I don’t care how hard one tries to “look on the bright side.” There are times when “stuff” happens and it’s just plain difficult to get back to an upbeat view.
As the story goes, a couple is concerned about the huge gap in attitudes between their two sons.
One lad is a confirmed pessimist, his sibling the decisive optimist. Wanting to advance the cynical child’s outlook and guard the other from disappointment by teaching him that things don’t always go as expected, the parents come up with a scheme.
On Christmas morning, each youngster awakens to find his own sizeable, wrapped present. The dour child opens his and discovers in it the ultimate building set. As if on que, his demeanor sours and he whines, “There are too many pieces, I’m know I’ll lose a whole bunch of them and then I’ll be sad. Why would you do that to me?”
The upbeat sibling, on the other hand, unwraps his only to find a dirty, rusty horseshoe atop wads of paper. Undeterred by what appears to be a mean, lousy gift, he eagerly starts digging through the papers excitedly proclaiming, “Wow! There’s got to a pony in here somewhere!”
Attitude, our outlook on the events that make up our lives, will either elevate or ruin us because it determines our actions and therefore the manner in which others react to us.
I normally don’t write “how-to” columns but a coaching client recently asked how she could become more upbeat, so I thought, “What the heck, might as well share it more widely.” Making our planet a bit more cheery, one reader at a time, here are four of the more common reasons one’s attitude can take a trip to the dumpster.
Reason #1: All-or-nothing thinking
They are numerous, ever-present, ubiquitous; present at work, parties, and even family gatherings.
If attitude is indeed contagious, they are the Ebola virus of a positive outlook. Bringing their own “gloomy sunshine” wherever they go, they leave behind a trail of mental and emotional destruction wider than a hurricane’s wake. Should we discover the cure to all illnesses tomorrow, they would protest that it put the doctors out of business.
We can tell they’re nearby, even before they open their mouths. Dour expressions firmly etched into grim-faced expressions and unconstrained bitterness dripping from their souls, they pummel, pound, and persist until they reveal the dark cloud behind any silver lining. Even after short encounters with these denizens of dourness, their dark energy can drain the happiness from even the most upbeat individual. They are Eyore to our Tigger, Ying to our Yang, frowns to our smiles; they are (insert ominous music…) the “bearers of badatude.”
Whether it’s due to the state of the world, the change in seasons, or just bad luck, they do seem to have multiplied lately. (Maybe it’s their mating season?) For whatever the reason, it seems more difficult to avoid them than it used to be.
Ever the helper — and in the interest of public service and a better community attitude — I offer a few suggestions on how to deal with complainers.
Rule One: Understand that when a freight train is roaring down the tracks at you, GET OUT OF THE FREAKIN’ WAY! Do not plant yourself firmly, attempting to block its path, expecting to convince it to take the switch. Instead, realize that batatude folks are better about plowing you over and dragging your formerly upbeat demeanor into a negative mood than you will ever be at changing their direction. They are professionals; having honed the dark art to a fine talent, they inflict bad attitude among even the most optimistic individuals. You — on the other hand — pale in experience when it comes to turning it around. It’s not a fair competition; don’t even try. You will lose. Move elsewhere; if not physically, then certainly to the happy place in your head.
Having not been able to circumnavigate Mister Miserable, the next step is to put it in perspective by employing the “Five Year Rule.”
People with “Badittude” are better about ruining your attitude than you are about correcting theirs.
Some people just want to be “cranky.” Try as you might, there’s not a thing you can do to change them. They are professionals at what they do – and you are an amateur at getting them to stop doing it.
When you see someone coming at you with “badittude,” send love and compassion their way, but step out of the way.
It does neither of you any good to both be victims of a poor attitude.
The purpose of the I3 (The International Inspiration Index) is to get a feel for how people are feeling, what’s bothering them, and their outlook for the future. It started in late April, 2009 and is published every one to two months.
If you would like to take the ongoing I3 survey, go to www.AttitudeIndex.com.
Questions #1 #2: How’s your attitude – as well as those around you
The highest month for personal attitude remains July of 2009 with a 4.1o. Currently, we rate our attitude at 3.8 and the attitude of those around us at 3.4 (the weather seemed to play a big deal as you’ll see from the comments). Last January, the same numbers were 3.7 and 3.6 respectively. It’s interesting to note that, with one exception, “My Attitude” has always outscored “Others Attitudes.” In effect, we tend to think our attitude is fine; it’s the attitude of those around us that need work. However, it’s important to remember that they’re doing the same thing with us. And since attitude communicates, we have a pre-disposition to go into a conversation assuming the other person isn’t as positive as we are. That can certainly bias our communication.
As always, my standard disclaimer is that so far the samples are not very large (averaging 36 a month) and the survey is self-selecting so we don’t know how accurate it is.