All About Attitude

Have you ever thought about the importance of attitude in life? In Buddhism, attitude is very important. When I read the book Something You Forgot… Along the Way, I am made to realize that a common link of these stories is attitude. And not just any kind of attitude, but a good attitude. These stories encourage us to have a good attitude because a good attitude will bring good to one’s life.

It is our attitude towards life that will determine life’s attitude toward us, it is said. We shape our own lives, and the shape of our life is determined by our attitude. Is our attitude good, or something else? A person with a poor attitude towards studying, for example, won’t learn much until they change their attitude towards studying. If we take the attitude that we cannot do something, we generally will not do it. It’s often said that with an attitude of failure we are beaten before we start.

We can alter our lives by altering the attitudes in our minds. Our attitude is our way of thinking; and our belief, and our attitude towards the world is a reflection of our attitude towards ourselves. How we feel about ourselves is reflected in the way we see the world. If someone feels worthless about themselves, then they will see life as worthless too. But someone who feels that their life has great value, then they will see life in general, and the lives of other’s too as being of great value.

You can see it with celebrities. Some celebrities have a long career, while others, even though just as talented, disappear quickly. There are often stories in the newspaper about how a celebrity is difficult on the movies set, or causes trouble with the studio bosses, and as a result they find their roles get fewer and fewer. The ones who have long careers are those who seem the most “normal.” They don’t act like celebrities. They don’t rock the boat, they are rarely if ever in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. They keep a low profile, and get on with their work. Maybe it’s because they are grateful for the job they have and the benefits it brings. Such people who are grateful for what they have, have an “attitude of gratitude,” so to speak. Such people appear likeable, and people like working with them.

Going back to the book Something You Forgot…Along the Way. I would say that almost every story is about attitude. For example, story #1 is about having an attitude of politeness and friendliness. Story #5 is about the attitude of thoughtfulness towards our parents. Story #37 is about the attitude of having a determination of steel. Story #63 is about the attitude of self-reflection. One could go through each of the 65 stories and find some aspect of attitude in them.

Having the right attitude is important because for one reason our attitudes are hard to hide. They show up in our beings: in our facial expression, and our words. It’s not difficult to see it in someone, whether it is happiness, friendliness, carefree, angry, suspicious, lazy. We can become known by our attitude. You might say so and so is a hard worker. It means he or she has a great attitude towards their work.

Like the farmer who plants the seeds, if we want to be respected and be loved by those around, we must cultivate an attitude of respect and love within ourselves. It must come from us first, then others will respond. If we are not respectful and loving towards others, it is unlikely that others will be respectful and loving towards us. There is the story of the man who is standing in front of a stove and says, “stove, give me heat first and then I will give you the wood!” It sounds ridiculous, but don’t we sometimes expect to get without giving?

An uneducated can rise to a prominent position with the right attitude. Such a person will stand out by their behavior and be liked by those around. The poorest person with little education but a right attitude would be a better person to associate with than someone with many degrees and a bad attitude. Attitudes are infectious, so they say, and therefore it’s better to stay away from someone with a bad attitude. Whatever you are seeking, find the people who have the same goal, and be with them. You will inspire one another.

However, even if we ourselves have had a poor attitude in some aspects of our personality up to now, it’s never too late to change. Attitudes are born in the mind, and therefore have to be changed in the mind. We are not born with a bad or poor attitude. It’s something we have learned. Little by little, day by day, by being conscious of our weak attitudes in our mind, we can improve them, and replace them with a better one.

Someone with a good attitude expects more good out of life than bad. A famous self-help person said to have the attitude that there are more reasons you can have something than you cannot, and go after it, work for it, ask for it, and 9 times out of 10 you will get it.

Our environment is a mirror of our attitude. If we don’t like our environment, we have to change our attitude first. The world is impersonal, and it doesn’t care if we change or not. The law of cause and effect will give back exactly what we give it. The soil that the farmer plants his seeds in does not care about what seeds are planted. If corn is planted, corn will be returned. If poison ivy is planted, that is what will be returned. We could say that our minds are like fertile soil, that gives back just what we have planted through our thoughts and beliefs. It therefore makes more sense to plants sees of hope and goodwill than anything else.

Frank Costelloe, Los Angeles

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #51 | 2015, All About Attitude

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