How to Change Your Attitude

Dr. Laura’s theme song shouts, “Get a new attitude.” Can a negative thinker refocus and become more positive? From personal experience as well as the progress of my clients, I believe it is possible to change one’s outlook. Here are suggestions for the transformation from negative to positive.

Reason your way out of negativity. Reevaluate your assumptions. How many times have you looked for the worse and it did not happen? Things actually turned out okay. Were you dismayed or thankful? Keep track of your inaccurate downer predictions. Be thankful for being wrong. Be thankful for being right but still surviving.

Develop new pictures. We think in pictures and unconsciously replay the mind’s photo album. Force yourself to conjure up positive scenarios. Instead of projecting what could go wrong, focus on what is right. When things are less than perfect, use your pre-disposed downer attitude to see how bad it could have been. Be thankful things are as good as they are.

Acknowledge lack of control.
Misery comes from the failure to accept what is. Concede to those things over which you have no control or little control. Things like another person, the weather, the stock market, down turn in the economy, war, crime, loss, tragedies…. If you cannot do anything about it anyway, why fret. Through the intentional development of a positive view you put yourself in a position to become a problem solver, an encourager or a helpful influence.

Do what comes unnaturally. Go against the grain and choose to do what does not come naturally. In routine situations where you would normally spout criticism, pause to deliberately keep your mouth shut and to intentionally - with conscious effort – look for something good. This implies work, focus and resolve. Be persistent and do not give up.
Become positive in seeing the positive.

Be aware. Notice how a positive attitude will serve you well. In frustrating situations ask yourself the following questions. Deep thinking about these questions will help you find solutions and peace and improved relationships all around - with you and others.

What do I want?
What do I really want?
What are you doing to get what you really want?
Is it working?
Is it really working?
What makes it work?
Why is it not working?
Where is the locus of control?

Give change time. All skills have a learning curve. Be persistent and do not give up.
A client remarked one day, “I’ve changed, but I don’t know when it happened.”

When you decide to consciously realign your thought habits, things take on a different perspective. Keep on keeping on until your new overcoming attitude comes naturally who you are.

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Changing Times and Theories

Although there is “nothing new under the sun”, recent scientific discoveries confirm some long held theories. One such is the science of Epigenetics. This forty-plus year field of study is current headline news and magazine articles. The research is proving that our genes are not so hard-wired after all. The genes literally change depending upon how our bodies respond (react) to the events and environs around us.

According to Bruce Lipton, a leading voice of Epigenetics, every gene in our body can be modified by “our perceptions, thoughts and response to events.”

Actually we have been doing this all along, only we did not know it. How? Through adrenaline surge that propels heroic acts or the parasympathetic glands that slows us down to comatose - depending on what is needed. If one sees himself controlled by outside forces, he/she becomes a victim of circumstances. Gives in. Settles. Surrenders. Resigns to “That’s just the way I am. I can’t help it. I was born this way.”

Only we have more control over our lives than we may be willing to take responsibility for.

So why is change difficult? It goes back to the wonder-years when we were young and programmable: perceptions were immature, thoughts were creative and responses to events were childish. These early influences shaped our world-view both positive and negative. And they are hard to give up, even when we want to.

Compare it to losing weight. How does an obese body full of sugar-craving genes change into a lean health machine? It happens through changed perceptions about food and its function - from nurture to nutrition. It happens through revised thinking about health and the value of unclogged arteries. It happens through the body’s (genes) natural response to exerting more energy than consumption. Cells continually adjust. As the fat cells change, so does the body and so does the thinking and so does the emotions.

Perception and thinking come primarily from the brain. The brain wants to protect the body so it releases chemicals in response to the environment. As one changes how he responds to any given situation, the body’s chemical composition changes. The brain releases one chemical combination when a person becomes angry and another chemical combination when that sane person becomes calm.

Which chemicals do you want released in your body? Change your perception of the stressful event and the cells change.

