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Attitude 1, Facts 0

A key to life came in yesterday's email.

Hubby and I got a note from his aunt, who was updating us on her husband's recovery from a stroke. He is getting around slowly and sounds a bit depressed, understandably. She is urging him to get a bit of exercise each day, even if it's just going to get the mail. In the meantime, she said, "I dwell on the positive, & do things to take my mind off myself." Sounds reasonable and healthy enough.

But then came the kicker. She added, "Attitude is much more important than facts."

My jaw dropped. My first thought was: No wonder she thinks George W. Bush is the best thing since sliced bread! Never let the facts get in the way of a good story...

Then I calmed down and thought some more about what she had written. And I began to see why she is such an indomitable woman, how she has endured past challenges, how she and her husband have made it together, in sickness and in health, for more than 60 years.

Attitude, my online dictionary tells me, is "a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior." So this aunt thinks, feels and behaves as if her life -- and her husband's -- will be what she wants it to be. And darned if it doesn't happen in many cases, just by her sheer force of will!

I think about the Hospice training I took many years ago, when the trainers told us about patients who incredibly survived until some special family event -- a child's wedding, a grandchild's birth -- and then were able to let go. I think about people who have survived diagnoses they were told were hopeless, about people who have achieved things in their lives they didn't know they could.

I read the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists' statement that CBT "is based on the idea that our THOUGHTS cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel/act better even if the situation does not change."

This was not a new concept to me, but somehow it came real and possible to me when I read our aunt's email.

"Attitude is much more important than facts."

This is a glimmer of hope for me. How has it played out in your life?

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Hmmm. I am such a Libra, because I can see it both ways.

First, I absolutely believe that one's attitude is a major factor of achieving success, happiness, and fulfillment in life. I love quotes about attitude. My two favorites are from Lincoln (paraphrasing..."Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be" and one by Charles Swindoll, too long to reproduce here, so here's a link to the full quote - http://www.bigeye.com/attitude.htm).


In some 12-step literature I read somewhere, a quote stuck out in my head: Feelings aren't facts. In other words, what you feel right now isn't necessarily a true reflection of reality. Here is a quote from Courage to Change, which is a book of daily affirmations:

"In the past, many of us learned to make choices strictly on the basis of our feelings, as if feelings were facts. If we were frightened about taking a certain action, for example, it was best avoided. There was no middle ground and no room for more than one feeling at a time.

Part of recovery involves learning that feelings aren't facts. I am a complex, fascinating human being with a wide range of emotions, experiences, and thoughts. There is more to my identity than one feeling or another, one problem or another."

I wish I could flesh this out more, but my attention span isn't very long at the moment. I may return after thinking on this for a while...

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