This morning, I had a really interesting experience that reminds me so much of myself sometimes. My son, Michael is three years old. Like any normal three year old, he had moments where he is irrational, fussy, or whinny. We work on these things all the time, but parenting is hard and sometimes it is not as perfect as it looks on Instagram.
However, this morning Michael really wanted his mom to hold him. He was crying and pouting because she could not hold him. (In all fairness, my wife was in the shower and could not hold him.) I tried to distract him; I offered him breakfast, to help me make coffee (which he likes to do), and to watch a show. Nothing was working.
I then said, “Michael, you have 2 options. You can choose to sit here crying and sad but mommy cannot hold you as she is in the shower. Or you can choose to come with daddy to make breakfast and be happy.”
He then looked up at me with a sad face and said, “Stay here and be sad…”
To be honest, I was a bit frustrated at this point. I was thinking, why would he want to sit here and be sad when there was a much more fun option for him – he would just need to decide to get up and move on to something more fun like making breakfast or watching a show on Disney Junior. I left the room and he sat there for a while, choosing to be sad.
I began to think about all that I have been going through in transition of life. I realized that I have days where I am making the choice to ‘stay here and be sad.’ Although my choice does not manifest itself by me sitting and crying like my three year, I do have days where I choose to look at the challenges of transition more than the joys of the opportunity.
I have had days that are hard; we all have. The hard days are not days where I am not excited about the future, but days in which the future seems so far away. As I wait and learn, I have the opportunity to make the decision to have a good attitude or I can be blah. I have the choice to look at the joys of life and not the challenges of it.
One thing that has become more apparent to me in the past months than ever before is that one of the only things that we can truly control in our life is our attitude. Just like Michael was given a choice to go be happy and help daddy or stay sad, we have a choice everyday to go be happy or be sad. We have the chance to choose joy over strife. We have the chance to choose optimism over pessimism. We can choose to be positive as opposed to being cynical.
There are days that I choose to not have the attitude that I need, and I know it affects everything I do. Just yesterday, I was in the car with Angela talking about how hard the day was. It was a day that seemed like eternity, where I left thinking, “how did today help me or help anyone…” But when I was in the car, I realized that my attitude and outlook on the day was the decider that made everything look dim. If I choose joy, if I choose happiness, if I choose excitement, then I win and those around me win.
I am not naïve; I know that some days it is hard, but I have come to truly believe that you and I are the only ones who can control our attitudes. The real catch is that I choose my attitude, but my attitude affects everyone I come in contact with and they have no choice on my attitude. Do not miss the opportunity to make a positive impact in someone else’s life because you chose to have a bad attitude.
It is a conscious choice, day-after-day, to wake up with a joy-filled attitude for the day – but there is too much at stake not to do so.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Question: What do you do to help you choose to have a joy-filled attitude? (Answer in the comment section below)