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How attitude diseases can ruin the good life

How attitude diseases can ruin the good life

My last newspaper column talked of Thomas Aquinas’s four idols  — money, power, pleasure and fame, and how they not only play a part in our everyday lives but also in wars and political unrest.

People seek idols with a false hope that they will bring joy or a feeling of satisfaction, but the closer someone gets to an idol the more unhappy and separated they feel from others, the divine and their own souls. 

Similar to idols is something called “attitude diseases.” I recently listened to a podcast episode featuring Jim Rohn’s famous talk on this concept. If you’re unfamiliar with Jim Rohn, he was a popular influential thinker and motivational speaker starting in the early 1960s and continuing over four decades. The episode is a recording of one of his speeches where he digs into the seven attitude diseases. The more we become aware of our own limiting behaviors and mindsets, the easier it will be to shed them and lean into the highest versions of ourselves. 

We all know that our physical bodies can develop diseases and illnesses. There’s a wealth of information, services, practitioners and treatments for ailments such as heart disease, various viruses, infections, diabetes and even certain types of cancer. What we don’t spend enough time thinking about or researching or discussing are the diseases of our attitudes, and it’s these types of diseases that lead to devastating personal, relational and professional outcomes.  

• The first attitude disease is indifference — shrugging the shoulders and having no opinion on any matter. It’s the guy who always says, “Who cares?” or “What’s the point in getting all worked up?” The problem is you can’t climb a mountain by drifting. As Rohn says, lukewarm is a sad way to live. Pick a direction and put everything you’ve got into everything you do. If it’s the wrong direction, you’ll know pretty immediately. If it’s the right direction, you’ll feel motivated to keep going. He says the next best thing to prosperity is adversity. We all do better for one of two reasons — inspiration or desperation. 

• The second attitude disease is indecision or mental paralysis. When you can never make up your mind it can be debilitating. Any decision is better than indecision. If it’s the wrong decision, you’ll find out quickly and pivot. Rohn suggests a life full of adventure because a life robust with adventure is full of many decisions. The ones that end up being wrong decisions will teach you a lot. He encourages us to see how many decisions we can get into instead of out of. 

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• Doubt is the third attitude disease. Doubt is like a plague that infiltrates your mind and ability to make decisions, and the worst kind of doubt is self-doubt. Rohn tells us to turn the coin over and become a believer. Believe in others, believe in hope, believe things will work out, and most importantly, believe in yourself. The understanding of self-worth is the beginning of progress.

• Worry is the next attitude disease. Worrying too much will drop you to your knees. It can even lead to physical illness. It’s such a pointless waste of time because usually we’re worried about a story conjured up in our own minds which almost always doesn’t happen. Rohn says to get the monkey off the back. Who needs it? It’s not an easy thing to give up but it’s possible with work and mindset shifts.  

• The fifth attitude disease is overcaution. This is called the timid approach to life, when you’re always thinking. “But, what if this happens?” or “What if that happens?” In actuality, it’s all risky. Being alive is risky so why not go into everything with confidence and gusto. Rohn points out that being cautious can sometimes backfire. He gives the example of investing. If we think it’s risky to invest in the stock market, think about what happens if we don’t invest at all. 

• Pessimism is the sixth attitude disease and is when we’re always looking on the bad side, the scary side, the negative side. A pessimist doesn’t look for virtue. A person always looks for faults and when they find them, they are delighted. Continually looking for why something won’t work is an exhausting, low frequency way to live and is not a path to success. 

• The final attitude disease is complaining — crying, whining, griping. All of that will destroy your future. Spend five minutes complaining and you’ve wasted five minutes of your life. Rohn says if we indulge in complaining long enough, our futures will be canceled. Additionally, stay away from complainers or politely ask them to stop complaining about everything. It will improve their lives as well.

So, how do you build a good life? How do you build anything? You get the right materials or ingredients. You follow a plan or recipe with an end goal in mind. You check in on your progress consistently. Finally, you work on healing your attitude diseases. It’s really that simple. Each day we stand guard at the door of our minds. We decide what goes into our mental factories. Be a good gatekeeper and build a life you love. 

(Susanna Shetley is a writer, editor and digital media specialist. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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