How to Change a Bad Attitude

Philadelphia 2011-07-20 373

I believe in the power of a positive attitude. I also believe that knowing a positive attitude has the potential to affect change in your life is one thing – and changing a negative attitude is a completely other thing, a thing that is often easier said than done.

A negative attitude, especially when it’s focused inward, can be like a powerful black hole, quickly collapsing in on itself and crushing everything in its proximity. Even once you’ve recognized that your thought process needs a speedy adjustment, it can be difficult to just switch gears. And then, if you’re like me, you start worrying about the potential consequences of having a negative attitude.

Quick, stop thinking about bad things before you make bad things happen. Crap! You’re doing it again! Stop that!

Maybe it’s because I’ve given up so much in order to ensure this year is spectacular, or maybe it’s because I changed the name of this blog, but I’m determined to spend as much of my life with a positive attitude as I can. Sometimes, that means taking specific steps to kick my bad attitude to the curb.

How to Change a Bad Attitude

1. Count your blessings.

My weekly happiness highlights have become a cherished habit. Taking the time to hunt through my life for gems reminds me at least once a week how blessed I am. It seems like we easily give lip service to the notion of being lucky, but we rarely take the time to acknowledge why, specifically, we believe that to be true. That clarity helps me hardwire gratitude deeper into my cells.

2. Focus on someone else.

My grandpa used to say that the best way to get over a bad mood was to think about something else. I think of him often when I get lost in my own belly lint. I’m so damn introspective, and that is almost never good for the attitude. So, I try to do better. I pick my head up and take a look at the people around me. I watch, I listen, I put my mental energy into knowing them better and doing things to help them feel loved. In the end, I almost always end up feeling more loved myself.

3. Slow down.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found that over and over again my life is enriched by slowing down. Traveling more slowly. Working more slowly. Doing less with my time has left me more satisfied at the end of my day. I’ve spent years trying to learn how to be more productive, and now it seems that might have been moving me away from happiness. How can that be? I’m still not sure how that can be or what the future implications of this inverse relationship might be, but I am confident that at least temporarily slowing down can help improve a person’s attitude.

4. Acknowledge the fear.

This actually should have been first, but there isn’t really a set order of steps. We’re all just guessing and going through the motions when we’re trying to rescue ourselves from a bad attitude, aren’t we? And sometimes we’re running, trying to not look too closely at something we fear might be true about ourselves. At least, that’s where my crappy attitudes usually come from – an insecurity I’m working hard to deny. And that, of course, never works. So before we try to spin and dance and jump through hoops to snap ourselves out of our bad moods and negative attitudes, it’s probably wise to take a moment and admit what’s really bothering us in the first place.

But just a moment, I think. And then it’s time to get on with the business of actually living our lives.

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  1. Megan says:

    I love the slowing down part. I think we are one of the few cultures who always feels like we could be doing more with our time (while we’re sitting on the couch watching TV).

    I strive to make my to-do list as short as possible. If that means moving something that’s not pressing to another day, fine. If that means breaking up a relatively simple project into small, bite-sized pieces, I’m all for it. Doing this means I’m not rushed or stressed about things and I very rarely have a day’s tasks spill into another day. And I usually finish projects before the deadline. Which makes me very happy. :)

  2. Wiser words have never been spoken! Its even hard to admit often times that its fear that is causing your dissatisfaction, but if you can admit that, figure out what’s causing the fear then ask “What’s the worst that can happen?” often times you can move the f*** on and actually HAVE that good attitude. At least that’s what *I’m* finding lately. :)

  3. i took a week’s vacation around memorial day. incredible how relaxed and happy i was with no internet, no cell phone, no television…just a trailer, people i love, fishing gear and kayaks. we even went way simple with the food. i wanna do it again. soon!

  4. Jamie says:

    Prov 23:7. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. What we think will come to pass eventually.

  5. Kelly says:

    I laughed out loud when I read this line: “I think of him often when I get lost in my own belly lint.” I tend to do a lot of navel gazing myself.

    And “Slow Down” Sounds good.

    “Acknowledge the fear” This is one that I am working on. In the past, I have tried to ignore it, pretend it isn’t there but this doesn’t work because it always rears its ugly head.

    Great post!

  6. Lindsey says:

    The best thing I can do to improve a bad attitude is change the situation that’s causing the bad attitude. Sometimes that’s hard to do – people seem to get themselves into ruts.

  7. the muskrat says:

    Yeah, I’m no good at the whole “slow down and think of others” thing. I do think about my clients, but that requires me to be in a hurry and in a bad mood most of the time!

  8. [...] these happiness highlights are important to me. They’re a crucial part of maintaining on overall attitude of happiness, and so, here we [...]

  9. Hi Britt
    The timing on reading this post is just perfect. I had a frustrating day today and I can feel my mood taking a nose dive. Good to read something that helps snap me out of my bad mood.

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