change our perspective. Once we’re able to see through a more neutral lens our feelings and attitudes will change for the better!