Attitude is All That Matters
from Smile for No Good Reason
by Dr. Lee Jampolsky
Have you ever noticed that two people can confront the same circumstances with very different reactions? This is a matter of attitude and nothing else. Freedom is being able to say, "Rich or poor, alone or with a mate, physically healthy or not, employed or laid off, I believe that peace of mind is possible."
We have all experienced what it is like to be having a perfectly fine day and have a situation or crisis arise that sends us into a tailspin. It may be something small like a traffic jam making us late, or something more severe like the loss of a job. Our response can seem automatic.
Though at first it may be difficult to accept, freedom depends on recognizing that you're not upset because of what occurred, you are upset because of how you perceive the situation. Key to Attitudinal Healing is recognizing that you are not a victim of the world.
Another way of saying this is: There is absolutely nothing in the world that has the power to ruin your day. If you are upset, it is because you have directed your mind to be so. Initially these truths can be hard to accept because you have become so accustomed to giving your power away. Every time you blame another person for your unhappiness you are giving your power away. Stop blaming and start healing.
How you perceive a situation will determine your experience and your reaction. Let's imagine that you have a favorite coffeehouse that you frequent. The staff knows your name and always has a warm and friendly greeting as you walk through the door. An extremely grumpy woman whom you have never seen before serves you this particular morning. She appears preoccupied rather than caring about you or what she is doing. As she pours your hot coffee a good portion spills in your lap. Despite your jumping in shock, no apology follows. Your experience is anger: both toward the waitress and the owner, Joe, for hiring such an incompetent person. Then, a friend of yours at the next booth says, "Isn't it great that Joe hired her!"
"Great! Are you out of your mind? She just spilled hot coffee in my lap and walked away," you reply with your best indignant voice.
"Oh, you didn't hear the story?" your friend whispers.
"What story?" you angrily reply, still drying off your new slacks, wondering how you will go through the day looking as though you wet your pants.
"Yeah, Joe didn't know her from Adam. He read in the paper that her husband had died last month in a car accident. Apparently her husband's health insurance stopped, and she was looking for another job in order to pay for her sixteen-year-old son's chemotherapy for leukemia," your friend responds.
Now, you still have hot coffee in your crotch, but are you still angry? Unlikely. The only thing that shifted was your perception and attitude. Through discovering a reason to be compassionate, your entire experience changed—and there are always reasons to be compassionate.
An important part of healing (i.e., letting go of fear) is developing compassion. Instead of going out in the world and finding plenty of reasons to be upset, go out and discover reasons to extend love. There are thousands of reasons waiting for you right now. A helpful thought to remember is that a miracle is nothing more than allowing an old grievance to become a current compassion.
If you ever run short on reasons to be compassionate, remember there is always one good reason: It makes you feel better than anything else you could do.