Chapter 9: Choosing One’s Attitude
An excerpt from You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
Attitude is a choice. The external environment in and of itself is neutral. The external environment’s neutrality is broken by our perception and reaction to it. Our perceptions and reactions are colored by our past beliefs and interpretations. Past beliefs and interpretations are adopted from what we were taught, and have subsequently taught ourselves is the proper, normal, acceptable, agreeable, productive or comfortable way of reacting or being.
Some people believe that they have little or no control over how they react to their environment. These people do not understand that they have already established all of the parameters they will use to react to their environment. Thus, if in any situation we react in a negative, stressful or unproductive manner, we have already set up parameters that have made us react in this manner. We have control over the parameters we set; therefore, we have control over our final reactions or the attitude we decide to take in relating to our environment. If we currently react in a negative, stressful or unproductive manner to certain situations and we truly want to react in a positive, peaceful and productive manner, all we need to do is change our parameters, the beliefs that generate our reactions. You might not yet believe this, but you can react peacefully to every situation.
You give your external environment all the meaning that it has for you. The assessment you place on the external environment is totally up to you. If you give it a positive definition, it is because you believe it is positive. If you give it a negative definition, it is because you believe it is negative. If you give it a stressful definition, it is because you believe it is stressful. If you react angrily, it is because you believe that the external environment deserves an angry response. Your reaction to the external environment is a reflection of the parameters you have consciously or unconsciously set up within your mind. The attitude you display toward your external environment is a verbal and mental manifestation of these parameters. Since you can consciously shift these parameters within your mind, you therefore have the final say as to what attitude you will use in any and every situation.
In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Victor E. Frankl illustrates that you can shift your perceptions, and thus choose your attitude even during the most horrific of circumstances. He writes:
28 “We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
28. Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, Copyright 1997 (Beacon Press).
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