Monday, November 21, 2005

Attitude Choices

So I was discussing Happiness recently with a friend and the discussion led to thoughts about a person's ability to make certain attitude choices. You know, whether or not a person can choose to be happy ... no matter what life hands you.

It reminded me of a little Tony Robbins tidbit I remember from way back when ("way back when" being when I actually listened to tapes or read books in an effort to better myself. Ya know, before I gave in to The Lazy :)) which I thought I'd try to share with you. I'm not quite sure how powerful this little exercise will be by reading it (it involves closing your eyes) but hopefully it will be effective enough for you to get the gist.

[I know this post is a little off the beaten track for me. But had I found anything, anything at all, even remotely amusing in the news today, I'da gone with that. So blame the media, k?? :)]


And this entire exercise is like a whopping 10 seconds so I'm not asking a lot from you. Really :).

First, I need you to look around your environment real quick (I'm talking no more than 5 seconds) and notice everything that is the color brown. Try to remember as much as you can, you'll be tested. Then come right back to reading this. Go.


Did you do it? Did you do it? If you didn't, do it now or this exercise will be completely ineffectual.

Got the list in your head? Okay, now close your eyes and try to tell me everything that you saw that was the color green.

Ah ha ... tricked ya, didn't I?! Kinda hard, huh?

Now close your eyes and tell me everything that you saw that was the color brown.

A lot bigger list of the brown, right? Right.

And Tony said something like the brown represents the crappy things in the world and in your life whereas the green represents the good. And though everyone has both good (green) and bad (brown) in their lives, choosing to focus on the good can be an effective tool for achieving a higher degree of happiness. Because surely only focusing on the brown would make for a crappy existence, don't you think? I do.

Which isn't to say that I'm always able to react positively to life's ups and down. Because Lord knows I've thrown myself some whopping Pity Parties every now and again. (can you say, all-day "pajamas, People magazine, and my three favorite men: Ben, Jerry, and Mr TeeVee" fest?!) But I think I've been pretty lucky in life in that I do tend to have a relatively happy disposition. But is that entirely based on my attitude choices ... or are there some genetics involved? I do believe that choosing your attitude can be an effective happiness tool, but I know people that deal with hard-core depression that can't seem to make the same choices.

So I leave you with this question because I'd love to hear your thoughts: are the folks who are able to make the positive attitude choices the ones who are happy to begin with? Is this one of those "which came first.. the chicken or the egg" situations? Is happiness strictly attitude based or does genetics play a large role?


T1 said...

I have to say that I think a lot of it is attitude based. I know some people who've had some pretty crappy things happen to them and they are some of the happiest people I know. Then again I know people who've had a pretty nice life who are not so happy.

I think it was a junior high teacher who told me once that you shouldn't waste your energy on anger, bitterness and pity, when it can be used for much better things.

I think you can choose to enjoy your life. No matter what.

PS. There's not a lot of brown in my office...but there are tons of pics of friends, cartoons and thank you cards.

freemarcon said...

Kewl post. I have an idea that positive thinking is not only in our possession but how we were brought up. It is a choice. It is who we surround ourselves with, the environment we surround ourselves with and the thoughts we fill our heads with. I know a person who is extremely non-positive. No matter what happens to them, they see only the bad. This is somebody with whom I have an intimate relationship with. It is very difficult for me to try not to let their bad outlook rub off on me. I have been a student of motivational and inspirational literature and recordings for about 10 years. It has definitely had and impact on my life. This person thinks that it is all hype. My mother was extremely positive and strong willed. She could be having the worst day of her life and you would not have a clue. She always told me that we are going to have good days and bad days but we should enjoy each moment not a series of them. She taught me to be thankful and grateful for the things we are blessed with. I like your little exercise. I have heard many ways to boost the old spirit over the years. That one I had never heard before.

Nice blog. . . check out mine if you like

Kat said...

So if it is just a choice, why then can drugs affect one's degree of happiness for some people (for instance, anti-depressants)?

Peggy said...

Well if you're born rich you usually aren't as happy than if you get rich on your own. Can the same be said for a positive attitude? Could be. I'm big into believing you make your own happiness, but life does have a way of throwing in a monkey wrench now and then. It's also OK to be sad now and then; really makes the good times that much more special. My "ah ha" recently was that guilt is a totally wasted emotion. If you did something wrong; admit it, say you're sorry and move on. Don't use the excuse
"he/she made me do it because they made me feel guilty" WRONG. Only you can make yourself feel guilty. But I digress...

ms c said...

aah, dear kat, if only life were so simple as yes/no this/that black/white. i believe it's a combination of nature vs nurture. actually, there's no "versus" involved because I think both play an equal role. depression can be a clinical state, therefore it's most likely hard-wired but can be treated with a pill. on there other hand there are learned behaviors - did whining as a child get you what you wanted? if so, you'll probably use that as a grown-up....then you'll be a PILL!

frankly, IMHO it all comes down to sunshine!!!!!!! and hummingbirds who will land on your finger. and a fire pit. and almond-flavored tequila. and SUNSHINE!!!!

T1 said...

To answer your question...

Not all depression is attitude. Some depression is chemical based. In those cases people need medication. And sometimes people need medication until they have the tools to help them deal with their depression.

Miss C is right. It's not all black and white. I think happiness is different from being "not depressed" or rather being unhappy is different from being depressed.

Confused yet?

Maybe a talk with the peeps in the know...such as Miss K.

goodgirl036 said...

Okay, sis2 here. Happiness is definitely a choice. The trick is how you perceive any given situation or act. You can choose to see good in any situation or choose to see bad in any situation. For instance, my job may go away at any given time. Some people may choose to say "woe is me". On the other hand (and this is my philosophy), I view it as an opportunity (and a great one) to choose to do something different, i.e. go back to school, travel, or whatever else I may desire to do. It's the half empty or half full argument. Also, my church say to act as if you are happy(or any other emotion) and you will actually be happy. Or act as if you already have something love, etc. and you will attract this into your life. Just a thought. You asked.