On many occasions I have asked people what they believe is the most important factor in moving towards success, reaching goals, and accomplishments.  I have received many answers like, “luck…money…training…knowing the right people…and even God.” Those are all great answers, but in my experience there is one thing that is commonly found in the men and women who achieve much and that is the state of their “attitude.”

Thomas Jefferson noted:

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

I agree with Jefferson. A persons attitude greatly affects his beliefs, choices, and the way he/she see themselves and the world. I have often said, “Give me a person with a positive attitude and a strong purpose and passion and I can give them the tools to do anything…but if you give me a person who has all the education and tools but lacks passion, purpose and a positive attitude, there is not much I can do.”

Bad attitudes sink teams…Good attitudes encourage teams…
Bad attitudes destroy hope…Good attitudes believe in something bigger…
Bad attitudes never see the potential…Good attitudes see the invisible…
Bad attitudes major in sarcasm…Good attitudes major in faith…
Bad attitudes keep people stuck…Good attitudes free people from limitations…

One of the problems facing us today is how our culture honors, elevates and seems to worship sarcasm and the negative. Most of the sitcoms and young adult shows center around curmudgeonly characters who view all things from a negative lens…merely watch the plethora of reality Tv options and you will experience a steady diet of self centered negativity. This is the primary programming language infusing the current and next generation, and that is worrisome.

If you struggle with the “gift” of sarcasm, or a negative filter…there are some things you can begin doing to reclaim the way you think.

1. Infuse your mind with the positive: This is so critical. Most of the data that people fill their minds with is negative. The news, TV shows, etc. Choosing to fill our minds and souls with good stuff is crucial. Read inspiring stories, faith stories, positive and spiritual quotes. Choose to watch media that is positive and limit the negative media assaults. Pray, meditate, ruminate, read sacred Scripture and books that elevate your soul. In short, become aware of the data that you are feeding your mind and soul with. You will become like the data you fuel yourself with.

2. Choose to be positive: This is where self-awareness is necessary. Most people are not very self aware of their emotions, attitudes or thoughts. Slowing down enough by practicing some regular times of solitude and silence will greatly help you become more self aware. As you become self aware, you will find that you have the option to make a choice about what you are thinking. When I find my mind in a negative or pessimistic state, I always stop and ask God to help me release those thoughts to Him as well as reinfuse my thoughts with positive ones that flow from who He is. In my mind and heart I say, “I choose to think positive God-thoughts.” This helps me identify the negative thought patterns and acknowledge that I don’t want them in my mind.

3. Practice Gratitude daily: This is so powerful! If you don’t have a cheap spiral notebook go out and get one today! It will be the best .79 cents you have ever spent. Once you have it, find a spot in your day to stop and simply write even one thing that you are grateful for. Even the fact that you have a notebook and a pen and are able to write is something to be thankful for!  The more you invest in looking for the things to be grateful for and writing them down, the more you will experience a growing sense of thankfulness for life.

4. Limit the time you spend with negative people: This one is a bit harder because some of the negative people in your life are probably family and friends. If that is the case for you, note how much time you spend with those who are negative, and then invest more time to be around people who have a positive attitude and will expand your soul. The adage that you become like the people you hang out with is true. So pay attention to the thoughts, beliefs and things people say. As you become aware of the attitudes of the people around you, the better you will be able to make decisions about the time you spend with them.

5.  Choose to smile: This might seem trivial but it really isn’t. Right now, right where you are at, stop….take a deep breath in and out and then plant a big ol’ smile on your face! Come on just do it…can you feel how it begins to change how you feel and see things…it is really hard to be mad, angry, bitter or negative when you are sporting a big smile. Throughout your day as you practice self-awareness, make the choice to smile big…it will flood your soul with better feelings and thoughts which will help with your attitude.

Here are some great quotes on attitude to start reprogramming your thought life with!

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.  ~Maya Angelou

When you pray for anyone you tend to modify your personal attitude toward him.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  ~Viktor E. Frankl

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  ~Charles R. Swindoll

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.  ~Zig Ziglar

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.  ~Khalil Gibran

Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.  ~William James

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.  ~Victor Hugo

The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  ~Charles R. Swindoll

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.  ~Voltaire

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly.  You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.  ~Roald Dahl

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.  ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5


  1. Monty, Thank you for posting on a very important topic. It is easy (and fun) to be sarcastic. Sarcasm also detracts from relationship, which the key to personal a professional success. Great suggestions and great quotes.

    1. I agree with you lyn…I have witnessed a sarcastic spirit kill teams…while there is a sense of “funny” there is a bigger sense of undercutting…

  2. I have always loved that quote by Thomas Jefferson. It is an amazaing thing how much power we have to change the trajectory of our lives by our attitude!

    Your suggestions are great – I really connected with the ‘limiting time with negative people’ one. It’s taken me a very long time to recognize the impact that has and how draining it is. (I also realized I have been that negative person too many times myself.)

    1. ya Denise, that really is important. There are people who need us to be a positive influence, but we need to be careful that we are not always in a role where we are the “positive” one infusing life into those who need it…soon, the well dissipates. To refuel, you need to engage with like-minded people who will also infuse you 🙂

  3. Awesome post, Monty! I completely agree that attitude more than any other factor will determine the course of one’s life. I know that even in the worst of circumstances I am blessed far beyond what I deserve. For that reason, I can be grateful in all circumstances. And I know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, so I can be hopeful in all circumstances.

    1. thanks paul! your mindset definitely helps you see beyond your circumstances towards a hopeful future. Then, you can see purpose behind even seemingly hard life events…it doesn’t change the events, but it does change the way we see the events and whether or not they become definers….

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