Whenever something happens in our life, good or bad—we accomplish a feat or are enmeshed in a critical and problematic situation we’re not able to transcend—we immediately conclude that this event happened because of our wrong effort or due to circumstances. This isn’t true. It happened because our mind prompted us to think, we took action, and we experienced the result.
All our life’s deeds are based on our thinking, which we have the ability to change. As we change our mind, we change our life. It’s been established that people create their habits of responding to circumstances within the first six years of their lives.
What formative influences have combined to make us the person we are right now? Today, the person we are is based on the way we think and the way we act. Our actions are based on our thinking, and our thinking is based on what we perceive and believe. We take for granted that many ideas are true when we have no personal experience to support our beliefs. We believe certain things to be true because we’ve been told they’re true by our family, friends, religions, teachers, etc.
According to research at Stanford University, the average person uses far less than 2% of his/her mind’s potential in the course of a lifetime. It’s said that Albert Einstein used about 15% of his mind’s potential. Even using that seemingly small amount of consciousness, he was regarded as a genius.
ATTITUDE—THE SECRET INGREDIENT
The Stanford studies focused on the neocortex, which is the “thinking brain” in the human being. It’s obvious that some people are born with extraordinary abilities, and they take advantage of those gifts, but most of us have talents and abilities that are more or less average. However, each of us has a great inherent potentiality, and that needs to be identified and developed for our success.
Using a simple equation, I establish this fact:
(IQ + AQ) x QA = ILP
IQ – Inborn Quality. This is our natural tendencies or temperament and our general mental ability.
AQ – Acquired Quality. This comprises the knowledge, skill, talent, experience, and ability we gain or develop as we grow and mature.
QA – Quality of Attitude. This is the kind of mental energy we bring to bear on the combination of our Inborn and Acquired Qualities.
ILP – Individual Level of Performance.
So, the equation may be stated thus:
Inborn Quality + Acquired Quality x Quality of Attitude results in our Individual Level of Performance.
The Inborn Quality is the inner aspect of our personality, which is largely fixed at birth. It’s mostly genetic, and we can’t do much to change it.
Our Acquired Quality can be changed through education and experience. This refers to our potential and degree of mastery.
People who are successful in their lives develop and improve their Acquired Quality throughout their lives by engaging in study and practice. The process is often slow and deliberate, so it requires patience, discipline, and considerable effort.
The trump card in the equation is the Quality of Attitude. This insight can change our life and move us from being a mediocre person to an exceptional one. There’s no limit to how much we can improve our Quality of Attitude. A person of average caliber, even if he has fewer Inborn Qualities, can perform at a high level if he has a positive attitude.
Earl Nightingale referred to attitude as the most important word in the language. Attitude may be defined as the way we approach our life. It’s our “angle of attack,” representing our general mental tone and the outward expression of our thoughts and feelings. Attitude is the benchmark of the person. We observe that some people are always happy, cheerful, energetic, and loveable. This is because of their positive mental attitude.
As Epictetus wrote, “Circumstances do not make the man; they merely reveal him to himself.” Where does attitude come from? What causes one person to be positive and another to be negative? Our attitude largely depends on our expectations. Most of us have powerful expectations that exert an immense influence on our personality.
If we expect good things to happen, we must be positive and optimistic in our approach to people and situations. As per the laws of our beliefs, if we hold a benevolent worldview—if we believe this world is a good place and we’re a good person—we’ll expect the best from ourselves, from others, and from the situations we face. Our positive expectations are expressed in our positive attitude. We receive what we give out.
If we wish to control our mind, we must grow in spirituality. The delusionary tendency of our mind must be curbed to create a peaceful and blissful foundation from which to enjoy the Creator’s creation. Unless we allow our awareness to assist in mastering our mind, we’ll always be distracted, and our spiritual growth will be inhibited. The more aware we are, the more we move forward to understanding.
A PRACTICE IN ATTITUDE
Imagine you were born without the ability to hear or see. Imagine what your life would be like. You have the sense of taste and touch, but you can’t hear or see your parents. How do you learn what the world is about? Would you even know that other people in the world can see and hear? How would you express yourself? Even without the ability to hear or see, you have thoughts and feelings that you want to communicate. Your need to communicate may be even more urgent than that of hearing and sighted people. You can vocalize, so perhaps all you do is grunt or scream as a way of being in the world.
Eventually, you get older. As your intellect grows, you’re able to develop—with the help of kind and caring people—a way to communicate using your hands or maybe a machine. You come to realize that you’ve been born with significant “handicaps.” Most people in the world can see and hear, and you can’t do either one. What sort of person do you become, knowing that you’ve been dealt such a rotten hand?
“They took away what should have been my eyes (but I remembered Milton’s Paradise). They took away what should have been my ears (Beethoven came and wiped away my tears). They took away what should have been my tongue (but I had talked with God when I was young). He would not let them take away my soul, possessing that I still possess the whole.”
This is a quote by Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing at 19 months of age—just old enough to be aware of what she once and no longer had. Milton was blind; Beethoven was deaf. Helen Keller is one of the greatest sages and visionaries of our time. Her secret? An attitude of gratitude.
What are you grateful for? Make a point of bringing to mind the blessings in your life whenever you’re faced with problems.
Whenever you become anxious or upset, ask yourself? How important is this thing I’m so upset about? Will I even remember it in a week? You’ll be amazed at how much of what we consider to be major problems in our day is really small stuff, and we know better than to sweat the small stuff.