On my way home from work I called my wife.
“Hello,” she said, and she sounded like she meant it.
I said, “My bad attitude and I are on our way home. We’ll be there in 20 minutes.”
Without missing a beat she said, “You’d better get rid of it before you get here.”
So I called a friend and asked him, “How do I get rid of a bad attitude?”
“Do you have a bad attitude?”
“Duh,” I thought, confirming to me that I really did have a bad attitude. “Yes, I do.”
How do you know?
My friend and I both had the same thought: first you have to acknowledge that you have a bad attitude.
But maybe you don’t. Maybe the world is completely wrong and you are right. Maybe you’re simply responding to life, circumstances, and everything just as you should. Maybe your attitude is good.
But if you are thinking that way, it probably isn’t. Here are some things to check:
- Is everyone else on the road (or in your office, or on the golf course, etc.) an idiot?
- When How Do You Like Me Now?! (or any other revenge song) plays in your music stream, do you hit repeat multiple times?
- Are you the injured party?
- Is God totally on vacation while your world is falling apart?
If you said yes to any of those the answer is Yeah, you have a bad attitude.
I almost always know I have a bad attitude after I’ve demonstrated it to the world. Or when I’ve heard myself berating another driver who I know can’t hear me.
Ultimately it boils down to this: It’s all about me.
When my friend said, “The first step, I suppose, is admitting that you have a bad attitude,” I agreed. I was already there.
Someone who is with you might tell you, you might see it, or you might feel it, but the first step truly is to recognize that your mindset is temporarily broken.
I say “temporarily” believing that most bad attitudes are not the normal state of mind. And I use the word “broken” because a bad attitude needs to be fixed.
You may want to wallow in it for a bit — I get that. While you’re wallowing you can feel a little sorry for yourself, and maybe someone else will show you some sympathy as well. We like that because most bad attitudes include at least a hint of victim mentality.
After all (see above) we are the injured party. Just ask us.
In reality sometimes we are and sometimes we aren’t, but we usually assume we are. And the more we think that and think about the injury, the worse our attitude gets.
See how quickly this can go in the wrong direction? Let’s bring it to a screeching halt. Or at least let’s halt the screeching.
Steps to the light
Is there a trigger to a bad attitude? Yes in a way, but no.
But don’t blame your attitude on that straw, because it would be light if you were a little stronger.
The question really shouldn’t be about what got you, the question should be about what made you vulnerable.
Satan can find your weakest point, if you want to think of this as a spiritual battle. If you want to think of it in purely human terms, your earthly enemies know how to get you, too.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, failing to prepare for the vagaries of the world on a daily basis.
Being a golfer, I know better than to head out on the course looking for a good round without warming up. That doesn’t mean I don’t do exactly that, but I know better.
I also know better than to go out into the world looking for a good day without some preparation time. Once again, I know better. So do you, and I’m guessing that once in a while you go out to meet the world without getting ready.
Preparation for the day begins before you rise: get some sleep.
Everyone I talked to about this agreed that a lack of sleep is one of the primary culprits contributing to a bad attitude.
One friend said, “It sneaks up on you. You don’t even know it, then suddenly you’re angry!”
Where did it come from? Often it came from a lack of sleep.
Assuming you are rested, the next step in preparing for your day is to think about it before it happens. Using the golf analogy, no professional stands up to a ball to hit it without thinking about the target. What’s your target for the day?
As you think about it you’ll see possible problems, and you’ll think about those. This is all excellent preventive medicine. Weak spots are anticipated and calculated for.
Next is a little prayer time, because you don’t really want to go through the day without help.
Finally you assume confidence and the belief that the day will go well. Nits will not bother you. Even big things will be manageable because you are rested, mentally prepared, and you are not alone.
I talked to that same friend today that I called a few days ago, and he asked how my attitude was doing. I told him it was great, and he asked me what I did.
“Simple,” I said. “I decided to have a good attitude.”
In fact the best way to fix a bad attitude is to let it go and replace it with a good one.
Like much of life, it’s your choice.
Choose to do good.