Attitude makes all the difference. As I shared in last week’s blog, traditional karate at our dojo teaches having a positive attitude, among other things. This attitude adjustment has been life-changing for me, even if all it has changed is my outlook. As Earl Nightingale says, “Our attitude toward life doesn’t affect the world and the people in it nearly as much as it affects us.”
Positive Attitude Portrait Before Karate
Before I started training in traditional Okinawan karate at our dojo, I didn’t really think or care about having a positive attitude. Where I grew up, this was not important. I don’t remember anyone putting forth the idea that I could choose my attitude. Or that maybe my life might be better if I chose to cultivate a brighter attitude or outlook.
I do remember hearing about the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. As well as the glass half empty or half full example. I had the notion that people were one or the other. Not that they could choose to change into a pattern of more positive or negative thoughts. When I look back now at my poor, sweet, young, serious self, I think my demeanor and attitude could be described with two words: cold fish.
Positive Attitude Portrait After Karate
In karate classes, my sensei talked about the importance of a positive attitude. He counseled kids in the importance of earning a green stripe for good attitude and good behavior. To define a good attitude for kids, he said something like, “It means if you’re having a bad day, you do your best to put a smile on your face and make it a good day.”
More importantly, he led with the example of keeping and cultivating an enthusiastic and positive attitude. This was also shown to me, over and over, by the sempai of the dojo and by several other black belt instructors.
In those early years of karate I also had other influences where I learned about the importance of having a positive attitude. That included Viktor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” and friends and acquaintances who were New Thought and Unity students. All of these practitioners, including my sensei, not only chose to have and promote a bright outlook, they also encouraged positive visualization. Through all of these positive influences, I learned to be an optimist.
More recently, I am studying masters of self improvement such as Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar, among others. With their coaching in their books and Youtube videos, I have learned more about the cultivation of a positive attitude. When I took Mr. Nightingale’s 30-day challenge, I learned how difficult it is to insist to yourself that your thoughts must be predominantly positive. A short time after that, I learned that it becomes easier with practice! You can train yourself to be an optimist and a happy person.
Granted, I do have the regular experience of being around positive, supportive people at the dojo a couple times a week. And I do apply the discipline and perseverance that is expected of a karate practitioner. And I have big goals that I work on daily. All of these things help support my positive attitude, and vice versa.
But with some work, time and energy put in the right direction, you, too, can train yourself to veer consistently toward a bright, happy outlook. Here’s a little video from Zig Ziglar to encourage you in that direction.