“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”
I remember hearing this quote from Chuck Swindoll growing up. Being naturally prone to worry and depression, my parents would often have to remind me that my life circumstances did not need to define my happiness. It was not until very recently, however, that I truly came to realize the value of this perspective. In fact, I think I could go so far as to say—
Your attitude defines your existence.
This is a strong statement. But think about it. Any positive situation can be turned to a negative one by a negative person. I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of that. Conversely, any negative situation can be turned into a positive one by a person with a great attitude. You are made happy or unhappy by your own choice of perspective.
Of course, there is a place for grief and mourning in everyone’s life; even Jesus grieved. I am not talking about that in this instance—but rather, general day to day annoyances that we can either choose to let affect us negatively, or choose to take on as a learning experience or challenge. As G.K. Chesterton said, “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
Take a look at this blog post from Dr. Kavanaugh from a few years back in which he discusses the power of attitude.
Every year, during one of my teachings to our Interns, I bring up this wonderful story about the great soprano, Beverly Sills:
One of the most renowned singers of the 20th century was Beverly Sills. She rose to the pinnacle of her profession. But of course, there were hundreds of other outstanding sopranos who didn’t make it. The difference? Her incredible attitude.
Listen to this anecdote. Once Beverly Sills was at an evening reception given in her honor. She had rehearsed all that afternoon, and still had an entire opera to sing later that night. At one point her hostess said to her, “I know you must be tired. I’m sorry you have to sing an opera tonight.” Sills responded with vigor: “I don’t have to sing an opera tonight. I get to sing an opera tonight.”
With all her fame, Beverly Sills never forgot that it is a fantastic privilege to sing for thousands who paid top dollar to hear the opera. That’s a great attitude.
How can we apply this same attitude to our own lives? Well, how about…
When you wake up in the morning, instead of thinking, “Nuts! I have to go to work today,” change it to “I get to go to work today.” (Hey, there are a lot of unemployed folks who would love to have your job.)
Students, when you have a huge paper to write, change “Nuts! I have to do this huge paper,” to “I get to write a paper to further my education.” (There are thousands of people around the world who would give anything to go to your school.)
Performers, when you have to play in a boring gig, change, “Nuts! I have to play this boring gig,” to “I get the amazing opportunity of using my talents to bless others.”
Is changing your attitude easy? No, it usually takes time. But this is one of the reasons the Bible admonishes us: “No not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Roman 12:2
Fortunately, we’re not alone in this process. If we’re really trying to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind,” the Lord will give us grace to help us through every step on the journey.
I know this may sound like a far stretch. Maybe it seems idealistic. But it is incredibly important, and I challenge you to give it a try. Let’s strive to live “get to” lives.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)