Having the right attitude can make life more harmonious and far less stressful. It has taken me years to develop patience, an even temperament and an optimistic outlook – and the reality is: it's an ongoing process.
Making attitude a habit
Whether you naturally have a good attitude or not, it takes conscious and ongoing effort to excel in it. And the right attitude can make a profound difference in life – including in the area of athletic talent. Take Nick Kyrgios, for example. It's obvious he has the talent to win grand slam championships, but with his current attitude, it's unlikely. Roger Federer is another good example: he was impetuous and immature in his younger days but has made major changes to his attitude that have resulted in phenomenal achievement – his 19 grand slam titles attest both his talent and his attitude.
I continue to feel impatience, anger and, at times, pessimism, but I battle daily to overcome these emotions. The more I do it, the easier it becomes – but it is never easy. Here's an everyday example: when I'm caught in a traffic jam I have no control over, I then think of reasons why I should be patient. There could be an accident up ahead, if I try to rush I could get into an accident myself, and in the grand scheme of things it's okay if I reach my destination a little later than intended. Instead of getting worked up, I sit back and enjoy singing along to music in my car, where I can spare the world my angelic voice.
Anger is an interesting emotion and there's a fine balance to dealing with it, as it can spur you on to address unresolved problems or it can lead to destruction. I haven't shown anger in many years, but that doesn't mean I don't feel its burning intensity. I learned many years ago that uncontrolled anger can prevent me from achieving my goals, and eventually become destructive.
As the buddhist saying goes, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
Focusing on the positive
As human beings, we seem to have a profound ability to focus on the negative rather than on the many positives in life.
Nowadays, when I find myself thinking negative thoughts, I start listing all the positives in my life. And when required, I write down a column of negatives and a column of positives, and the column of positives is always far longer than that of the negatives. It's a simple exercise that keep things in perspective, and reminds me to focus on the joy and possibilities in life.
It's important to mention that a negative mindset is different to depression, which is a disease of the mind that requires the right treatment. On a personal note, I have had great success with journey therapy and have recommended many people to my wonderful therapist, Sharon Turton (sharonturton.com).
Finding inspiration in those around you
I am constantly inspired by our diminutive and dynamic yoga teacher Martine Allars. She continues to face extremely tough health challenges, yet those who know her will testify to her sparkling, cheerful personality. I have never heard Martine complain. She is always compassionate, understanding and selfless; a wonderful person to learn from and be inspired by. If you join her classes, you'll see why she is such a popular yoga teacher.
It's up to you to see the joy and beauty in life. Develop an optimistic mindset and you'll set yourself on a far more joyful path, one where you'll be better able to deal with challenges that come your way.