Our Attitude Is Everything

09/09/2014 05:44 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

Charles R. Swindoll, author of the widely read book, The Grace Awakening, writes this about attitude, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude is more important than the past, than education, money, circumstances, failures and successes and much more than what other people think, say or do." He goes on to write that neither our appearances, giftedness, skills do not impact our lives as much as our attitude. Our attitude unlike other facts in our lives is something we can control and if necessary change each and every day of our lives depending on what we are facing that day. We cannot change our past, predict our future, change how others act and react towards us; in other words these are matters beyond our control-we cannot change the inevitable. As Swindoll writes, "I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it." We are all in charge of our attitudes.

This brings me to discuss the necessity of making an ongoing self-assessment of our attitude toward our core life values. Mine are Love, Generosity, Gratitude and Compassion. One by one, I encourage you to check into our attitude toward what you claim as your highest values to make sure that we continuously purify and uplift our lives in very practical ways.

What is my attitude toward, for example, helping others? When I want to be generous but feel conflicted about giving money, time, attention, service or a smile, am I feeling a blockage of some sort that's keeping me from giving? If there's fear, anger, confusion, resentment or any other life-constricting feeling that's interfering with my desire to be generous at any given moment, I can ask, "Where does this feeling come from?" From my culture, from society in general, from my early family experiences, my role models, from my religious background, from a specific event or some traumatic experience related to the value of generosity?

Once I have detected the source of the obstacle, I may ask, "Is this attitude still true for me? Is it an accurate depiction of reality as I understand it now? Is this attitude useful or helpful for me in this phase of my life? Does this attitude help me feel happy inside at this moment?"

If not, then I ask if there's a different attitude I could take toward being generous with my time, energy, attention, finances or any other way. What other attitude could I take toward giving generously?

Victor Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist and university professor during the Third Reich, wrote that the last great freedom of humanity is attitude. No matter how drastic or extreme the circumstance may be, as it was for Frankl being a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp, we are still free to choose our attitude toward 'what is'. In Man's Search for Meaning, he wrote that "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."

My personal recommendation is to replace all negative events with positive thoughts. For example, if you get a parking ticket, be grateful you have a car; similarly if someone is stressed about studying, they can be grateful they can afford an education, kids being a little challenging, be grateful they are healthy enough to create the noise and that you are a parent. And the list can go on...A positive attitude can completely change your life. A positive attitude is an inside job. You are responsible for your attitude. Start taking full responsibility for your attitude today. For a peaceful life, accept your realities as they are with a positive attitude and don't wish things were different.