At the Heart of Attitude

Does it ever seem like forces are working against you with the sole purpose of making life difficult?

Your attitude might have something to do with that. Actually, it probably has a lot to do with it. Your attitude shows in just about everything you do—the way you carry yourself, the way you talk, the people you associate with, the decisions you make. Sometimes you can sense people’s attitudes just by looking at them. The way they walk or even the way they’re sitting can give off clues to how they’re feeling.

Of course, attitudes change constantly. This is especially true with teenagers. It’s important for them to understand what determines their attitudes and, in turn, how their attitudes affect their actions. This knowledge can greatly influence simple reactions and even important decisions your teen will make.

Most of the time, you base what you do on how you feel about a certain situation. For example, your teen might be excited about an upcoming game or competition, so she focuses more and puts in extra hours of practice to give her the best chance of winning.

The opposite is also true. If a big test is coming up in a subject that your teen doesn’t perform well in, she’s more likely to put off studying for it. Her negative attitude toward the test might result in a bad grade. If she has a better attitude about the test, she likely will score better.

Of course, it’s not easy to control your attitude. It’s hard to make yourself feel happy when you’re not. So if your attitude, which is difficult to control, can determine your actions, what determines your attitude? What’s at the source of it? It’s your philosophy or, rather, how you see yourself and the world around you.

Help your teen understand what’s at the heart of the way she feels and believes. This is key to achieving what she wants out of her life. Her philosophy can be generally positive or negative, resulting in either a positive or negative attitude. How she views her experiences and situations will determine how she reacts to them.

In SUCCESS for Teens®, an 18-year-old named Sage tells how a difficult situation tried to pull him away from his philosophy.

“When I was 16, it turned out that my friends were smoking weed, and I thought they were really stupid,” he says. “Then, as usual, I started questioning myself—I wondered if they were having a lot of fun. So I took a little puff, and it was no fun at all. In fact, it hurt my lungs. I thought it was stupid, gave it a little try, confirmed that it was stupid and never did it again.”

When confronted with a difficult choice, Sage stuck with his philosophy and did what he thought was best. His positive philosophy resulted in a positive attitude, which resulted in a positive action. If Sage had a negative philosophy, he likely would have made a bad choice.

Make sure your teen knows that the ripple effect of philosophy, attitude and action can be positive or negative. Help her develop a positive philosophy and attitude so that no matter what circumstances arise, she can make the best choice and take the best course of action.

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