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Attitudes represent a collection of personal beliefs, feelings and values that influence a person's behavior in response to specific ideas, objects, persons or situations.  Attitudes represent habits of thought formed over time through exposure to people, events and ideas during the course of one's life experiences. This storehouse of acquired attitudes acts like a sub-conscious computer master program for controlling behavior. These habits of thought have an impact not only on how we see and react to the world around us, but also on how we see ourselves. 

Attitudes are often based not on reality but rather, simply on how we personally think or feel about something. This then, becomes our reality.  Because our attitudes reflect what we think, feel and believe  about ourselves and the world around us, they effectively shape our expectations of daily life, and these expectations directly influence the nature of our behavior which, in turn determines our results. This is why the nature of our attitudes, especially those that relate to how we see ourselves, is so critically important.  

All attitudes come in two varieties—positive or negative.  There can be no such thing as a neutral or ambivalent attitude towards someone or some thing.  At its core, an attitude represents a leaning or bearing in one direction or another, so a neutral condition would simply reflect a non-attitude.  The fact of the matter, however, is that we generally display an attitude, either positive or negative, about most every situation we encounter during our day to day activities. People's attitudes are illustrated by both their actions and by their reactions. 

Now it isn’t so much that we develop a positive or negative attitude to a specific situation as a response to the details of that particular situation that poses a problem for us generally, but rather the fact that our inherent attitudinal orientation (positive or negative) influences our behavior in a situation often without our awareness. When presented with a challenge, people with a negative attitude will likely focus on problems: what can’t be done, and why things won’t work. Their conversations will usually center on negativity, criticism and blame.

Such people do not respond well to compliments and will even discount them. However, they remember every one of their failures and mistakes, and this memory stifles much of their activity. They are usually part of the problem, not part of the solution. Individuals with basically positive attitudes will focus more on possibilities and optimistic outcomes. This will be evident in the way they treat people. They will be very comfortable giving others credit, and their interactions will concentrate on helping other people feel good about themselves and their circumstances. They accept both constructive criticism and compliments with grace and appreciation.

People with positive attitudes are usually part of the solution and are rarely part of the problem. But where do our attitudes come from?  It is important to understand that attitudes are developed over time. Years and years of early conditioning helped to develop the attitudes that many people carry with them throughout life. They are derived from one’s family, environment, friends and life experiences. Much of early conditioning is often negative, e.g., what you can’t do, where not to go, etc. Unfortunately, negative attitudes are significantly more prevalent than positive attitudes. Too many people think more often of what’s wrong, how they might fail, and why it won’t work rather than what’s good, what’s right, and how it can work. The intentions and influence of family, friends, coworkers and society are intended to be helpful. We can generally benefit from the experiences of others, and wisdom that has withstood the test of time can aid us in decision making and problem solving. However, sometimes even helpful advice can inhibit our ability to imagine, explore and create. In order to grow and achieve, we must each follow our passion, chart our own course, set our own goals and determine our own actions.

Far too often, peoples’ attitudes determine the nature of their lives.  People’s success and happiness are the direct result of the attitudes they bring to personal interactions.  In other words, people’s interactions with others are often determined by their inherent attitudinal predisposition.  Ideally, this situation should be reversed so that we control our attitudes rather than having them control us.  In the words of James Allen from his wonderful inspirational little book entitled As a Man Thinketh:      

“All that a man achieves and that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. His condition is his own, and not another man’s.  His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks,  so is he; as he continues to think, so he remains.”

Successful, personally motivated individuals discard any wrong or counterproductive attitudes that they may have developed through prior negative conditioning and deliberately replace them with “right habits” of thought to empower themselves to demonstrate the “right behaviors” to help them to identify and acquire what they want out of life.  Personally motivated people cast off self-limiting behaviors that stifle achievement and through affirmations and positive conditioning, consciously cultivate success-oriented attitudes regarding family and friends, work and most important, regarding themselves and life in generalHow Attitude Affects Motivation    



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