For the life journey to be effective as well as happy, three (3) attributes are often considered crucial: knowledge, skills and attitude. Knowledge is what we get from external sources through information crunching; skill is the ability to apply knowledge in solving real-life problems / issues. To be successful, both these are equally important as knowledge & skills supplement each other as tools / techniques.
But the most important aspect in life is attitude which is a psychological construct: our perception, value system and how we look at the world & life. We may be repository of knowledge, highly skilled but might not be successful or happy, even if we are prosperous in materialistic terms, if we do not have proper attitude. Hence it is often stated that to be successful in any endeavour of life, one needs to have the right attitude.
It is in this context that the concept of positive attitude becomes crucial particularly in the context of senior citizens. Positive attitude in this framework means an attitude that always sees the brighter aspects of life in any situation and in response to any stimulus. The genesis lies in the theory of stimulus and response. What it means is that given any stimulus (action or incident), an individual has a choice to make the response ( reaction to the action). How a person choses the response depends on his / her attitude.
The response of a person with a positive attitude to a given stimulus will be diametrically opposite to that of a person with a negative mindset. For example, a person is stuck up in a traffic jam on way to airport to catch a flight. There is huge jam and things are uncertain; there is a possibility of missing the flight. A person with a negative attitude will imagine all negative scenarios of missing the flight & the attendant losses and will try to curse himself / others and get highly tensed up. In the same scenario, a person with positive attitude will feel good that he / she can spend some more time with family if the flight is missed. Let’s see the change in vibration: one change in attitude turns a gloomy picture into a beautiful one.
Let’s take another example. In a family get together at a restaurant, there is long delay in serving. The host not with a positive attitude might get angry, even bang the desk and shout at the restaurant staff. The person with a positive attitude, on the other hand, in the same situation will relax and think there he / she has got more time to spend with family. Let’s see the difference in reaction.
That’s the strength of positive attitude.
Same stimulus but different response. A person with positive attitude will always chose to behave to be happy or not to worry or not to get excited in any adverse scenario. He / she will think rationally and try to behave rightly in wrong circumstances.
Effects of Positive Attitude:
Since a person with a positive attitude choses to remain optimistic in the face of an adverse stimulus, it has strong affirmative impact on his / her physique / mind. Some of the effects could be:
- Less anxious / angry
- More composed
- Slighter worries
- Higher physical energy
- Stable mind and improved logical thinking
Essentially this means a person with a positive attitude is more likely to have a better physical as well as mental strength. Life expectancy could also be more. Most importantly such a person is expected to have better inter-personal relationship and lead a happy life.
Ways One can Develop Positive Attitude in Elderly:
Often the question is asked if it is possible to develop positive attitude particularly at elder age. While difficult to do so at an advanced age, one can definitely try to inculcate some of the ways to imbibe attitude of positivity.
First, thoughts that come to our mind are random and many of them are negative. A person should try to shun or deflect the negative thoughts. This is the affirmative way to battling negativity which will automatically lead to positive thoughts.
Second, whenever a situation / problem arises by way of stimulus, an elderly person should try to analyse the same with an open mind without being intuitive. A rational analysis of the problem with a brighter solution in mind might allow the person to take decision with a positive attitude. If this is done on a consistent basis for all stimuli, there is a possibility of developing a positive attitude in the long-term.
Third, the elderly should keep away from friends / acquaintances who are always with negative ideas / thoughts and should be in company with people who are known to have positive attitude. It is often said that an individual is known by types of friends he or she has. Keeping in company with right people might help to develop right / positive attitude.
Fourth, keeping a health body / mind is an essential prerequisite for a good attitude. Therefore, regular exercise, yoga / meditation and a good diet will help to keep the body / mind agile and thereby, strong to develop a positive attitude.
Lastly, the mental resolve is extremely important. Consciously every day we should get up and resolve to look at issues / problems of the day with positive attitude and this type of tenacity might help us to develop a positive attitude.
To lead a happy life, it is extremely important to have a positive attitude. Otherwise, we will go on looking at negative sides of everything and cursing our lives. Let’s try to develop a strong determination to imbibe positive attitude so that we can always see the brighter side even in darkest of clouds. That can alone make our life blissful!!
Dr A K Sen Gupta is the Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). This article has been published in Free Press Journal (FPJ) on 11th September, 2021, where he is a regular contributor. Dr Sen Gupta was the Director of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai and Director & Mentor at SIES College of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai. He was a World Bank Consultant and instrumental in setting up National Banking College in Ghana, Africa and Professor at National Institute of Bank Management, Pune.