When I was younger, I used to use sarcasm so often that people couldn’t tell when I was actually being sincere. While sarcasm can be fun for humor on occasion, allowing it to permeate my entire attitude did a lot of damage in my early twenties.
I knew it was bad when I was giving my mom a compliment and she couldn’t tell whether I was being sincere or not. Yikes!
Your attitude plays a huge role in your relationships, your work, and your future. Even if you have a fairly good attitude about things already, there are always ways you can improve your attitude.
When you change your attitude, you can radically change the prospects for your future.
Change your Attitude
1. Take responsibility for your attitude.
Just like in addiction, admitting that you have a problem is the first step. If you have a bad attitude, you need to own up to it and take responsibility for your attitude.
I went to a small university in the midwest, where most of the other students came from sheltered homes. My closest friends, who were homeschooled, were fairly sensitive about a lot of things.
When one of them confronted me about the way a joke I made was hurtful to her, my first reaction was anger. After all, I was just trying to be funny!
But I learned from that experience that my gut reaction (and the accompanying attitude) isn’t always right. Sometimes my jokes, my attitude, and my behavior need to change. Even in areas where I think I’m doing alright, I need to be aware of the feedback I get from other people.
Part of taking responsibility for your attitude is admitting that there are areas where you need to improve or change. The other part is taking the time to make amends with anyone who has been hurt or offended by your attitude.
This includes people at home, at work, or in your social circles. If your attitude is hurting your relationships, you need to own up to the damage you’ve done.
“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”
– John C. Maxwell
2. Evaluate your attitude.
Take a minute to think about different areas of your life. Reflect on ways your attitude may be getting in the way of relationships, goals, or even your quality of life. Think about what frustrates you, what makes your temper flare, how you feel about other people and the tone of your inner dialogue.
A few years back, I realized that I often get excessively angry while driving. I don’t necessarily act out with road rage by honking or using hand gestures, but I’d often get so worked up that I’d ruin a huge portion of my day with my own frustration.
When others were in the car, I’d be so stressed by driving that I didn’t enjoy the conversations and opportunities for bonding that were in front of me.
Obviously, frustration is still going to happen when I’m driving. Reckless and aggressive drivers still make me mad. But I’ve taken steps to address my own attitude and my own reactions while driving.
I may still get worked up on occasion, but by evaluating my attitude, I’ve been able to be intentional about letting go of my bad attitude. We all have areas of our lives that are like that. Maybe you get frustrated with customers (or even coworkers) at your job.
Maybe certain groups of people trigger bad attitudes within you. Everyone needs to work to change harmful attitudes and thought patterns. Taking time to evaluate your attitude will help you create your own plan of action.
“Self-reflection is a humbling process. It’s essential to find out why you think, say, and do certain things…. then better yourself.”
– Sonya Teclai
3. Build friendships with people who have good attitudes.
The people you spend the most time with will have a huge influence on your attitudes and behaviors. Because of this, it’s important to spend time with people with attitudes you want to emulate.
My husband is the most easy-going person I know. He’s kind, thoughtful, and forgiving. We were at an assessment weekend to strengthen our relationship and our own leadership skills. During the course of this weekend, our assigned mentor was overly critical of my husband.
After he made some excessively critical comments about my husband’s shyness, I was livid. I pulled my husband aside and told him that I could have them appoint a different mentor since this man’s comments were beyond critical and bordering on inappropriate. My husband paused, then said, “I don’t know. I think it might help to have someone who sees things differently than we do.”
Just like that, his good attitude diffused my “ready to fight” attitude. After nine years of marriage, I like to believe that some of his good attitudes have rubbed off on me. His attitude is often a source of inspiration to me, and something I’d like to mirror more in the future.
Think about that attitude you’d like to create in yourself and find friends who have that same attitude. As you watch them interact with others, you’ll find new ways to adapt that attitude to your life as well.
“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.”
– Margaret Walker
4. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Pride can be a damaging attitude. It’s important to make sure that you aren’t letting your pride get in the way of your ability to do things well.
I was speaking in front of a large crowd once. On my way up to the platform, I fell flat on my face. I said my little bit, then promptly left the room to go cry in the bathroom. I was so humiliated!
I found out later that the layout of the auditorium made it so almost no one actually saw me fall on my face! In fact, a coworker told me later that week that the only thing he noticed was that I’d taken a little longer than expected to make it to the podium.
All of my wounded pride was for nothing, in the end. When you take yourself too seriously, you don’t leave room for yourself to make mistakes. If you’re too proud of your own attitudes and behaviors, you’ll not see the need to grow when confronted with your mistakes.
You should give yourself grace while being real with yourself about the places where you need to improve. Fostering pride in your life will not lead to better attitudes in the future.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
– Mother Teresa
5. Practice gratitude.
A lot has been written about the power of gratitude to influence and improve our other attitudes. Just as pride can damage our attitudes and behaviors, gratitude can bolster the good things within ourselves.
Take some time every day to think about something you’re thankful for. If you want, write it down in a notebook. As the days pass, you’ll be able to look back on the things you’ve been grateful for previously.
Make sure that your daily gratitude is something real that you’re actually thankful for. For example, if your gratitude is something along the lines of “I’m thankful that this situation isn’t worse,” you shortchange the power of gratitude in your life.
If you’re forcing gratitude because other people have it worse, you don’t actually see the benefits of gratitude in your attitude. Instead, you may build up cynicism and critical attitudes instead.
When you take time each day to be thankful for what you have, your outlook on life improves. You’ll find yourself appreciating others and what they do more. Instead of looking for the worst in each day, you’ll find yourself looking for something be thankful for.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
Your attitude can be changed and improved over time. A better attitude can help take you to better places in life. Your relationships will be richer at home and at work. A positive attitude can help you relate to your coworkers and employers.
Those with great attitudes often receive more opportunities for advancement. Because of this, it’s essential that you take steps to foster a better attitude. Like most things, you need to start by taking a clear inventory of your attitudes.
If others have been hurt by your bad attitudes, you need to take responsibility and make amends to them. When you build relationships with others who have good attitudes, your attitude will more naturally improve.
To change your attitude for the better, it’s important that you move away from pride. Pride only works to damage your outlook, leaving you incapable of accepting criticism for your failings. Gratitude, however, can help influence your other attitudes for the better.
When you take on an attitude of gratitude, you’re able to see the good things in life. Some attitudes may not be easily overcome. It’s important to take small steps each day to improve your attitude. With a better attitude, you can lead a better life.