What’s in your Attitude?
by Rev. Karen Fleming
O.K., I admit it – I enjoy watching funny T.V. commercials. Like the “What’s in your wallet” commercials (for a here-unnamed credit card) with the barbarians visiting different cities. Yes, it’s silly – but admit it, there are some T.V. commercials that we actually enjoy watching (and some where we just change the channel).
That commercial reminds us that we choose what to put in our wallet – their brand credit card, or another. They want to convince us that putting their brand card in our wallet will make a difference.
But we also get to choose something much more important than what credit card to carry. We get to choose what Attitude we carry around every day. And our attitude does make a difference – a greater difference than what we carry in our wallet.
When we think of attitude, we think of sayings such as “Have an Attitude of Gratitude” or “Count Your Blessings”. But as it turns out, those are more than just bumper-sticker sayings or cross-stitch quotations. Research has shown over and over again that having a positive attitude helps us to live longer, happier lives.
Research studies at the Mayo Clinic, Duke University, University of California (Davis) and more show the same results – those who “Count their Blessings” have better physical, psychological and social outcomes than those who focus on the negative. They found better sleeping habits, heart health – even better marriage outcomes – with the simple act of gratitude, counting blessings, and an optimistic outlook.
One study asked participants to write in a journal each night before going to bed. One group was instructed to write down five things that hassled them during the day - another group to write five things they were grateful for. At the end of the study, the group that had “counted their blessings” reported more hours of sleep each night, less time to fall asleep, and feeling more restful upon awakening than the group that focused on hassles. The “blessings” group also reported better social interaction with spouses and others.
Another study followed cardiac patients post-heart attack. Patients with an optimistic attitude showed better health and less chance of a second heart attack than those with a negative attitude.
If these physical and psychosocial benefits were available in a pill, or at the local health club, there would be a rush to sign up! So, how do we start? Here are a few simple (and free) ways:
• “Count Your Blessings” every day. This can be in a journal, or in your prayers. Remember family, friends, and loved ones.
• Watch your language. What language do you use towards others? Words of encouragement – or discouragement?
• Think outside the box. Think of the little things to be grateful for – and creative ways to thank and encourage others.
So, what’s in your Attitude? You can make it a good one – today.
Rev. Karen Fleming is Chaplain/Director of Pastoral Care at Mount Pleasant Retirement Village in Monroe, an OPRS community.