“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” –William James
I spent 8 years in higher education (earn two degrees), 15 years beyond that as a pastor for a mainline denomination, and studied human psychology, pastor counseling and theology. It took a man with no more than a high school education and a background in construction to teach me something real about people, about me.
I was having a bad day and it wasn't even 10:00 am. I’d had an argument with my wife. My children were not behaving the way I wanted them to, and my work schedule for the day was so packed that I knew I wouldn't be able to get all of it done. My brain hurt, my back hurt and I pretty much hated everything and everybody at that moment.
My boss at the time took note of my bad attitude and asked me to come into his office. I did. He listened to my story and then paused before saying, “You have two choices this morning. You can stay pissed and have a sorry day, or you can do something about your attitude.” He reached in the desk drawer and handed me a card* that resembled one of those “do not disturb” door hangers. On the front and back were a series of saying, positive affirmations. He told me to take it and if I wanted to change my attitude to read the saying out load on the way to my first appointment for that day. My attitude wasn't very receptive. I thought of all the psychological cliques that I knew. I thought about how what I was going through was much bigger than a few clever and witty sayings. I thought of a hundred reasons why his suggestion was, at best, inadequate. I didn't challenge him. I took the card and headed for the truck. As I walked out of his office he said one more thing, “I bet you’re too chicken to try it.”
I smiled and for some reason warmed up to the idea of proving him wrong. On the way to my first appointment, I read them out load:
“I will win. Why? I’ll tell you why – because I have faith courage and enthusiasm.”
“Today I will meet the right people in the right place at the right time for the betterment of all.”
“I see opportunity in every challenge.”
“When I fail, I only look at what I did right.”
“I’ll never take advice from someone more messed up than I am.”
The readings continued, and so did the change in my attitude. There is great power in the words we speak to ourselves, and by the time I was done – I did feel better and begin to think on the things I could do to be effective and successful that day. I have never forgotten that lesson.
So, I believe who we are begins with what we believe and what we believe is created by what we do every day.