Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One

How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One

These days, the phrase “bad attitude” gets thrown around quite often. You use it regularly and barely stop to think what it actually means. It’s just the nail technician has some bad attitude when you asked her to redo your toes. Your younger sister has a bad attitude when you offered her to put her phone down while you are having a conversation. Your boss has a bad attitude because the deal did not go through.

With the ease that the label “bad attitude” gets applied these days, it is unlikely that you catch yourself saying “I have a bad attitude today.” Though having it is something that you rarely consciously admit to yourself, your own bad attitude is more impactful on you than the attitude of anybody else around.

Staying in a company of people with a bad attitude is something you can choose. It’s similar to an elevator that stinks when you walk in. You suffer for a couple of floors but then you walk out. And soon enough, you manage to erase the unpleasant encounter out of your mind.

Having a bad attitude is different. You don’t notice or pay much attention to a stink, because it’s yours. And, until you are able to identify and manage your bad attitude, you are a prisoner of it, unknowingly to yourself.

So it is not a semantics exercise when you try to put a finger on what exactly you call a bad attitude. It is, rather, the training of your mindfulness to notice when you are in your own stinking cloud and not letting it become your permanent company.

1. What If You Think You Know More Than Anybody Else?

Coming to a project, a team, a conversation with a sense that you are always right and that you know everything is a sign of a bad attitude. You can be indeed the most prepared and have the deepest expertise – that is not the point. In fact, being the smartest person in the room is often one of the coping mechanisms we often resort to.[1]

Advertising

The problem with thinking that you know more than everybody else is that, in this mindset, you are not open to feedback or any new information that can be constructive to what you are trying to achieve. Your focus is on proving others wrong, without giving a chance to a possibility that others may actually have a point.

Come back to that nail technician who messed up your toes. She will be adamant pointing that your feet are crooked rather than admitting that she, a professional in this setting, did something wrong. With the huffing and puffing, she will redo your nails. But she may never see where exactly she made a mistake. You can be the same when you think you know more than anybody else.

Catch your bad attitude when you dismiss a piece of feedback, when you defend familiar ways, and when you discredit (even only to yourself) others’ experiences as invalid. At that moment, not only you are impossible to cooperate with. In this mindset, you block any opportunities for your own growth. With the need to maintain your status of know-it-all, you become stiff and blinded to things that can oftentimes benefit you.

From Know-It-All to Knowing Nothing

Once you’ve diagnosed that you are in your usual “know more than anybody else” mode, coming out of the stinky attitude starts with recognizing that sometimes, you might be actually wrong. And it may have nothing to do with the facts, figures, and dates. If anything, you are always spot on with your prep. It is about admitting that others may experience the same situations differently than you and therefore have their own truth, also different from yours.

Preparing to be wrong means understanding that all you know is actually a reflection of your experiences only, and not anybody else’s. Whether it is about personal relationships or business, you can be both right about your own vision of things and wrong about others’ at the same time. Realizing it makes you so much more open-minded, cooperative, and tolerant. And that’s quite a bit of an attitude change!

2. What If You Think It Will Fail Before It Begins?

Imagine that you perform your best version of an eye-roll and frustratingly ask yourself, “Why do I even have to go through it?” You are about to start something that, in your book, has already failed. Placing a verdict of failure on things, people, or events before they even had a chance is bad attitude!

Advertising

Here are some examples. You think a meeting with your colleagues will be a waste of time before heading to it. So you mentally write it off and deliberate a way you can pretend participating while going through your own plans. You suspect that your partner will forget your birthday, and you decide to spare yourself from a potential disappointment. You book a restaurant in advance so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Anticipating a failure is a natural defense. Something uncertain is about to happen, and preparing for the worst is a way to control it. However, having a backup plan for the worst-case scenario is different than filing something as a failure in your mind before it starts. The former gives some room for things to turn out fine, with a plan B in the back burner. The latter already has placed the whole enterprise in a grave. No matter what destiny it could have had, you’ve already decided that it’s going to be grim.

