You’re simply un-American if you’ve never heard the phrase “Attitude is everything”. Like a bad broken record, this three-word nuisance was pasted around my schools for as long as I can remember. Along with those cheesy motivators, I found irritation in it. In true adolescent form, I wanted to prove it wrong. I was so naïve.
….until I realized how true it actually was.
I can’t truly pinpoint when this too-true saying finally set into my stubborn, mule-like brain. I’m sure it had something to do with moving from GA to VA, horses, or both.
How often have you found yourself in a scenario that you entered in with a poor outlook: class, a social engagement, a task, assignment….. if you’re anything like I used to be… too often. How did it end for you?
Yet another life lesson learned in the saddle: attitude is absolutely everything. Horses are not like people. They aren’t deceived by fake smiles or false words, they read body language and are keen to hear the tone of your voice. Not the words per se, the tone. Try as hard as you might to conceal your attitude from them but it will be fruitless. They know when you don’t trust them, they sense the little idiosyncrasies that are derived from your uncertainty.
An excellent example is jumping. When approaching the fence, you have to look up, think about the final product and successful completion of the motion. Don’t look at the jump. Don’t look, don’t think, don’t imagine, don’t acknowledge the jump. My sister is the best trainer I’ve had, and I’m not just saying this, because she knows me so well. She has always told me to keep my head up: “keep your eyes out of the dirt or you’re going to end up there” she’d holler (over and over). She always said to pick a point past the fence, focus on it, and make your only desire to get to that point. Don’t worry about anything in between. Make that point, whatever it is, your new fixation. The body language will follow.
The fence isn’t going anywhere. It’s not changing. You’ve already sized it up, you know what you’re up against. Now, you are the one moving. Isn’t this a lot like obstacles in our lives? Focus on the motion. Riding as long as I have, it really didn’t hit me until very recently: the key to a successful (refusal-free) jump is impulsion, motivation, and focus on the motion (not the obstacle). Attitude. If I think I can, we can. If I get nervous, or concerned I will stop her by looking down at the fence, inadvertently giving her a “way out” with my hands, and/or lacking drive in my seat. I won’t mean to, but that tiny glance down at the 3’3” solid, unyielding barn jump will cause her to hesitate. She’ll think something is wrong. She won’t jump. Attitude means everything.
How many times have you come home to your spouse/roommate/cat/dog/hamster/dust bunnies and had a sour attitude? How quickly did it spread? It’s contagious. I know, back to the horse again, but when I’m in a sour mood and for whatever reason her fuzzy face and funny antics fail to cheer me up… she senses it. She starts acting up. She gets mad. She knows she doesn’t deserve to be treated with a bad attitude and she won’t take it. She politely (I wish) asks for a better mood. My furry feline is a little more forgiving, she just sits on me and purrs until I give in. Much easier.
Here’s an even more familiar experience for us forever (let’s be honest here) students: imagine the last time you had a teacher that didn’t care. How miserable was that class? Was the topic remotely interesting? His or her care-less attitude had a monumental impact on the way they delegated their instruction: it was boring. It was lifeless. No one cared. Attitude is contagious.
So with this I have promised myself that with the eternal joy that Christ has given me to be a positive person. I want to be infectious. I want to spread the smiles. I want to be a light in the dim gloom that can often invade peoples’ lives. It’s easy to spread the doom and gloom, and just as easy to spread the joy.
Often when I go for my morning runs on the Huckleberry trail, I make it my mission to give, and receive, as many smiles and “good mornings” as humanly possible. I don’t care if I’m pushing my run with my last dying desperate breath. I WILL say hello and they WILL smile back. Maybe this is an aggressive approach, but it makes my runs better. I’ve probably created a “that smiling happy girl” reputation for myself just like the visor walker dude. Please tell me other people have seen him- I have seen and waved at him so many times I feel like we’ve met before. I have no clue who he is.
Point being, you never know how much your smiley attitude will affect someone. It can be as simple as a friendly, genuine interest in how the Kroger cashier’s day is going (chances are, if there are couponers out there like me… not good) or taking time to go grab some overpriced coffee with a friend to see how they are doing. Even more simple, ask someone how their day is and listen. It doesn’t take much. People appreciate it.
If they don’t, they can go take their misery elsewhere because it’s not welcome here.