Our fate is not totally in our genes. It has a lot to do with the day-to-day dynamics of how we respond to life. What we believe switches the genes mechanics “on” and “off”. As a man thinks in his heart so is he - or so he becomes. Physically as well as all the other “llys” - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally and financially. Give it some thought.
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When Reality Sets In

While reading to my granddaughter she suddenly exclaimed, “Nana, you have something on your face.” She said it looked like pencil marks between my eyebrows.

After unsuccessful attempts to wipe it off, I looked in the mirror. It was not pencil marks. It was wrinkles. Deep ones.

Long ago I came to peaceful terms with the reality of death. I know that each of us has been allotted only so many days on this earth, I guess I just never expected to look like I was aging.
Since the announcement of those first wrinkles, others have joined the ranks. I’m okay with that and gracefully settle into being a senior adult.

The way one perceives life becomes his reality – only it may not actually be real. The reality is that all of us alive at this moment are aging and have benchmarks to verify it. That does not discount one’s viability as a human being with infinite worth and value.

A current mantra is “Fifty is the new thirty.” Does that mean that thirty is the new ten?

On the front of a birthday card was the question: “What is the difference in a 40-year-old and a 4- year-old?” Answer: “The 4-year-old wants to grow up.” Is this inferring that a 40-plus often remains childish by adopting the immature foot-stomping stance of Peter Pan?

Is our society so obsessed with youth, that, in spite of advancing years, the population convinces itself that aging is bad? Wisdom does not necessarily come with advancing years. Humility is acceptance of one’s humanness including positives and negatives, strengths and limitations, abilities and diminishing facilities. I suggest humility and wisdom are akin.

Wisdom comes when we release childhood misconceptions for adult realities. Life does not stand still. We are growing or dying, enlarging or shrinking, maturing or reverting to juvenile behavior. To resist changing makes growth difficult, if not impossible.

How freeing to embrace another tomorrow with anticipation of acquired wisdom. Live life so the spirit stays young. Take care of the package and embrace the reality of aging.

On CBS’s Sunday Morning (11-29-09), Anthony Mason talked with rocker Tom Petty about his many accomplishments, life and the future. Mason mentioned Petty’s apparent ease with the encroachment of the Big Six-O (60) birthday.

Tom Petty accepts the reality of aging with his philosophy of: “If you’re not getting older, you’re dead.”

Good insight. Let us live while we are alive, wrinkles and all.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Pictures of You

Nothing shapes relationships and success like the picture you have of yourself. The trouble is we often assume our identity based on hearsay, and therefore, give too much weight to what others say. Although you are a product of your environment you can choose to not be victimized by it. When you feel valued for being yourself, a healthy body image comes naturally.

Allow the following questions to aid in your search for self-discovery.

What identity have you assumed without giving thought to? Even positive labels can be difficult as it sets up always trying to meet someone else’s standard of you. (You will never amount to anything? You are the smart one.)

How have you been victimized by your environment? (Men are the boss. A woman is supposed to make everyone happy. Kids are to be seen and not heard.) Your turn.

Learn to love you.
Get to know the wonderful being you are. Listen to your own heartbeat and be willing to follow your dreams. Make friends with your conscience and heed its guidance. Experiment with your talents and creativity. Fine tune your unique personality and sense of humor. What innate gifts and talents have you been ignoring?

Process of elimination. Figure out who you are by figuring out who you are not. When you know who you do not want to be or what you do not want to do, you are ready to chart your own course. Focus on who you want to become and it is easier to relinquish the thought habits that are keeping you bound. List at least three things that you are not. (I am not a push over. I do not use fowl language. I am not a play thing to be used.)

Send fear packing. When fear of becoming who you are knocks on your door, allow faith to answer. Instead of inviting him in, put your hand up as if to block entrance while firmly saying “Stop” aloud. Embrace the seed of hope that plants. Determine five things you will say “stop” to.