When you decide to book a restaurant to prevent your partner from forgetting your birthday, you rip him of the agency he has in this situation. More so, you literally incentivize him to disappoint you next time. You do not believe in him from the start – so why convince you otherwise? And, as your know-it-all mode might kick in here too (see point above), you will inadvertently lead a situation into failure just to prove you are right. Double strike for bad attitude!

From Expecting Failure to Giving the Agency

Bad attitude coming from not believing in people is rooted in past disappointing experiences. Yet writing things off because others have let you down before is just bitter. You literally allow your past to dictate your future. You condition others that there is no way for them to please you, because you’ve already decided it’s going to be a failure. You also condition yourself to only notice disappointments, because that’s all you remember.

Turning this around requires letting others own their mistakes when they make them instead of trying to preempt them. Giving the agency to people you deal with and taking them in good faith means believing that they are doing their best. With that belief, you will be present to see that, instead of tending to the graveyard of failures that never happened.

3. What If You Criticize to Invalidate?

Let’s say, your team sends a presentation, and you see every bullet point that is not aligned well. Or maybe your friend tells you about her mysterious new boyfriend, and you find every inconsistency in his behavior. Attentive to details and analytical, one thing you do extremely well is finding holes in anything. Nothing that does not sit well skips your eye.

Advertising

While your forensics skills came handy on more than one occasion, they’ve probably brought you into one particular trap: you can criticize something to completely destroy it. At first, it may seem like fun. Because look at you not letting any imperfection pass through! But then you just cannot stop. The more you discover, the more your inner detective gets both enraged but also aroused by an idea of finding more. It goes on until you stand in the middle of ruins, aggravated. “Couldn’t others see what I had to deal with just now?”

Bad attitude! You’ve just destroyed something into pieces without building anything in return.

How come is it a bad attitude when you just pointed at everything that is wrong with an idea? Well, your role in the whole undertaking is destructive, not constructive.

For someone you’ve provided feedback to – all you’ve done is invalidated that person’s vision (even for a good reason), which, without an alternative vision, leaves that person directionless.

For yourself, you have just spent time finding negative. Without rebalancing it with positive and offering ways how it might work, the net result of your effort is another confirmation that people do sloppy work, do not pay attention, let alone care.

From Destructive to Constructive

The only way to remedy this bad attitude caused by a detective syndrome is to take it for a rule that whenever you criticize – you offer an alternative. Literally! Do not like a sentence in a presentation – offer a rewrite! Do not like a proposed strategy, instead of stopping at finding problems, – find how the problems can be resolved.

Advertising

A good attitude is whenever you are a critic, you are also a creator. This way, instead of being a party pooper to be avoided, you will be someone to come to for solutions.

You being constructive is not only important for people around. It is most important for you. So, between things that you’ve criticized to death and things that you helped to progress forward, the balance would always remain on the latter. Even after all the sadist pleasure you’ve derived marking up your teammate’s draft into a bloodbath, at the end of the day, you are the one who moves this draft to a next level, not throws it in the garbage.

4. What If Everybody Around You is a Problem?

There is a saying that:

“If everybody around you is a problem, you are a problem.”

Finding the culprits is a common strategy for masking a bad attitude. Yet this is the exact time you should turn to yourself.

If others have no clue what they are doing, perhaps it’s a good moment for you to examine your conviction that you know more than anybody else. If you feel like things are bound to fail before they even commence, probably it’s your desire to control everything taking the best of you. And, if you encounter more issues than solutions, it can be the case that the real issue begins with you.

Identify your bad attitude before pointing at anybody else’s, and you are halfway turning it around. Then, prepare to be wrong, give people ownership of their mistakes, and offer alternatives when you criticize, and that’s a much better attitude!

