On a Sunny Monday Morning

            So, I’m driving home with my Ollie at my side and the discussion on NPR is on a topic not often addressed publicly by people – the question of one’s own death!  I’m not thinking about my death, but as I continued to listen I observed that there were many questions arising from the hostess, from the guest and from the callers about the relationship between one’s attitudes (how someone thinks and feels) and one’s behavior (what one does)!  So, I thought I’d use this space to raise a couple of questions and enter into a discussion with each of you.

            Does ‘How We Feel?’ influence how we behave, or does “How We Behave’ influence how we feel?  It’s kind of a chicken/egg question isn’t it?  But, maybe there’s more to this than just deciding which comes first!

            First of all:  What would change in our lives if we could always – ALWAYS – look for the positive – the best of things – the best of others?  You’ve read of the older woman who was being moved from her home to the rest facility, and with every statement people made to have her accept the move, she responded with some positive statement:  “You’ll enjoy the people there.”  To which she responded, “They’ll be perfect for me!”  “You’ll enjoy the colors in the room.”  She said, “Those colors are just what I wanted!”  “You’ll like the view out of your window.” And she jumped right in with, “It will be just right!”  When all who were moving her asked how she could be so sure about things she had not seen, she told them that when she makes up her mind to enjoy something, she always does enjoy those things – How She Felt Influenced Her Behavior!  And, I’m going to place my bet on her continuing to enjoy life in the rest facility just as she had enjoyed her life at ‘home’!  We could all relate a story of someone we’ve known whose attitudes were always negative, and sure enough, most of those prophesies become a reality and their lives are lived in misery – Misery of their own making???

            Secondly: On the other hand, there are many who believe that if we act as if things are going well and will turn out for the best, these behaviors might dictate our attitudes.  When we laugh boisterously and often, that laughter might bring about a change in our feelings – maybe that’s the root of the statement, “Laughter is good medicine!” originated.  Seeking out people with uplifting attitudes and working side by side with them might have a positive effect on those who might otherwise be negative. Performing act of volunteerism, of giving to others, of being a ‘present’ friend in times of potential hurt in others might all contribute to our having more joyous, mote pleasant feelings about the rest of the day.  Attending a meeting of people dedicated to creating a more positive world might infect each of us with positive feelings!  For many, attending an uplifting religious meeting can lift one’s spirits above the mundane, not-too-pleasant activities of our everyday world.  Get together with a group of people – family, friends, audiences – and join in a ‘Sing-a-long’ might influence how you feel for a long time.  Years ago, one night a week, our television would bring us “Sing Along With Mitch”, and we’d watch this vibrant man leading the singing in front of a screen with the words and a bouncing ball – it was a television ‘sing along’ program.  I observed that people invariably seemed to be less troubled, more peaceful, serene, and joyous after one of those shows

       So, what do you think?  Can we change our behaviors by changing our attitudes?  Can we change our attitudes by changing our behaviors?  Do you want to come down on a non-committal position of ‘Both’?  Let’s chat!! 


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