But the true source of attitude comes from the heart.
It’s interesting that people are often described as having either a good attitude or a bad attitude. Even when someone says, “You’ve got an attitude,” it means a bad one.
Perhaps we start most days with a neutral attitude before building a negative or positive shell around it. Sometimes it’s easy to construct the happy facade. You might come into some unexpected money, or nagging allergies are kept under wraps, or maybe you see something on Facebook that makes you smile.
At other times it’s tempting to smooth the brick mortar into the crevices of a negative structure. Perhaps you meet an unexpected bill, or maybe your new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu, or Twitter makes you frown.
Regardless of which road you take, attitude is important. How important? Maybe even life or death. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive attitude may increase your life span, lower rates of depression, give stronger resistance to the common cold, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve your coping skills during hardships.
Of course it’s possible to spin those things on the negative wheel by dwelling on your age (wrinkles, declining athleticism, etc.), focusing on the tiny annoyances of life, or maybe losing a sense of purpose.
Like most things in life, attitude isn’t a cut-and-dried approach. A person can enter the day with the best of intentions to have a positive outlook. Then the Pop Tart burns in the toaster, the cat summons up a hairball surprise on your couch, it’s pouring rain as you leave home and your umbrella is at work, or maybe you hit every traffic light just as it turns red on your way back home — and you forgot to DVR James Holzhauer’s latest “Jeopardy!” foray.
Sometimes the cannon blasts of despair present a more defined path for attitude choices. When heart-crushing things happen, it can come down to giving up or bravely forging ahead. Local teacher-coach Michael Smelser comes to mind as a man who is in the process of conquering a huge physical blow with an incredibly wonderful attitude.
But while life comes like a hurricane at times, it also uses subterfuge. Sinister darts fly toward our happiness, some so small they may not even feel like a pinch. But they each have a sharp point that wounds — eventually or immediately — if your shield isn’t raised and ready.
So how does a person overcome the overwhelming, along with the sneak attacks by minutia? A remedy can be found in an ancient letter penned in a prison cell. It requires nothing more than the thought process, allowing only the following eight areas of consideration: whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.
It takes practice, but the end result of thinking about those things is peace. And not just any peace, but the kind that surpasses all understanding.