With the dawn of a new year come the requisite New Year's resolutions to lose weight, to be a better person and, in my case, to shave a few strokes off the golf handicap. But I've also decided to focus on the principle that suggests that life is really about the 90 percent of how we react to the 10 percent of what happens to us on a daily basis. And 2013 promises to give us ample opportunity to practice this philosophy if the latter part of 2012 is any indication of what may lie ahead.
The stark reality of the present is that every day seems to reveal another piece of harrowing news about wars and ethnic strife, looming financial crises and fiscal cliffs, and yet more layoffs and plant closings. But for all these dire conditions, can anyone argue that life has never been better in terms technological advances, ease of getting from one end of the earth to the other, medical care, and access to news, information, and education?
To adopt a positive attitude in the face of all the negativity that surrounds us is not to play Pollyanna or to ignore reality. Rather, it is to adopt the attitude espoused by Winston Churchill during the dark days of World War II who encouraged his fellow Brits to never abandon the "stiff upper lip" approach to challenges, just as their ancestors had done for generations. "Keep Calm and Carry On" has never had more applicability than in today's world.
My resolution, then, is to look to those who have gone before, especially in my own family and within our own community, and emulate their examples of fortitude and persistence. While difficult times will invariably persist, the one thing I can control on a daily basis is my attitude. I will refuse to be dour and long-faced. Rather, I will be relentlessly optimistic and positive and will encourage my colleagues to be the same.
I will look to the example of Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, who lost his entire family in the extermination camps save one sister and whose life's work focused on the power of attitude as the ultimate determinant of success or failure. Dr. Frankl once wrote: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Best wishes for a most prosperous and productive 2013!