Attitude: A Corollary

I have an addendum to yesterday’s post about attitude that came to me during my walk again today. Since this line of thinking is largely foreign to me, I’ve been trying to let that whole “attitude” thing I wrote about yesterday sink in a bit, and while I was ruminating over it during my exercise walk today, a natural corollary set in that deserves its own mention.

Each and every human being on this planet wishes for positive things in their lives. Be it health, love, success, friends, recognition, appreciation, enlightenment, wealth – whatever – it doesn’t matter. We all want for those things that we perceive will change (or maintain) our lives for what we see as the better.

Positive changes. Positive outcomes.

I want to be a better artist. I want to be a better programmer. I want to lose weight, and be trim, fit and attractive. I want to be loved and I want to be smart and funny, because I have an unhealthy obsession with being respected, recognized and validated because my self-confidence and self-esteem cratered sometime around 1982. Some of these things are healthy desires, while others are not. But it doesn’t matter, because I think that these things will bring about changes that will result in fulfilling my desires.

The point is, is that my perception mandates that each and every one of these outcomes are POSITIVE by their very nature. None of these outcomes are perceived as negative. No one (with a healthy mind at least) sits around and fantasizes about how wonderful it would be to be broke, sick and unloved. These things, in turn, are perceived as NEGATIVE things.

Now ask yourself one, simple thing:

When was the last time in your personal life, that a negative thought, approach, or perception, brought about, or contributed to a positive outcome?

When has a negative approach to anything ever result in a positive outcome? Let that sink in — I mean, spend some time on that…really think about that. Believe me, this line of thinking is as foreign to me as the Klingon language is to my mother-in-law.

But think about, and at the same time, allow me to plug in a few examples from my own life to underscore what I’m babbling on about here.

I want to be a better artist. The “better artist” part of that statement is the positive outcome I desire here. But, I will never be as good an artist as Tom Richmond no matter how hard I try. “Never” is the negative approach here. Do you see it? Do you see what’s happening there?

I want to be trim, healthy and attractive. But it’s too hard, and I will never look like Brad Pitt anyway. Again, do you see it?

Oil and water. Ice cream and Tabasco sauce. Diet cheeseburgers. Things that do not go together.

If all of my desires are positive outcomes, how could they ever be attained with a negative approach? Wouldn’t positive outcomes, I dunno, require, um, perhaps, a POSITIVE approach? Or even worse — a positive attitude? Thinking back on my life, I can’t ever think of an instance where I achieved a desired result with a negative, defeatist attitude. When was the last time you achieved a desired positive result with a negative, defeatist attitude? My guess would be never. Or, at the very least, dumb luck on those few occasions where you did. “I’m so gonna bomb this test.” “My bass playing will never be as good as Cliff Burton’s.” “I’ll never be able to learn this new programming language.” So on and on it goes, and guess what? Well…I don’t think I need to tell you, as I’m pretty sure you can “guess what” already.

In other words, if you desire a positive change in your life, try approaching that change with the appropriate attitude that would be conducive for affecting that positive change. In this instance, perhaps it is like that definitely attracts like.

I may never become as good as Tom Richmond at drawing (which may or may not be true), but I can always try to be a better artist than I was yesterday. I may never look as good as Brad Pitt, but I can always do the positive things that make me healthier and thinner tomorrow than I am today. We must anchor our metrics relative to ourselves, and use only ourselves as our own measuring stick. Since we cannot be other people, the only thing we CAN be is better versions of ourselves than we were yesterday, and a negative approach in reaching for those positive changes only serves to undermine exactly that which we desire.

As Melville so poignantly articulated in Moby Dick, Queequeg was equal only to himself.

So, give it a shot for a little while, and get back to me on how it worked out. I know I’ll be trying my hardest to implement this “paradigm shift” myself. It won’t be easy, but I cannot ignore the logic, so I’m going to put forth a genuine effort to change my perspective, and look at negativity, and all natural hurdles as merely challenges only to my attitude. For once the attitude is in check, and under control, then, perhaps, all else will naturally follow suit.