One of the most important personality traits required for the achievement of a successful life is a positive attitude.
I'm not talking about a Pollyannish attitude that everything is wonderful, life is always happy, and everything will be easy - because it's not.
• Pollyanna is a best-selling children's novel by Eleanor H. Porter. In the book, Pollyanna is a young girl with irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.
What I mean when I say positive attitude might be more accurately described as a realistic attitude. Everything is not wonderful, a person cannot always be happy, and life takes a lot of work and is sometimes difficult. Where the positive attitude comes in is that, even though sometimes life can be difficult, you believe you know you can handle it. So what I'm really talking about is a positive realist.
You believe that you are physically capable, or you can find a way, to handle problems that take physical capability, and that you are mentally capable, or you can acquire the knowledge to handle problems that life throws at you.
Lets compare the thoughts of a person with a positive attitude, lets call her Pat, with the thoughts of a person with a pessimistic attitude, lets call him Noland. They both need to find a job. Pat thinks, "with my energy and ambition, anyone would be very happy to hire me." Noland thinks, "why bother to go to interviews, nobody will hire me."
After they both get a job, Pat thinks, "If I work hard I will advance, maybe become a manager." Noland thinks, "I should do as little work as I can get away with and still keep getting the pay check."
At work, when they are given an assignment, Pat thinks, "I will learn what I need to know and make extra effort to do a great job on this task." Noland thinks, "I'll probably screw this up, then from now on they'll know to only give me easy jobs."
Things are changing rapidly in today's economy. Businesses frequently need to develop new methods and procedures. When informed of a new procedure, Pat thinks, "We may need to work a few bugs out of this new procedure, I'm going to do what I can to help to make it work." Noland thinks, "I don't want to be bothered with new procedures. This new procedure will never work. When I find a bug in it, I'll let it screw up we can go back to the old way of doing things."
If you were a boss, which employee would you want in your department? Which person would you be most likely to promote? When the economy slows and layoffs are required, which employee would you want to keep around?
The advantages of a positive attitude also effect peoples private lives. Pat looks forward with optimism to what the future will bring. Noland thinks, "nothing good lasts forever" and "life is wonderful - if your rich".
Well, maybe there are good things that won't last forever, but nothing bad lasts forever either. And, although there are advantages to being rich, you'll notice that most rich people work very hard, because without proper investment even large amounts of money will simply evaporate. And when the stock market crashes, rich people have been known to jump out of the windows of high buildings.
Pat has confidence that society and our engineers and scientists will solve the problems of unhealthy food, pollution, and global warming. Noland wonders which will kill him first, food preservatives or global warming.
When Pat goes on vacation she looks forward to new sights and new experiences. Noland doesn't like to take vacations because he thinks, "it will probably rain every day on my vacation."
If you get sick, which doctor would you want? One who is believes they can bring you back to health no matter how sick you are, or one who views you as being "half dead"?
Don't be a Pollyanna. The world has problems. Life can be tough. But you're strong and you can learn whatever you need to know to handle the difficulties that life brings your way. Now you know the power of a positive attitude.