Guest Post: Actions/Attitude

I'd like to share with you something that has changed my life for the better. Movies. I think we all can agree that movie watching trumps doing anything productive. If it hadn’t been for movies, I’m not sure I would have made it through high school. Being able to forget about that 10 page essay or speech that I hadn't started working on and was due the next day sure made me feel like less of a failure.

During my avid movie-watching-while-ignoring-my-homework/life sessions I’ve memorized a lot of quotes from these movies, mostly pointless, but I’ve learned a lot of lessons. I’d like to share some of my musings on life, sparked by movies.

The greatest pirate who never lived, Captain Jack Sparrow said, “The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem.” Now taking advice from a fictional, constantly drunk pirate, doesn’t sound like a good idea. But I believe there is truth to that statement. Sure the actual problem is important, but our attitude is more important.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines attitude as a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person's behavior. It’s the part of us that instead of questioning why something happened, determines how we respond. Most of our actions depend on how we feel in the moment, and our own character. However, I believe that our actions are really a reaction. We react to what happens to us. Very rarely do we act unprovoked by something/someone else. When things don’t go according to plan, we get frustrated or angry, which could lead to our reaction of lashing out at who is to blame.

These reactions define us, and are often dependent on our attitude. I’ve heard that there are three types of people in the world: pessimists, optimists and leaders. And to seguay off and quote comedian Robert Benchley, “There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't." Three types of people: pessimists, optimists, and leaders.

You may be asking why is the last one not realists? Well there really is no such thing as a realist. We all live in reality, so we must all face it, like it or not. Sticking with the pirate theme, let me describe each type of person to you. A pessimist complains about the wind; an optimist expects the wind to change; and a leader adjusts the sails. These aren’t the only 3 attitudes there are, but they encompass most, if not all of them, in some way or another. I’m not sure which type of person I am.

I try not to see the worst in things, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, lest I be let down. And I don’t like to step out of my comfort zone to make the most of a situation. Charles Swindoll once said “I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.” I think he’s right.

I know that I don’t always react the way I should. One of my summer jobs was to supervise 10 or so rowdy junior high kids. I was to make sure they cleaned the kitchen at the camp I worked at, amongst other things. On one day in particular, I remember being so frustrated with them because they were taking so long to do simple things like sweep the floor or wipe down tables. I lost it.

I wanted them to be done so I could go do my own thing (probably to take a nap or something). So I lectured them about how it was their job to clean quickly and thoroughly because I didn’t want to babysit them. My attitude was focused on me and my circumstances instead of the big picture. I was more worried about getting a break from supervising them then I was trying to make sure these kids had a good time volunteering.

I remember years ago complaining to my dad “Why do I have to clean my room?” to which he said, “You don’t have to, you get to.” And I’ve never looked at things I do the same way. I didn’t have to clean my room. I got to. I could be in a third world country living in a one roomed house with who knows how many other people. But I’m not. I get to clean my room as a privilege of having my own room. I didn’t have to supervise or help those kids clean. I had the opportunity to work alongside those kids.

I think that if we respond to our problems in a proactive way, instead of complaining or hoping that it will all work out, we will no longer become distressed when things go wrong. Instead of becoming frustrated with those kids and yelling at them, I should have grabbed a broom and helped out. The next time they cleaned the kitchen I was helping too.

The right attitude and a little perspective can change everything.Having the right attitude is only half the struggle. I saw the opportunity to help those kids clean, but I didn’t have to take it. How you act during those times of opportunity is even more important.

As a child, my favorite movies were the Star Wars Saga. I’ll spare you the details but the main villain, Darth Vader, was hated and feared because of all the horrible things he did. If I’ve learned anything about life from that galaxy far far away, it’s this: our actions define our legacy. What do those 5 words mean?

I believe that those words can haunt some and change others. In the spur of the moment, we tend not to think about the repercussions our actions can lead to. Whether it’s how we respond to everyday hassles, or how we behave when no one is watching. If you believe stealing is wrong, but steal anyways, you will forever be remembered as a thief.

Gravestones portray this exact phenomenon. Phrases found on those slabs of marble often state exactly what the person lying below is remembered for. The inscriptions don’t read “John thought being a good father was an admirable trait”. Instead they say “He was a good father.” His actions of being kind to his children led to his legacy of being known as a good father.

You can believe whatever you want, but if you don't act accordingly, you are both liar and a hypocrite. To quote Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University, the main jock during the Scare Games says this “Enjoy the attention while it lasts, boys. After you lose, no one will remember you.” To which Mike Wazowski replies, “Maybe. But when you lose, no one will let you forget it.” The world defines us by our shortcomings and failures.

We may dream of changing the world, but as soon as what we stand for requires action, we tend to step down. If we fail to act, we accomplish nothing. We won’t have a legacy.

As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Our actions define our legacy. I’ve tried to apply these two things to my life as best as I can. There is no way to measure if these lessons have made me a better person, but having the right attitude and responding accordingly has made some situations turn out better than I could have ever thought possible.

Then again I may have this all wrong.


#Adventures #ClearMinds #Actions #WiseWords