Sunday, November 12, 2006

Attitude

I made it through what could have been a difficult week. It actually turned out to be a pretty good week, and I'm very grateful for that. The details of why it could have been a difficult week aren't important, it's the reasons why it was a pretty good week, and the lessons learned, that matter.

I've known for a long time that "attitude" is important, but knowing it and applying it are two different propositions. For me they are, anyway. Just because I realize the implicit truth of a matter, doesn't mean I'll allow my actions to be influenced by that truth.

That's one of the great frustrations of my life, and one of the great perplexities. In the last few years I've been better about doing the right thing, because I've made it a concious effort. I try to apply the "would God (my God, not yours) be smiling or frowning" test to big decisions, and small ones too, if I have doubt about the course of action I'm taking. And when I do the right thing even though it might not be what I want to do, I have to try to do it with the right attitude. Sulking while doing a favor diminishes the value of the action.

When I take a sober look at my life as it is today, I feel pretty good about things. My life just a few years ago was so dark and empty that it had no value for me or anyone else. I was an existence that was drawing to a close, withering and succumbing to a complete lack of spirit. I didn't implode, there wasn't sufficient energy for that. I folded and collapsed. But thanks to some friends and family, I had a life altering experience, and in a moment of clarity I realized the core, the truth, of what needed to change. I was tremendously grateful for this epiphany, and I started trying to live my life accordingly. I had to change my entire perspective, starting with how I viewed myself.

It had to start with acceptance, humility and gratitude. I started a new approach to life with the perspective that I probably should be dead, and every day is a gift. This was easy to do in the beginning, as my near-death experience was so fresh and raw. But as the days go by, the freshness of that experience fades, and it's easy to go back to the same old perspective of "Why aren't things going my way?", and start having an attitude of expectations and entitlement. When I allow myself to start thinking this way, inevitably I get into a rut. I'll start thinking that I deserve better. My immaturity starts to exert itself, and self pity soon follows. Then every little thing bothers me, and I go through the day grumbling and moaning about the state of my existence.

The fact is, if I got what I deserved, I'd probably be in jail or dead right now. That's the truth of the matter. So if I want to live in the truth, I need to be grateful for what I've got and just keep trying to do the right things, with the right attitude, and accept the outcome for being what it is supposed to be.

My attitude is the one thing I do control. It's the one thing that I bring to the table that no one else can fuck with, unless I let them. It's my decision whether I will have a positive attitude, a negative attitude, an "I don't give a fuck" attitude, or any other. My choice.

I find that it's easier to have a positive attitude if I keep my expectations for the behavior of others on a realistic level. My happiness is often in inverse proportion to my level of expectations. This has been my experience, it is a truth that I know. So why is it so hard to remember? It perplexes me.

So once again last week, the truth was reinforced for me. If I approach the day with a positive attitude, be willing to accept what happens regardless of the outcome, and just do the right thing, the day will generally turn out okay and I'll get a good nights sleep. It's a pretty simple concept, but so hard to apply.

I'll see if I can get it right again this week.

Peace, and five alarm chili for the brave and bold...

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