Thursday, August 8, 2013

Attitude is a Choice

People who know me well would not say that I am the most optimistic person on the planet. I've often taken a perverse pride in being a "realist" and avoiding "excessive enthusiasm". As The Who said so well, "If I smile tell me some bad news, before I laugh and act like a fool". A recent experience has prompted me to reconsider my whole attitude about attitude.

I was in Orlando after an exciting Reliv 25th Anniversary International Conference. As I sat in the hotel lobby waiting for my airport shuttle, my phone rang. It was the airline letting me know that my flight was delayed 35 minutes because of a "minor mechanical issue". Uh oh! I've traveled often enough to know that where airlines are concerned there are no "minor" issues, and I had a tight 55 minute connection to make if I was going to get home that day. Noon arrived and no shuttle. A call to the company resulted in an unsympathetic dispatcher telling me that the shuttle had been there, I must have been at the wrong entrance (maybe mention that when I reserved the ride?), and the next one would be by in an hour.

I was now an unhappy person, and spinning all sorts of plausible scenarios in which I didn't make it home till the next day. Then it occurred to me that the 35 minute flight delay just might save the day! Without it the missed shuttle was an automatic loser. 

All along here so far, I was assuming the worst case scenario - several worst case scenarios actually. But why was the best case not possible? On paper, at least, I could still make the flights. So I had a 20 minute argument with myself about it (I must have sounded like Gollum to passers-by) and made a decision that, since these matters were mostly out of my control, I would do the best I could and assume that things would work out for the best.

Suffice it to say that the trip home was much more of an adventure than I'd have preferred. But when I finally walked through my door, I was only 58 minutes later than scheduled. I'd had a chance to meet several people on the way home who were interested to hear more about what Reliv could do for them who I would not have met otherwise. And as I stood in Chicago waiting out weather delays, my new attitude spared me from the stress and anger that was all around me.

But suppose things had not worked out so well? Suppose one of those worst case scenarios had played out? I might well have been presented with new and different opportunities that I would have missed out on had things gone smoothly. Second, the experience could have provided valuable lessons and learning experiences for use next time. And finally, by relaxing, doing what I could and assuming the best, the trip would have been far less stressful and aggravating than it otherwise would have. What was my other choice? Congratulate myself on expecting the worse and being right? Scant comfort that.

The big lesson for me? Attitude is a choice! I can choose to see things from a negative filter or a positive one. I can expect happy outcomes or miserable ones. Being positive and optimistic about things doesn't change the outcome, but it does change the experience. Being a "glass half full" person is just more fun. And I bet it attracts a whole different sort of person to me. Try it yourself.

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