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7 Strategies for a Lasting Positive Attitude

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

Think back to when you started a new job at a company. You were all excited about the job, the company, your products, your services, your customers, and your future. Your enthusiasm and positive attitude were obvious to everyone around you. But then, before too long, a long-time employee came along side you and said, "Well, that's fine. But wait until you've been here for a couple of months. You'll see how bad things really are."

If you weren't careful, you might have caught his or her pessimism. After all, a negative attitude is just as contagious as the "common" cold. You cannot afford to catch it. The research makes that clear.

The cost of having a negative attitude
Dr. Martin Seligman, the author of "Learned Optimism" studied 1500 people and their attitudes towards their jobs, wondering if that would make any difference. Indeed it did! At the end of 20 years, only one of the pessimistic people had become a millionaire, while 100 of the optimistic folks had become millionaires.

If money seems to be too shallow of an indicator, then look at the impact of a negative attitude on health. For example, Dr. James Strain, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, compared pessimistic and optimistic men who had heart attacks. He discovered that 21 of 25 pessimists died within 8 years of their heart attacks ... while only 6 of 25 optimistic men died in that time period. And if you want to get gut-honest about the dangers of a negative attitude, look at the Oxford, Ohio study on aging. People who viewed aging with a negative attitude died 7.5 years earlier than those who had a positive attitude towards aging.

Put all those things together and the conclusion is obvious. It will be very difficult ... if not impossible ... to have a happy and productive life and career if you're saddled with a negative attitude.

If that sounds like you, don't lose heart. You CAN change your attitude once and for all. Let's get started on your attitude transformation right now.

Seven strategies for building a lasting positive attitude

1. Start your day with positive thoughts.
When you first awaken, what are your first thoughts? Do you think, "Ugh, I've GOT to go to work today?" or do you think, "Gee, I GET to go to work today?" Let me remind you that no matter what job you have, there are millions of people who would love to have your job ... or any job ... for that matter. Be very careful about cursing your blessings. So when you first awaken, consciously dwell on some positive thoughts for a few moments. It's kind of like feeding yourself a good, healthy, nutritious breakfast. It tends to stick with you and help you throughout the day.

2. Start your day with positive behaviors.
You may not be able to "feel" your way into a new way of acting, but you can "act" your way into a new way of feeling. In other words, if you do some positive things or take some positive actions, you will invariably feel better. So, before you take off for work in the morning, you might leave a loving note for someone at home to find. You might tell your partner or parent that you appreciate him or her. And on the way to work you might look for two or three caring things you can do for others, whether you know them or not.

3. Care for your body.
You're probably wondering, "What? What does my body have to do with my attitude?" As it turns out, quite a bit. It's almost impossible to lovingly take care of yourself and NOT have a good attitude. And it's almost impossible to let your body fall apart AND have a good attitude. So get some daily exercise. Eat right and drink right. Get plenty of sleep. And if need be, "Get yourself a new look," as the respected sales trainers Scott Anderson and Chip Kudrle recommend. They say, "Whether it be a new hair style or a completely new wardrobe, you will feel better when you do something for yourself."

4. Engage your spirituality.
I won't tell you what to believe ... unless you ask me ... but I will tell you this, there's positive power in almost every religion or spiritual belief. So tap into that power, and let it build and reinforce your growing positive attitude. Believe there is a Higher Power that cares about you and is willing to help you. Clarify your purpose ... because if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything. Go out and help people ... not only because it's the "nice" or "right" thing to do ... but also because it will give you a research-documented "helper's high" for hours and days afterwards.

5. Change your self-talk from permanent to temporary.
Instead of saying, "My boss is always on my case," say, "My boss can be difficult at times." Instead of saying, "All the customer cares about is price," say, "Sometimes price is the only factor the customer thinks about." Instead of saying, "I'll never have any money," say, "I can develop better money management skills." And instead of saying, "I always attract losers," say, "Just because I attracted losers in the past doesn't mean I will do so in the future." How you talk to yourself makes a huge difference. If you talk about challenging things as being "permanent," you will create a negative attitude. But if you describe your challenges as "temporary," you're more likely to have a positive attitude.

6. Change your self-talk from universal to specific.
Instead of saying, "Training programs are useless," say, "This training program is a waste of my time." Instead of saying, "No one ever cares about what happens to our team," say, "Our team is having a difficult time getting engaged in the XYZ project." Pessimists tend to make "universal" statements, that certain negative conditions will "always" be with them. Optimists are smarter than that. They are able to isolate a negative situation and talk about it as a "specific" point in time that will ... most likely ... not go on "forever."

7. Look forward to the positive.
The cynics say, "I'll believe it when I see it." However, the most effective people in the world think quite differently. They think, "I'll see it when I believe it." In other words, they know that they are much more likely to experience good things in life and at work ... IF they believe those good things are going to come their way. To put this into practice, try this. On the way home from work, rather than think about the problems you're going to have with your sick child, your messy house, or uncut lawn, think of how good it will feel to be in your home. Think of the hug you're going to give someone or receive from someone. Think of taking a shower to refresh yourself and putting your feet up while you listen to your favorite music. Think of how good that cold beer or glass of wine will taste as you sit down to relax. Then make that happen for you.

As Abraham Lincoln so keenly observed, "People are about as happy as they make their minds up to be." It's true. And it's amazing how much better your attitude will be if you just make up your mind to follow these seven strategies.

If you could only choose one of these seven strategies to work on right now, which one would you choose? And how will you implement that strategy?

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success, Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for more information.
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