–by Daniel O’shea
PUBLICATION DATE: June 16, 2020
Upgrade Your Attitude
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
—Viktor E. Frankl
Many great minds have spoken about how forging meaning and purpose shape your own perception of existence. Resilience is an internal measure and much of it comes from our self-assigned “raison d’etre”. You create your own “meaning of life” by choosing what has meaning to you; these personal choices forge your internal compass. Your north can be anything; religion, philosophy, family, service, professional success – the important thing is to be able to clarify it meaningfully to yourself. For example, I was able to endure notably arduous times during parts of my military service because I believed I was fighting for a greater cause – to protect people. It gave my suffering meaning.
What is your purpose? What do you stand for?
What are your personal values?
Make your purpose personal to you, greater than you and something that you can strive for. For example, my own personal purpose is to “courageously support, inspire and bring joy to those around me.” Having a purpose allows me to tie meaning into everything I do. Frankl would have testified that giving his life meaning saved it and if I could recommend reading only one book, it would be Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.
If purpose is at the strategic level of attitude, priming your mood is at the tactical level. Author Shawn Achor taught us that our brains are hardwired to perform at their best when they are positive. Prime yourself to perform better at your next engagement by being in a good mood first.
There are many ways to go about improving your mood. For example, focus on what you are grateful for. Be satisfied with what you have or what you are experiencing now, not what you would rather have or prefer to be experiencing. Listen to music, enjoy a tea or coffee, hug someone you are currently allowed to hug. Nick Offerman advises us to “spend time in the healing powers of mother nature. It replenishes the ozone layer in your brain caused by too many emails.”
Conversely, do not expect yourself to always be happy. Accepting unwanted feelings may sound paradoxical to being happy, but it isn’t. The alternative is becoming unhappy about being unhappy. Mindfully accept and explore any emotions as they come.
Distractions have the potential for both good and bad. During your next video conference consider that submitting to distractions from the present increases unhappiness. However, distractions, if partaken attentively, can help make you feel good by interrupting the power of a negative mood spiral. I’ll reiterate the word attentively – an idle mind or a mind at the mercy of every fleeting thought is often dissatisfied. Pay attention to what you are doing in the here and now and question your own wayward thoughts – ask yourself: is this useful? Am I fully engaged in this moment?
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
—Viktor E. Frankl
Upgrade your attitude. You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. Find satisfaction in dissatisfaction, certainty in uncertainty, stability in flux.
Create purpose and practice gratitude.