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It’s been said that perception is reality. But what is interesting is that we are able to control our perception of things. How we look at things is a choice. We are each able to control our perception or viewpoint of things as well as our attitude or how we feel about it, and how we respond to it.
Some think that perception and attitude are one and the same. They’re not. The difference between perception and attitude is that perception is the use of the mind and/or senses to comprehend or understand one’s surroundings. Perception is about awareness and assessment. Not just seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking… but assessing the input received and then evaluating or estimating the nature, ability or quality of that information.
For example, the weatherman forecasts an 80% chance of rain for the day. When you go outside, the sky is gray. It is windy and there are dark ominous clouds overhead. It begins to rain. With your mind and senses, you confirm that it is in fact raining. But in evaluating the information, you also think “It is raining. Oh, it is not a good day to mow the lawn.” That is your perception. You not only are aware of the fact that it is raining but you evaluated that the weather is not right for doing yardwork. That is your perception… your understanding of the surroundings. But to someone else, like a farmer whose crops need rain, his perception of the rain might be “oh, it will be a good day for my crops. It hasn’t rained in weeks.” His take on the rain will be evaluated according to his own surroundings.
Attitude, on the other hand, is about a person’s actual feeling or way of thinking about something based on their perception. So the person who had wanted to mow his lawn on the weekend but found that it was raining might feel disappointed by the fact that it is raining. He might have a negative attitude about it and be upset. On the other hand, the farmer might feel joyful that his crop will get the irrigation they need. He will have a positive attitude, feeling happy and grateful.
So there is an inherent link between perception and attitude. But both are a choice. And then there’s approach and action. After a person receives and perceives information, and decides how he feels about it, the next step is approach and action. For example, the person who had planned to do yardwork but was thwarted by rain might decide that, while it is a bad day for yardwork, it is a good day to declutter his office. He decides to turn a rainy day into a positive and make good use of the time indoors. His approach was to turn a negative into a positive, change his attitude about it, and take steps to make use of the time. His perception and attitude about the rain became his reality.
A positive perspective and attitude can be great assets and these are things that are totally within one’s control. Neither negative people nor negative circumstances should be allowed to take control of one’s attitude. It is ultimately up to each person to choose their attitude. So how we perceive the year ahead is not just about reality but also assessing the information and deciding how to best receive it. However, taking control of one’s perspective and attitude may feel difficult (or perhaps impossible) in light of so many challenges. So how does one become adept at choosing to not just see what is but search for the opportunities of any situation, choose to have a good attitude, adopt a positive approach and take steps to reclaim and make every day a great day? Here are some tips from psychologists and life coaches.
How to Make Lemonade out of Lemons Every Day
1. Keep Company with Positive People
This is essential for improving attitude. The people you surround yourself with most of the time will radiate their energy and optimism (or lack thereof) upon you and how you live your life. Be sure they also embrace a positive attitude, and uplift rather than depress. There will be times when things aren’t going well and that is when it is critically important to have good, positive people on hand to encourage, support and inspire.
2. Accept and Tolerate Others’ Flaws and Limitations
There are times when one may feel disappointed by other people’s actions or non-action. Instead of anger or retaliation, the better approach to both improve the situation and protect one’s own attitude is to forgive and let go. Most don’t even understand why they do the things they do or say the things they say. Forgiveness and tolerance serves as a way to heal and help oneself and not allow others’ actions to poison one’s attitude. Grudges only cause harm. Or we are irritated by their way of being. It helps to remember that everyone has flaws and limitations. There is value in differences.
3. Act with Purpose
Do some soul searching and determine your purpose in life. Then, ensure that your actions are in line with your values and who you are. Live and function with a sense of purpose, knowing the effect you have on those around you and what drives your own behavior.
4. Act without Expecting Anything in Return
When we tie our own behavior to what we want from others, there is a huge opportunity for disappointment and dissatisfaction. Avoid that. Instead, do what you do without expecting anything in return. Act out of a sense of intentionality, kindness and altruism. Then, no matter how our actions are received and what response they elicit, there is no opportunity for being let down because nothing was expected in the first place.
5. Be Polite
Being polite is not a hard thing to do. Yet, so often, people forget these simple words, especially with those who are closest. If you want to improve your attitude, use “Please,” and, “Thank you,” at every opportunity. Why? The law of reciprocity says that you get what you give. So when you demonstrate appreciation, others will be more inclined to do the same in return… not that you should expect it. (See #4)
6. Avoid Comparisons
Stop comparing yourself to others. It is only by comparison that someone else’s life might seem better, and that is where dissatisfaction and unhappiness begins. But in truth, we are only getting an external curated view of a person’s life… without the nitty gritty problems and messiness of life. Things most likely look different behind closed doors. So focusing only on one’s own life helps keep out jealousy and covetousness. This helps keep a more open perception and positive attitude.
7. Expect Good Things
Some people always focus on the bad of a situation. Like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh story, some people have a propensity to look at what’s going wrong instead of what is going right. In fact, for some people, moaning and complaining is second-nature and they don’t even realize they are doing it. But there is nothing to be gained by focusing on the bad. Instead, try focusing only on the good. Expect the very best out of every situation. Envision what that looks like and behave accordingly.
8. Live in the Now
With the start of the year, there is probably 100 things on the To Do list. Errands to run. Goals. New ideas to roll out. There are plans for the future. Thoughts about how to do better this year than last year. But, too often we spend so much time thinking about the past and future that we miss out on today, never really living in the moment. This disrupts one’s inner peace and affects mood and attitude. Instead, focus on what is happening now. Be in the present moment. This will reduce anxiety, stress and worry about what was or will be, and allows for a positive outlook on today.
By choosing to perceive what is happening now in the best possible light and find the good in every moment, we redeem each day and make it a great day. That is not something that is left to chance. It is something we can each control completely, and that guarantees that 2021 will be a great year.
9. Smile and Walk Tall
How you carry your outside can have a profound effect on how you perceive the world, think and feel. A smile goes a long way toward making inside thoughts align with an outward disposition. Also, good posture, deep breathing and a head held high tells our inner self that things are fine. So when things are going wrong, control your outer self and your inner thoughts will likely align with that.
Quote of the Week
“Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.” Allen Klein
© 2021, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.