You can choose a good attitude, starting today, and improve just about everything in your life.
Attitude is a decision that we make every day (and oftentimes throughout each day), and choosing to have a good one builds relationships and opens doors like few other habits or behaviors can.
New York Times best-selling author Jon Acuff covers this topic extensively in his excellent new book, Do Over. He says that choosing a good attitude "is the one thing you can do right this minute to actually shock your boss, improve your work relationships and dramatically increase your long-term odds of an awesome career."
Acuff believes that deciding to have a good attitude is one of the best ways to be successful. And it makes sense -- People want to help others who display gratitude, positivity, and optimism. Creativity also flourishes with an open mind. And having a consistently good attitude makes you much more likeable and trustworthy, while lifting the spirits of those around you.
Conversely, it has the opposite effect when we gossip and act cynical. Few things are relationship or career killers like entitlement, pessimism, and negativity.
It doesn't matter how talented, experienced, or hard-working you are -- if you have a bad attitude, then your options will be limited.
Jack and Suzy Welch, co-authors of the book The Real-Life MBA, also agree with this principle. They believe that "loving everyone" is one of the best ways to get unstuck in business. Their advice is to "refuse to talk about other people unless it's in positive terms. Refuse to join surreptitious coalitions. Refuse to backstab and politick."
Acuff's recommendations are similar. He urges us to "choose not to be cynical. Choose not to act like you're doing them a favor by showing up. Choose not to complain."
And while Acuff and the Welches have focused on the professional benefits of a good attitude, this principle absolutely applies to our personal lives as well. Relationships are critical in all facets of our lives, and they are built and strengthened based on the way we interact with others.
Obviously choosing a good attitude is easier said than done. It is remarkably easy to slip into a pattern of negative (and counterproductive) behavior, especially when we're not conscious of it. We have all been there for one reason or another. Maintaining a good attitude is something many of us struggle with.
But attitude is absolutely in our control.
When you might be inclined to react in a harsh or overly-critical way, stop and take a deep breath. It always helps to hit pause when emotions are riding high. Walk around the block, think about something that makes you happy, and force yourself to smile. Remember about all of the benefits of deciding to have a good attitude instead. This is very challenging to do in the moment, but almost always the smart choice in the long run.
Attitude is a skill that can be developed if we stay mindful of it.
A good attitude is one choice we can all make, starting today, to dramatically improve our work and our lives.