Live in integrity and within your unique calling, personality and style. Be the best you possible, not a makeover of someone else, not the embodiment of another’s ideal of you, but the you that you were created and gifted to become. Grooming has its place, but you are more than your hair, or your grades, or your job, or whatever limited label you have ascribed to you. What have you labeled yourself as that you are more than? (I am more than my education… my family… my associates… my past…)

Decrease harmful materialism. Do not use stuff as proof of your self-worth. Putting material things in their proper place increases personal satisfaction, contentment, creativity and community. It also improved psychological health. What have you been using to prove your self-worth? (Wardrobe? Car? Home? Job? Education? Athletic kids? Mate’s success?)

Foster a healthy selfishness. It is okay to take care of you. What you want matters. Follow the airlines suggestion and “put on your oxygen mask first” before helping another. As you take care of you, it becomes easier to be selfless. How are you neglecting you? (I go to work even when I am sick. I put my others wants/needs above mine. I do whatever my mate wants and never voice my opinion. I agree with others even when I do not agree.)

Discover the foundation of happiness. It is more internal qualities than external beauty. Happy people are less self-centered and more loving, helpful, forgiving, trusting social, involved, decisive and energetic. What internal foundation of happiness have you been ignoring? (I enjoy gardening. I like to read.) What foundation of happiness have you been fostering and feeling guilty over because it does not meet another’s standard? (I choose to be a stay-at-home parent. I choose to drive an older vehicle to remain debt free.)

People overcome negative influences every day and you can too. You are a product of your environment, but can choose to not be victimized by it. Enjoy the exciting adventure of discovery – a journey that never ends. Give three specifics ways in which you will overcome.
(I will speak up even when I feel intimidated. I will not say “Yes” when it is not in my best interest.)


Loyalty Above All, Except Honor

Honor is as real to the human condition as love. Honor is formulated by one’s experiences, dignity and character; it is the totality of an individual’s trustworthiness and based on his social status, attitudes and actions. In teaching classes on character qualities such as integrity and honor, I am sometimes asked, “Are you telling me that you never do anything wrong, not even speed.”

My answer: “I do not intentionally speed.” I am not saying that I never do anything wrong; I am saying that I listen to my conscience and I do not “practice sin”. When my conscience is pricked, I take careful measures to heed the warning, evaluate and make corrections. My deepest desire is to be more than I am; to be true to my innate gifting.

Insight leads to change. Whether one believes it or not, we have enough light for the step we are on.

Which moral value is the most important? What does self-respect mean?
Honor: mark of distinction, respect, admiration, credit, reputation, tribute, principle, nobility, pride, mark of distinction, award, prize (Antonym: shame, disgrace)

“I was the perfect con man. No one could do it better than me. Others would marvel at the way I could talk my way out of any tight spot or talk someone else into doing whatever I wanted. Then one day I was sitting all alone on my cot looking through the bars on my window and a question hit me: If I was all that great and masterful, why had nine out of my last eleven years been spent in a cell?” The Con Game, Serenity Support Services, Inc. (used without permission)

Honor is a principle – not a rule – and is open to interpretation. Dr. Samuel Johnson suggests that honor has several senses with the most important ones being “nobility of soul, magnanimity and a scorn of meanness.” Dictionary of the English Language

Formula for change: Decision + Discipline + Divinity = Destiny
  • Make a decision - basic; think through, ponder, come to a conclusion
  • Develop discipline - determine steps and summons the courage to take them
  • Divinity - God’s help is imperative. It is not magic but it is a mystery

Develop an “edit function”. Those without an edit function are into people pleasing or doing the “in” thing, without regard to moral values and often to their own harm. It does not take honor to self-protect or to go along with the crowd. It takes honor to do what scares you. The self-protection of loyalty in the face of honor deceptively cushions one for his personal stupidity. A powerful enforcing tool in conformity is shunning.

We live in community and look around us to determine what is normal. Perception is based on two realities: 1) general observation of others and 2) specific personal experience. When they match, we assume it to be truth. When there is dissonance, we are in the position to embrace and to change.

Every choice has it own set of new circumstances. The devil you don’t know is better than the devil you know? Getting rid of one devil one may bring honor, but it also may bring negative ramifications. There are devils everywhere. As you get honest with you, you find that roaring monsters live in the dark and light exposes them to be the squeaking mice they really are.