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Why Are Attitudes Important and How to Change Them

daisy_wFirst off, a definition is in order. Attitude refers to the tendency to act and react in either a positive or negative manner to a given object, idea, event and person. Said action and reaction can be very specific (i.e., chocolates, color, mother) or very general (i.e., change, technology).

Our attitudes come from the interplay of complex forces that enter our lives. You attitude will come from social interactions with those inside and outside your social-economic circle, from familial interactions with family members of all ages, from the tri-media and the Internet, and many others. With that said, the adage about attitude being everything contains more than a grain of truth in it. After all, we are almost always judged by the attitude we manifest in our daily lives, from the way we walk to the way we talk!

Why Attitude Is Important

Attitude is very important in many respects and in many aspects of our lives, from the personal to the professional areas and from the social to the familial relationships. Again, the way we think and act are determined by our attitudes and the way we exhibit our attitudes paves the way to how we are judged by those around us. In short, our attitudes dictate our actions and decisions in life. So, if you think that your life is going nowhere, start looking into your attitude towards success.

Thus, when you want to change something in life, you must first look into changing attitudes that may be in contradiction with said change. For example, when you desire to be more popular, you have to change your negative attitude towards social interaction. And did you know that scientific studies have pointed out the health benefits of positive attitude? Since depression and anxiety, both of which are manifestations of a negative attitude, can precipitate health problems like heart disease, asthma, hypertension and even cancer, it pays to be more positive towards your health and your life.

Ways to Change Your Attitude for the Better

Fortunately, there are ways to change attitudes for the better. Psychologists and therapists have developed three basic categories for doing so, which you can adopt in your daily life.

First, you can utilize the cognitive approach wherein a change in the way a person thinks about an object is achieved through persuasive communication. Usually, conflict must be created between the old attitude and the new attitude. For example, if your attitude towards the environment is one of eco-friendliness and yet you drive a gas guzzler, conflict between your beliefs and your actions will be discussed. Then, the viable alternatives to harmonize the two will be presented, which you can then choose from in order to change your attitude.

Second, you can apply the behavioral approaches with their carrot-and-stick style of changing attitudes. The premise behind it is that humans will repeat actions that are rewarded and avoid behaviors that are punished, hence changing the attitude towards a certain object.

There are parameters to using the behavioral approach that will increase the chances for success in using this method. For one thing, the reinforcement must be fairly specific either in tangible or intangible terms. For another thing, the rewards must be clearly linked to the desired behavior and the rewards themselves must be desirable and equitable compensation for the desired behavior. For example, in your weight loss efforts, your reward for an achieved goal can be a feast of your favorite foods in moderate quantities even for just a day. Your punishment can be extra hour on the treadmill.

Third, you may use the social approaches of modeling and consensus to change the attitudes of individuals within a group. Or even your attitude within your social circle. Basically, the social approaches are premised on the human tendency to mimic the attitudes and actions of the people we admire. For example, you can find yourself a mentor who will guide you through your attitude changes. At the very least, you have a role model who actually lives the life you want for yourself.

You can choose just one or use a combination of these approaches to changing attitudes. Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules in their uses, just flexible applications depending on the situation at hand.

In conclusion, our attitudes determine how we think, how we act, how we react and how we live our lives. It is important then to change our attitudes whenever necessary to allow us to live fuller, healthier and longer lives in the short time we have on Earth.

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