Attitude is Everything

We’ve seen this slogan everywhere.

Attitude is everything.

Many of us are turned off by it. Part of the reason is that it’s often associated with winning and the attitude of being a winner. Which of course means that there must be a loser and for some of us that’s just too much conflict.

Yes, winning and losing are consistent concepts of life and we move in and out of these states in an ever flowing dance and as such becoming too attached to one state or the other only invites its opposite. Just not in the way we might wish.

We all deep down want to win. For some of us, though, the thought of losing is so painful we avoid the contest entirely. We purposefully choose losing in order to avoid the pain of not winning.

I think this misses the point.

Attitude is everything.

A winning attitude can be helpful, but it in and of itself is not everything.

A winning attitude is not the only possible attitude one can have.

The choice as I see it is really between light and dark, positive and negative, and there are a million variations here.

How do you approach a task? How does that affect your task?

There’s a Buddhist story from Korea. A young monk is traveling in a storm, late a night. In the dark he stumbles upon a small temple and takes shelter inside. Exhausted from his travels he falls quickly into a deep slumber. At some point in the night he wakes up, painfully thirsty. Putting his hand out, in the dark, he finds a bowl of water at hand and quenches his thirst. Just as quickly as before, he falls back asleep.

In the morning he wakes. In the light of dawn he surveys his shelter, a small country temple in disrepair. There are holes in the roof and bones scattered across the floor. In the corner a shrine, at one time containing the bones of a beloved local priest, had been desecrated and its contents scattered.

The bowl from which our monk had quenched his nighttime thirst turned out to be the upper portion of a skull, presumably that of the desecrated priest. The water, rain that had dripped in from a roof in disrepair.

Shrugging the monk gathered the scattered bones, returned them to their rightful place and went on his way.

Attitude is everything.

Given this scenario I think most of us would have freaked out. Wouldn’t you agree?

But to what end?

The monk’s needs were met. If fact, in the middle of the night he was perfectly satisfied, both with his shelter and his refreshment. Our objection then is with their circumstances and only now, after the fact. What’s the point in being upset?

Attitude is everything.

How you choose to view your circumstances has more to do with your experience of those circumstances than the circumstances themselves.

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