Two psychiatrists worked in the same building. Each morning they rode the same elevator, one getting off on the 5th floor and the other getting off at the 9th. Every morning just as the first psychiatrist was about to get off the elevator, he would turn and spit in the face of the second psychiatrist. The second man would then pull out a handkerchief and wipe off his face as if nothing was wrong. It was in the days when there was an elevator operator, and the young man daily watched this episode. Finally, one day he could stand it no longer. After the first psychiatrist got off, he turned to the second and said, “Why does he do that?” “I don’t know,” said the second, “that’s his problem, not mine.”
So often what happens to you is not nearly as important as how you react to it. What happens in you. You and I can choose our attitude when responding to events that take place in our life.
What makes the difference between someone who has everything against them and yet conquers it to have a great life, and someone raised with every material blessing yet does nothing and is miserable? Attitude. The single most significant decision you can make on a day-to-day basis is your choice of attitude. Some people complain that their circumstances or the people around them have given them a bad attitude. No one gives you a poor attitude, you choose it. You are responsible for your attitudes. How you think determines how you respond to others.
Too many people believe that happiness and the good life depend on the right conditions. When things are going great, they are happy. When things aren’t going great, they are miserable.
Viktor Frankl was a prisoner of war in WW2 and was treated poorly. He came to an amazing realization as he sat in the Nazi prison camp and considered all he had lost: “The one thing you cannot take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
Another prisoner, the Apostle Paul, wrote this, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12,13).
Paul was not going to allow circumstances to dictate his attitude. He also recognized his need for help. Looking to Christ he found the strength to get through the challenges he faced. He knew that his real contentment lay in knowing Christ and his relationship with him.
So, if you are feeling a little rough today, you can ask Jesus for his help in adjusting your attitude. You don’t have to keep that lousy disposition; you can be set free. Just look for help in the right place.