In my experiences in working with a wide variety of people in a number of physical and mental endeavors, what has made the most difference in progress in each case has been the person’s attitude. This is not because there is some magical system where all a person needs for success is a ‘positive attitude’. It is because without a proper attitude, success is difficult to achieve. Most success is created from a whole lot of hard work and persistence, but what gives a person the ability to work hard and persist is usually the proper attitude.
We might want to resist in calling this quality of mind ‘positive’ because that conjures up the idea of ‘happiness’, ‘sunshine’, ‘rainbows’ and, well you get the picture. No, the proper attitude is a belief that success is possible. A proper attitude rejects the notion that actions are futile, however it does not necessarily mean that a person is going to be happy.
I once taught yoga to a man who was very angry. He was recovering from a devastating injury and he was angry and bitter. Not only was this man unhappy, but about the best emotional quality he could seem to muster was quiet rage. He was definitely not a poster child for happy thoughts. He did however possess a proper attitude about achieving his physical objectives. He believed he could achieve an improvement to his physical condition and he applied himself to his physical tasks so diligently that his recovery time was significantly reduced from the average. He achieved more in six months time than most people in his condition would achieve in two years.
In another situation, I worked with an individual who although not very injured was having a very difficult time in her recovery. She spent most of her time with me quoting a laundry list of complaints about her current physical issues and countered every suggestion of recuperative exercise with a reason why it would not work for her. In the span of a month she was making absolutely no progress whatsoever towards her stated goal of recovery. Then something wonderful happened. She changed her attitude. She stopped talking about what she could not do, she stopped expressing doubts about what recuperative exercise could do for her and she began applying herself to her exercises. In one week’s time she made more progress towards her goals than in the month before and she improved her physical condition greatly.
Improvement in our physical condition takes persistence and the ability to be persistent comes from believing that our hard work will be rewarded. The best attitude is one that persists even when there is little to no tangible evidence of improvement. First we must believe we can be successful, then we will take the steps towards success.
I hope within each of us lives a belief that we can improve ourselves. If we believe we can succeed, then we posses the proper attitude towards realizing our goals.