I’m thinking about people I’ve met over the years, some from childhood. Though I can’t remember some of their names, there’s a kind of “imprint” of the kind of person they impressed me to be. The impressions have to do with attitudes they portrayed. There is such power in attitudes that affect your life – and other lives, too. In fact, they can set your path for a long time. That’s why we should be aware of them and choose carefully.
What Are Attitudes?
To put it simply, attitudes are habits of thought a person chooses to adopt and practice. But because attitudes also inhabit territory of your heart, they have direct influence over the kind of person you are. You can manage attitudes, even change them. Why would that be? Because you can renew thoughts and refresh your heart. Rom. 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Attitudes are elements of life that reveal additional information is present. They don’t just happen. They are responses to other data points – choices a person makes as they navigate through each day. The power of attitudes is enough to turn the direction of an individual, a culture group, a community, even an entire nation. So the power is significant.
Attitude power can be a very positive force or a negative force. Sometimes it’s a force with devastating effects. Attitudes are also powerful enough to make life enjoyable, even adventurous, despite less than desired circumstances. When we take responsibility for our own attitudes, we begin to wield the power they contain.
Components Of Attitudes
There are 3 main components that make up an attitude. These components are basic human processes that you and I engage hundreds of times every day. These important parts of our lives make us the people we are.
- Actions (or potential actions)
The Good News
The good news about attitudes is that we can conform each attitude into something that makes life better. Even when suffering or being persecuted, the ability to “train” an attitude is a unique power – and a privilege.
More good news! Often with a simple “tweek,” you can change an attitude. Just a slight shift can help change one’s attitude to become a positive, healthy power that serves us well and the people around us who share our lives.
In other words – you can choose!
What Scripture Says
Prov. 15:13a says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” A happy heart is a choice – a decision any person can make. I just want to make a notation: this is a bit different than when tragedy strikes your life and you find yourself in the stages of grieving.
Eph. 5:20 says, “. . . always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, no matter the circumstances, a person can decide how they will conduct themselves.
Prov. 15:1 talks about the power to turn a situation onto another path. “A gentle answer (soft, sensitive, kind, mild) turns away wrath, but a harsh word (vengeance, flared temper, anger, quarrelsome, fury) stirs up anger.”
1 Thess. 5:16-18 is a list of helpful choices that directly influence attitudes.
- Rejoice always,
- Pray without ceasing,
- Give thanks in all circumstances.
- This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This verse promotes the attitude of gratitude. God loves when His children are thankful. This attitude brings out the best in a person and connects them to God’s original design.
Let’s briefly summarize the content so far:
- Your attitudes influence yourself and others around you.
- This influence is a power God created you with.
- Attitudes have 3 components: thoughts, feelings, actions (potential actions).
- Attitudes can be conformed into something even more influential. You can train them.
- With a simple tweek, many attitudes can be changed.
- You can adopt an attitude (later in this content).
There is a saying – “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll
This famous quote is a reminder we don’t need to be controlled by circumstances. Guess where attitudes fit into that saying. They do not fit in the 10%. They fit in the 90%. That means – you do have a lot more control than you may realize. Even when things go poorly, attitudes can be the power that keeps you on track as you respond to life.
When It Doesn’t Look Good
Let’s look at a longer, powerful passage. Hab. 3:17 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.”
Bad days. Terrible things out of your control. That passage paints a dismal picture. But the conclusion is all about an “adopted attitude.” This individual insists they will make choices that influence their attitude. Notice the words “rejoice” and “take joy.” These are decisions, not feelings. That’s why you can make them yours, no matter what your feelings or circumstances are. If you use this power from God’s original design, attitudes will triumph over feelings! Say that again to yourself – out loud!
With this kind of approach, you can use all your circumstances to develop noble character – no matter what happens. You can be a master of your attitudes, not a victim. It’s up to you. Why not choose noble attitudes?
Scripture says, “. . . take every thought captive.” (2 Cor. 10:5) This includes attitudes.
Here’s another saying, and it’s a choice you can make with attitudes that don’t belong.
“Drive the occupiers out!” (President Zelensky)
10 Steps To Develop A Positive Attitude
- Be “other-centered.” Lk. 6:38 says, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
- Think healthy thoughts. Prime your pump to get a flow of fresh words. Start with what pleases God. Phil. 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
- Phil. 2:14 says to be joyful and thankful in all circumstances. (without grumbling or arguing)
- Develop a habit of a happy disposition – and be “fun” to be around.
- Be enthusiastic. “En theos,” from the origins of the word enthusiastic, means “God within.” When you remember God dwells inside, you can affect others through positive attitudes. Plus it gives you confidence.
- Choose to see your problems as opportunities.
- If you set high, achievable goals, you focus your influence.
- Attitudes need to be carried into best practice behaviors and words. Choose noble character in your thoughts, feelings, actions (or potential action).
- Frustrations will still exist in life, but your can tweek your attitudes for better control over frustrating conditions.
- Living in the power of God’s Spirit means being a living sacrifice. Surrender to God connects you with your original design.
Rom. 12:2 talks about being a living sacrifice and connecting with your original design. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
By dying to self, you can be more alive than ever. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mt. 16:25; Mk. 8:35; Lk. 9:24) So why not give up what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.
A famous missionary who gave up his life to tell a people group about Jesus said – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot, October 28, 1949 journal entry)
What words, choices, attitudes do you want to be known for when your life ends? Why not be an influence of noble character by using one of the strongest tools God gave you – your attitudes?
Application Thoughts and Questions
- Who did you meet in earlier years that left an impression on you because of their attitudes?
- Were those impressions positive or negative?
- What kind of influence do you have by your attitudes? What impressions are you making on others?
- How are you managing your thoughts, feelings, and actions (potential actions) to form best attitudes?
- Are you willing to ask God – and then do the necessary work – to change your attitudes to be healthy?
- Do you believe “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it?” Remember: attitudes are in the 90%.
- Why not adopt an attitude of noble character and be who God designed you to be?
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