Chuck Swindoll expresses his beliefs about attitude in a poem, “The Importance of Attitude”:
“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
My dad lived his life based on this poem. He had cancer for 12 years, and his doctor often told him that it was his attitude that had kept him alive for so many years. Every day, he would wake up to the spinning ceiling fan, and would be so grateful that he had one more day with the ones he loved. Others, with a pessimistic viewpoint, would have seen the ceiling fan as one more day to live with the dreadful disease. This optimistic outlook kept him with us for twelve wonderful years. I believe that 90% of success is based on one’s attitude. No matter what is thrown at you, your chances for victory are so much greater if you have a positive attitude.
A doctor once shared an inspiring story with me that I will never forget. It was about two of his patients, who had both been diagnosed with cancer. The first, a man, was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and was told he had only a few months to live. The other, a woman, had a treatable cancer, and was informed that her chance of survival was high. After hearing news of her disease, the woman became depressed and was on the brink of death only months after her diagnosed date. On the other hand, the man with little to no odds had been living a relatively normal life for three years! That man decided to fight, and never let his disease control his life. He understood that he could not change his fate, and therefore lived his life to the fullest. On the contrary, the woman threw in the towel, and therefore lost her battle against the disease.
I believe that many people grow to be miserable as they try to change the inevitable. Instead, the only way that one can improve is by changing the attainable. If we idle over a disease, it may overcome our lives, and eventually take them from us. The victorious are those who realize the important things in life, and act on them before it becomes too late.
I have found that the only way to be happy in life is to have a positive attitude. My dad was my greatest teacher, and I apply his lesson to my life everyday. No matter how strong, how rich, how beautiful one is, they can achieve nothing without a positive attitude. It is what helps us get through those rough times that no amount of money can do. So, tomorrow when you wake up and see the ceiling fan spinning overhead, be grateful for all that you have and make that day even better than the one before.
Swindoll, Chuck. “The Importance of Attitude.” The Practice of Leadership. 30 September 2007.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.