Attitude & Motivation

We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.
― Charles R. Swindoll

Attitude.  Sometimes someone is GIVING me attitude.  Other times, their positive outlook helps to change my attitude for the better.  Is the tank half full?  Half empty?

Does the load to be borne feel overwhelming?

Or is it a sign of the adventure to be had ahead?

I distinctly remember conversations with my Mom, probably starting in middle school, about how her day’s outlook and emotions could be drastically altered when I came home from school.  I held in my frustrations and anger and then laid into her upon arrival at home, unable to keep it in any longer.  She and my Dad were always so dang calm.  It drove me batty.  I wanted them to engage in the emotion with me.  I physically now, 20-25 years later, remember the feeling of frustration that filled me knowing that THEY weren’t getting frustrated right alongside me.

Now, having taken the Love and Logic parenting course, Matt and I have been learning a lot about ourselves and how we can best approach conflict with our kids.  How to go “brain dead” and use empathetic statements to care for and sympathize, but also de-escalate a situation.  Matt posted a bit about this “logic-based” approach recently and I believe his take and explanation explains so well why this works, why it actually motivates.

I love Chuck Swindoll’s quote above.  Making the choice.  Knowing that only WE can be responsible for our own attitude.

Is it going to be a “I AM COVERED IN CHALK AND I’M GOING TO BE ANNOYED AT BEING DIRTY” day or….”CREATIVITY IS FUN AND MESSY AND LET’S DIG IN!” moment??  Our reaction to circumstance, not the circumstance itself, often drives our outward and inward feelings.

As a parent of at least one strong willed boy, potentially another coming up in the ranks, how do we help shape our children’s reactions and thus their attitudes?  How do we motivate them to jump into circumstances and situations with joy?  Is modelling it enough?  Does that motivate?  I find myself really brain dead after a long day with the kids.  So much so that it is hard to CHOOSE my attitude with a clear plan in mind.  My motivation is gone.  It’s just hard to choose joy.  To choose calm and empathy.  But I can’t blame the kids or circumstance.  Painfully, with a lot of opportunities to practice that parenting provides, I’m learning that it really is up to me.  I have to turn the mirror back and reflect on myself.

How do we motivate—ourselves, not to mention others?  Motivation can come due to many precursors….fear, monetary reinforcement, positive encouragement.  But what truly motivates for the long haul?  Here are some thoughts on the topic via a talk by Dan Pink.  It is directed more at adults, but some things are universal.  The fact that true motivation is being linked to autonomy, mastery and pupose makes sense, despite the age.

When I think about the ways Christ motivated others to follow him, he didn’t force or coerce.  He also didn’t try to guilt folks into being disciples or create a fear-filled prophecy.  It wasn’t about complying with the rules, but abiding.  It was a day-in, day-out relational, on the ground, working alongside relationship.

Christ didn’t mess around, he was purposeful and his call wasn’t an easy one.  Despite all this, people were motivated to follow.  Lives and attitudes were changed.  Maybe, as Dan Pink suggested, there was a transcendent purpose?  A bigger motivation than just fishing for fishing sake.  Or collecting money for tax’s sake.  Or keeping track of the sheep, just because….nope.  It was and is about something more.  A deeper motivation.  A bigger purpose.  A more consistent attitude.  One of deep, abiding, never-ending love.

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

~John 10:  1-18

One thought on “Attitude & Motivation

  1. Such great words and thoughts. I needed to hear some of it as I have a 9 year old, going on 16 year old in my house. 🙂 Choosing to disengage from the drama and the emotional tug-o-war is a daily choice. Hard, but I try!

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