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one thing you can change to be a better person

No matter what you do in life, there are always strings attached. In effect, nothing is for nothing. I'm not just talking money here - this is about consideration, responsibility and, in particular, effort. For most of us, it doesn't come naturally. We have to think, usually before we make a move, or say a word. If we don't, there will be consequences we'd have preferred to avoid. Sound familiar? Trouble is, quite often we don't take time to assess a situation before responding to it. We don't need to because we have been endowed with a pre-programmed adviser. It has been with us since we were first conceived and will continue to guide our responses to every situation until our dying day. It's called attitude. It is the ball we carry with us, the one we toss instinctively at everything we encounter; and, believe you me, the string that attaches it to us is not only unbreakable - it is also elastic. The harder we throw it, the faster it comes back; and the more it hurts when it hits.

There seems, however, little point in writing an article that people won't read because it annoys or offends them; and attitude, by its presence alone, stimulates this kind of response. No matter that the words are helpful or encouraging, someone who is growing tired of being told that they are doing everything wrong will see just another lecture coming and they've simply had enough. In effect, past experience is shaping their mood, and this governs their response to every new eventuality. So, how do you help someone improve their general attitude to life when they are going to think and say: "For pity's sake, leave me alone. Haven’t I got enough on my plate already?" Should you even try? After all, everyone has a life and they should be allowed to lead it the way they want. Unfortunately, the attitude of individuals affects everyone they come in contact with. It would have to be the prime motivator of conflict and misunderstandings and the cause of stress and strife the world over. Learning how to control and perhaps change it must surely be a good thing. That being the case, maybe I'd be better looking at it from a practical viewpoint.

It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining and birds are singing. The roof didn't blow off in the night and the coming day promises to be no more daunting than any other. There's no apparent reason to be in a bad mood, yet that's just the way we feel, and woe betide anyone who upsets us. We are very aware of this negative approach. It has been around for a while and seems to be worsening. Whatever sparked it in the first place has probably been forgotten, but it is very difficult to shake an attitude which is fast becoming a habit. Left to its own devices it will cement itself as a dominant feature of our personality which others come to expect and respond to in kind. When negativity starts turning into a way of life, it takes control to the point where we change into a person nobody likes, including ourselves.

Of course, the opposite can also be true. There are those who breeze through life with a permanent smile and never seem to be dismayed or disadvantaged by whatever crops up. For these people, each new event that presents itself has a better-than-even chance of being resolved amicably. It would be nice to be like this, but it isn't easy, not when the current mood is so negative. That's attitude for you - even wanting to be happy can be soured when you simply don't feel like it. Imagine having a bad day and sitting down in front of the TV to watch a comedy. It's hard to raise a smile, and even if there's a laugh track it can make matters worse. More irritation, more negativity. To get on top of this issue, we have to start thinking positively. We have to return to basics and figure out where our bad attitude comes from and how to change it.

A few simple home-truths have to be accepted first. Number one is admitting the presence of attitude and that it is affecting our lives. "I don't have an attitude!" you might say. Actually, everyone does, especially that someone who argues vehemently that they don't. If you aren't sure what kind you have, watch the six o'clock news, or pick up a newspaper and read some of the headlines. There is bound to be a reaction as opinions are formed on the different stories. It is unlikely that any are about you personally, yet your response to each will be affected by your current attitude. So, you may feel sympathetic to one, while being aggravated by another. The tell-tale reports are those that stimulate a strong reaction, or solicit a response inappropriate to the tone of the piece. A story about a happy event shouldn't make you sad or miserable. If it does, your attitude is at odds with the flavour. You could be recalling a past association which was similar but didn't turn out as well for you; or your present mood simply isn't compatible with anything remotely pleasing. Maybe you just don't feel like smiling. But why?

Frame of mind is set by the past, those experiences that have already left their mark. Saying that a person has got out of bed the wrong side isn't as ludicrous as it sounds, not when you consider that here is when the day starts. The night's sleep ought to have been a period of relaxation and refreshment; but someone who spent it tossing and turning as they mulled over problems isn't going to be the happiest of campers when they wake up. As for which side of bed they get out, there are two choices - collect up all the bad vibes from that night and drag them along, or leave them there and begin the new day with a positive attitude. In other words, be prepared to take each new event on its merits, and don't go looking for trouble.

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