More Tips for Building the Right Attitude

Featured photo credit: Allie Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Oxana Kunets

Explorer of all things meaningful living, confidence, and courage

14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?” 7 Reminders on Building Strong Family Relationships

Trending in Positive Thinking

1 How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough) 2 Surviving and Thriving Amid the Pandemic: Personal Responsibility 3 Surviving and Thriving Amid the Pandemic: Cultivating a Positive Mindset 4 How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind 5 Surviving and Thriving Amid the Pandemic: Death to Doom Scrolling

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on February 22, 2021

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

Scott Peck’s first sentence in his book, The Road Less Traveled, is, “Life is difficult.” He then goes on to say that if you accept this, you are going to be okay. There is a lot of adversity in life, and none of us are exempt. That’s why we need to focus on the good things in life for us to move forward.

Here are 4 ways you can focus on the good things in life, especially during tough times.

1. “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do”

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

The above quote is the title of Dr. Robert Schuller’s outstanding book. The title tells you all you need to know about the book.

We have been through a tough 2020, and 2021 could very well be just as tough. The hope is that vaccines and proper protocols will get us through these difficult times. Americans in the 20th century suffered through two World Wars and the devastating Great Depression. To get through these times, they had to be tough—and they were. Now, it is our turn to show our toughness.

I can think of three examples where people showed their toughness in recent years.

The first has to do with the Catholic Church and the awful pedophilia scandal. I believe it was one of the worst times in the history of the Church. What happened to the children was unconscionable. Another side of the issue was the clergy who were falsely accused. Two of them in the Chicago area knew they were innocent and showed their toughness in different ways.

The first got through it with prayer—praying especially for his accuser. Prayer can be a great way to get through tough times. The second was able to retain his optimism. He said he kept repeating a sentence from John and Bobby Kennedy’s mother, Rose: “After the storm, the birds always sing.”

Both men were exonerated after a most difficult and humiliating time. Their accusers ultimately admitted they had lied.

Another way of getting through times is by calling on the best of people. Winston Churchill, during the worst bombing of London in World War II, told the British people, “Never, never give in!” The British people did just that.

Advertising

Another way of getting through times is through determination and work. We were looking to build a gymnasium at Providence High School when I worked there. We drafted a paper giving the rationale as to why we needed the gym and presented it to people of means in our community.

The vote was 16-0 that we should not try to build during such tough economic times. Providence has a gym today because of the work ethic and the determination of one man—Father (then Bishop) Roger Kaffer.

Finally, teams go through tough times in athletics. We started one season 3-6. We decided to go back to the fundamentals. We finished 9-2 and played for the conference championship because we returned to the fundamentals. All organizations can return to their core values during tough times.

Prayer, optimism, calling on our best selves, determination, work, and our core values can get us through tough times.

2. Keep a Good Thought

“Keep a good thought” is an Irish maxim encouraging people to stay positive. We can find the good through tough times by our thinking.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy. It’s what you think about.”

I enjoyed the basketball coach who had an interesting take on thinking. He asked the referee if he could give him a technical foul for what he was thinking. The ref said of course not; the coach then responded, “I think you stink!”

Willie Nelson, in one of his many songs, stressed to be careful of negative thinking. Paraphrasing, the refrain was, “Think of the good times because the bad times weigh like lead on your mind.”

Our students at the University of St. Francis would annually go to Bolivia to help the people build and repair homes. When I asked them what they learned from the trip, they said two things—they could not believe the poverty the people lived in nor could they believe the positive attitude with which the people lived. Their kindness, humor, and compassion were incredible. Somehow, they consistently kept a good thought, despite their tough circumstances.

Mother Teresa summed up keeping a good thought when she wrote, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

Advertising

You can focus on the good things in life when you are determined to “Keep a Good Thought” through hardships.

