Let’s have a look at the definition of the word Attitude. This definition is from a psychology textbook:

“An attitude can be defined a learned predisposition to believe in a consistent evaluation manner towards a person, group of people, or group of objects.”

That is, we all understand that an attitude implies a favourable or unfavourable evaluation which is likely to affect one’s response to the person or object concerned.

Examples spring to mind: This person is friendly and has a good attitude towards the other people in the group. We can also describe an attitude as the way you think and feel about someone or something. This feeling, or way of thinking, affects a person’s behaviour towards others and may even be regarded as rude or unfriendly.

Has anyone seen the film, Darkest Hour (2017: Perfect World Pictures/Working Title Films)? This film is an excellent portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill’s impact on convincing the politicians and military leaders of Britain at the time of the Second World War in changing their defeatist view of ending the conflict by negotiation and risking a ruthless enemy takeover of Britain, or fighting on to eventual victory in 1945. Churchill’s attitude was totally convincing, which was just as well under those terrible circumstances.

Let’s look at another example of group attitudes, closer to home for most of us, and their impact on subsequent behaviour. Many years ago, I was giving a series of talks to a group of people who had been unemployed for a very long time. These talks were arranged to take place once a week over several weeks commencing at 9am on any given Monday. On the very first day, a young woman wheeled in a pram with her baby. She was very upset. She really wanted to get a job but her parents lived in the country, her boyfriend and father of the child, had up and left her, and there was no one else to look after the baby until a friend was willing but only in the afternoons.

These facts were put to the group who at first were quite hostile towards the girl. One thing was common to all members of this group – they had all been compulsorily directed to attend this class by Centrelink (the Australian federal government social welfare service). After the rest of the group came to know the problems that the girl was facing in attending morning classes, all agreed that they would happily change the start-time to the afternoon. This was a great success and everyone completed the course.

But back to the psychology textbook!

Where do our attitudes come from? From many areas, of course. Parental influences come in as the child gets older. During the period from 10 to 20 years old, most of a person’s basic attitudes take shape – that is after those attitudes influenced by our experiences at work, peer pressures, and information from our education and, particularly these days, from the media.

An attitude is not a gift in concrete. It can be changed quite often and used to align yourself with whatever problems present themselves. Often, we may see things from a different point of view. Different from both the individual and the listener. However, be careful of your attitudes, and use them as a means of growth, not only for yourselves but in your relationship towards others.

I would like to end with a quote from an American clergyman, educator, and famous Christian author, Charles Swindall:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can is to play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed, or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let these little things upset you. – Joel Osteen.