10 Jan How’s Your Attitude?
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. – Charles R. Swindoll
I’ve noticed that when I say “Hi” to some people I pass by these days, they’re more than likely to use a popular street-speak reply that sounds more like, “Howru” Or, “’Sup.” Note the absence of a question mark. They’re not asking. Feeling not so much acknowledged as texted, it’s easy to feel a bit saddened, or even annoyed, at the lack of any real interaction. It’s phony caring, a leftover from preceding generations that used to go, “How are you?” meaning, I care.
If caring among strangers is endangered, years ago I devised a fun solution to keep it alive. With many folks I meet, both friends and unknowns such as waitpersons in restaurants or service personnel who work on my house, I play a sort of game. I ask the person, “How’s it going?” Whatever their answer, I assign it a number.
If the person says “Okay,” then I listen for the tone of their voice, and say, “Sounds like about a Six.” Getting right away that I’m putting their attitude on a Zero-to-Ten happiness scale, they either agree thoughtfully, or say, “No-o, I’d say a seven; maybe even an eight.” So, some truly self-upgrade my rating. If, to my query they answer, “Great!” and I know they mean it, then my answer is, “Wow! Is that a Nine, or a full Ten?” And we laugh, sharing our mutual satisfaction in their happiness report.
Why on earth would I take the occasion to “number” people’s moods? Several reasons:
- People appreciate someone’s actually taking the time to tune in to their feelings.
- Some will choose to open up and share information about circumstances in their lives.
- It gives them instant feedback on what they’re putting out into the world.
- It invites them to upgrade their own feelings on the spot.
So, more than just a game, it’s actually a way to share the power of a famous observation made over a century ago by psychologist William James:
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that
a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
One theory in psychology research suggests that we all have a happiness “set-point” that largely determines our overall well-being. We oscillate around this set point, becoming happier when something positive happens or the opposite, afterwards returning to an equilibrium point.
But this set-point, to a certain extent, can be reset. Although our general mood levels and well-being are partially determined by factors like genetics and upbringing, roughly 40 percent of our happiness is within our control. In fact, a large body of research in the field of positive psychology has shown that happiness is a choice that anyone can make.
So, how’s your attitude?
Nation on Leadership: Attitude is a choice, and we are free to upgrade our personal happiness reports at any time. The power is ours. Always guard your attitude carefully, as it is a pearl of great price.