Beware of Your Attitude

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A beneficial attitude is inclusive as it seeks to benefit you and others. An injurious attitude, on the other hand, intends to cause injury to you and others.

By Aqeel A. Ansari

We all want success, no one likes failure. Your attitude defines how you view life, which in turn defines how you view success or failure. We are naturally endowed with some talent. Of course, you have to discover and realize the potential talent. Talent is important, but it is not enough to guarantee success. Put talent to work with right attitude and you guarantee success. Moreover, the right attitude helps you build relationships, any and all. We all need help to succeed in life. This is why we have families and communities to support individuals. No man is an island; he cannot stand alone. People will like you and be willing to cooperate with you if you have the right attitude. For example, companies do hire people with talent but they prefer talented employees with right attitudes. In short, your attitude sets right your relationships and you get what you want out of life.
If right attitude is what you want, you must guard against wrong attitude. People with wrong attitudes have difficulty building relationships. They prefer competition to cooperation. They experience resentment and dissension. Fault-finding or putting down people pleases them. You cannot miss attitudes of individuals characterized by self-importance, selfishness, greed or arrogance. Do we find successful people with wrong attitudes? Your answer depends on how you view success. Perhaps it is possible for people to hide wrong attitudes. The truth is that you cannot hide your attitude, right or wrong, for long. You may try to mask your attitude and fool people but the face you wear reveals the secret. You do not have to say a word; your gesture, behavior or manner shows your attitude. Once you open your mouth to say something or engage in some act, you announce your attitude loud and clear. People are ready to make fun of inconsistent behaviour of men or women especially the elites who do not mean or do what they say.
Now that you understand the significance of attitude, it is important to know how attitudes are formed. Psychologists explain that we begin to form our attitude from early childhood. We observe our parents and siblings; we make mental notes of role play and behaviour. The words they speak to us and how they speak leave lasting impressions. The neighbours’ children we play with, influence our attitude. What we read and learn in schools and colleges as well as our interaction with teachers and classmates build our self-image. Self-image is what our attitudes are all about. It mirrors how we think of ourselves. Self-image we build also develops our personality. This explains why every individual has an unique personality. While self-image describes how we think of ourselves, it also determines how others think of us.
As we grow to be adults, we create new factors that influence our attitude. These factors generally include job, marriage and family. Reading books, meeting people and traveling continue to create new factors that influence our attitude. Equally important in shaping attitude is history. It helps us to know and learn from life experiences and response to challenges of past generations. It is reasonable to state that your attitude is never complete; it is always under construction. Therefore, it is never too late to modify or change your attitude towards life and hence towards success or failure.
True, how you see yourself is how others see you. It is equally true that how you see yourself also determines how you view others. Building self-image gives you your perspective, which is a mental picture of the relative importance of things including the universe, environment and ecology of earth, and humanity. Your perspective reflects your attitude towards what is good or what is evil, what is right or what is wrong, what is true or what is false. It is reasonable to state that right attitude builds coherent perspectives. We all harbour prejudices of one sort or another. The idea is to get rid of prejudices gradually, but surely. Expand your mental capacity to think right and feel right.
We have labeled attitude as right or wrong attitude. You may label it positive or negative attitude. I prefer the label beneficial or injurious attitude. A beneficial attitude is inclusive as it seeks to benefit you and others, by definition. An injurious attitude, on the other hand, intends to cause injury to you and others. People say, “What’s in a label?” I say, “It’s all in the label”. Labeling attitude as beneficial or injurious naturally prompts you to think right and feel right. Shaping a beneficial attitude inspires you to build a self-image and develop a personality that prefers what is good, right and true.
Keep great thoughts of the Qur’an in your heart and mind, they benefit you as much as they benefit others regardless of gender, race, religion, language and geography. It elevates your striving and enables you to deal justly even with those who live with injurious attitudes.
(The writer is based in Austin (Texas),and is an alumni of Delhi School of Economics and Wharton School. He is the author of The Idea of Equality. He can be reached at [email protected]).