3. Be in the Moment

We focus on the good things when we are happy. Roy T. Bennett wrote, “If you want to be happy do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”

Two emotions that can deprive us of our happiness are guilt and worry. Jeffrey Nevid called them the “useless emotions.”

Guilt refers to the past. We can elect to carry guilt for something we did in the past. That is our prerogative, but the bottom line is we cannot change it. It’s over! What we can do, however, is learn from it, then move on. Learning from it is the easy part; moving on, the only realistic thing to do, admittedly is the hard part.

Mark Twain had a great insight into guilt’s partner, worry, when he wrote, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which happened.”

Too often, we worry about things that never materialize. If guilt and worry are tied to our past and future and if they are “useless emotions,” then the only alternative is to live in the present.

In my first 25 years of coaching basketball at the University of St. Francis, we had no bus to take us to road games. We, the coaches, drove the vans. There were 21 NAIA teams in Illinois and only 6 made the playoffs. We finally had the chance to be one of the 6 but we had to win one more game. The team we played was about 5 hours away. We were down 12 with 4 minutes to go in the game. We rallied to make 2 free throws with 2 seconds left to go and we were up by 1 point.

They inbounded the ball to our free-throw line, some 79 feet away from their basket. Their player threw a “Hail Mary” ball toward their basket—it went right in and knocked us out of the playoffs! I had the option of dwelling on that incredulous ending and living in the past or living in the present and driving our players back to campus safely! Fortunately, we made it home.

We can focus on the good by making ourselves happy. Many people have validated that we can make ourselves happy.

Aristotle kept it simple, “Happiness depends on ourselves.”

Advertising

The Dalai Lama wrote, “Happiness is not something that is readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

The actress Aubrey Hepburn had this insight, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”

Mahatma Gandhi saw it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

When we will ourselves into a state of happiness by staying in the present moment, we can focus on the good things in life.

4. Help Others

Mark Twain wrote, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.”

A former high school classmate, Pat Warren, was constantly cheering up our friends when they were experiencing tough times. I would hear about the person suffering and tell myself I must get to see him. Inevitably, by the time I finally got to see him, Pat had already been there. He constantly focused on the good things he could do for others, especially during their difficult times.

Joe Madden, the former Chicago Cubs manager, used to tell his players, “Don’t ever let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” I saw one of his players execute the pleasure.

One of my grandchildren was playing in a Little League game on Chicago’s north side. He was playing on one field and there was another game on an adjacent field. When I looked to the other field, the game had stopped and all the players and fans had surrounded someone.

Ben Zobrist lived near the park where the kids were playing. He had been the Most Valuable Player of the previous year’s World Series. So, there was a lot of pressure on him to perform well this next year, but he did not let the pressure exceed his giving pleasure.

The Cubs had a game that day and he lived close enough to Wrigley Field, their home park, so he would often ride his bike to games in his uniform. However, before riding to his game this day, he rode over to the park where we were.

Advertising

The players and the adults were excited to see and meet the 2016 World Series MVP. He stayed in the park until he signed every autograph for every person on both fields! It was an act of random kindness as he gave the kids great pleasure. He focused on the good despite the pressure he was about to face in his game.

Numerous pundits have great insights into the many facets of helping others.

Catherine Pulsifer said, “People appreciate and never forget that helping hand, especially when times are tough.”

Martin Luther King wrote, ”Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.”

Charles Dickens spoke about the two kinds of people who help. “There were two kinds of charitable people: one, the people who did little and made a great deal of noise; the other the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

Finally, Jim Rohn wrote about the relationship between giving and receiving, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

Helping others, especially during tough times, enables you to focus on the good things in life.

Final Thoughts

We can focus on the good things in life during difficult times in four ways:

  • By being tough and not fearing the tough times
  • By keeping a good thought
  • By staying in the moment
  • By being there for others

Remember that tough times are inevitable, but they will also inevitably end. The key is to focus on the good, and you’ll get there eventually.

More Tips on How to Focus on the Good

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

Read Next