“You’ve got a real attitude” is not generally considered to be a compliment. But you can have an attitude if you want…a good one (or at least, a better one than you woke up with.) It’s easier than you think.  Nope, I’m not setting myself up to be your Oprah or Dr. Phil or whoever the latest guru is. But I know, through sometimes bitter experience, that I’m the only person in charge of my attitude. Sure, there are factors that make it harder to have a positive outlook, but it’s my reaction to those factors that counts. It’s just like getting angry. “Things” don’t make me angry; I allow myself to get angry in response to them…although I admit some “things” are more difficult to get past than others. Still, it’s me in charge of how I react, not the people or things. So the only reason I’m writing this is, although I shudder to say it, I’ve been there, done that. And I’m still being there and doing that more than I’d like.

Driving is a perfect time for attitudes to not only surface but to be acted out. Our younger daughter says that most drivers, me being one of the few exceptions, look angry all the time. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that I’m a paid-up subscriber to the idea that driving can be (and often is) quite annoying. But I’ve found the best way to change my attitude while driving is to put on a smile (small one, not a full-fledged, Cheshire Cat smile that might get me picked up for suspicion of drug usage! Although it might keep people away from me and I’ll have more driving room.) If I start smiling, even just a little, I often find more things to smile about (or maybe my face just hardens like that, but whatever.) While driving, these things to smile about sometimes include the weird things other drivers are doing, but they might also include any good thoughts I can muster up while sitting in barely moving traffic (and no, that doesn’t include running someone off the road.) Leaving a bit earlier helps, too.

‘Tis said that “music soothes the savage beast” so you might try putting on some soothing music. (Did I just call you a savage beast?  Whoops!) Soothing music may differ from person to person but anything that gets you too psyched up isn’t considered soothing for the effects desired in this post. Something without words is good, too. Come to think about it, though, any non-aggressive music, even if it’s (for me) old rock, will work just fine, too, so long as it doesn’t engender a desire to run someone off the road. Maybe the themes from “Deliverance” or “Born to Be Wild” wouldn’t be at the top of the relax-while-driving-or-trying-to-relax charts.

Plan to do something nice for someone during your day. Thinking about it (and how wonderful you are for doing it) will usually improve your attitude quite a bit. Don’t get too puffed up about it, though, or the attitude suffers! And make sure you do whatever you’re planning, don’t  just think about it.

Imagine somewhere beautiful you’d like to be.  Get a calendar with great pictures on it and make a point of looking at the picture every day. (But don’t get depressed because you aren’t there or that defeats the whole purpose!! You could start saving for the trip, though.) Get a digital picture frame and enjoy some of your happiest pictures daily. Subscribe to a blog that features beautiful pictures and you’ll start each day out with a smile on your face.

Read or watch something humorous. I love Richard Lederer’s Anguished English books but you might like Monty Python, Jeeves and Wooster, The Pink Panther, or something completely different. Some people like inspirational sayings or great quotes, both easily found on the internet or in books. Take a break from too much news. There isn’t much good news reported because the powers that be think sensational or bad news is the only kind people want to hear or see. Don’t ready too many depressing books. I love mysteries and thrillers but sometimes I have to take a break and go back to some old favorites—Georgette Heyer, Helen MacInnes, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Goudge—books with more-or-less real people and situations, where there aren’t people being murdered at one per every couple of chapters or serial killers running rampant with their exploits described in gruesome detail.

Take time for friends, whether in person or by email, Skype or “real” (“snail mail” these days) mail. Focus on someone else. Carve five minutes out of your busy day to sit with coffee, tea or nothing and relax, looking around you for something beautiful or interesting. (You may find a blog post there as well, so have your camera and notebook nearby.)

As Philippians 4:8 says: “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Try it. You’ll like it. And so will those around you!

  1. Well said, Janet! I love Philippians 4: 8 and don’t forget verse 9 says id you do those things, the God of peace shall be with you.

    have a good day!