© Gary Inglese

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“Eighty percent of life is just showing up.”                                                                                                                                                 

-Woody Allen (1935-)

As Charles Dickens noted, “There are the best of times.  These are the worst of times.”  Technology gives us a front row seat to war, natural disasters, governmental ineptness and political and corporate corruption.  Is it any wonder we arrive at our work finding it difficult to maintain a positive attitude and focus on our tasks?

Attitude is a matter of choice.  We choose to remain optimistic and take risks, or to be a pessimistic and avoid risks.  Our choices make us who we are and determine whether we live our lives or simply exist.  If your life leaves something to be desired, what will you do to change it?

Optimistic people are comfortable taking risks.  Those who are pessimistic sleepwalk through life.  Optimists strive to be the best at whatever they do and to do more.  They want to make impact and achieve something important- even when they are bruised and battered in the journey through life.  Sleepwalkers stumble through their routines, never seeing the possibilities and never awake enough to make any difference or to change.

You cannot change your past, but you can choose to cultivate a positive attitude and control your present.  Management consultants offer some good advice in this area.

Smiling improves your mood.  Fake it when you don’t feel positive because acting happy- even when you are not- makes you feel better.

Avoid negative influences.  Dodge pessimists.  Be selective about the articles you read in the newspaper, the programs you watch on television, the music you listen to and the people with whom you interact.  We have all had the experience of treating a pessimistic patient and we know how we feel afterward.

Keep a mental inventory of past successes.  These experiences can be touchstones to accessing a more positive attitude.  Having a positive attitude is having self-confidence.

Block negative thoughts.  Encourage positive thoughts.  John Heywood (1497-1580) said, “Better to be happy than wise.”

Choose to be an optimist.  If you choose to focus on the positive, you will soon develop an optimistic outlook.

We have little control over what happens to us each day.  However, we can control our attitudes.  We cannot change the past, other people’s behavior or the inevitable.  As Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz observed, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it.”  Deal with it.

Vold D.D.S., J.D., Michael. (2005, December). Playing the percentages of life.  CDS Review, 23. 

Playing the percentages of life