Outlook and Attitudes

Life is often filled with broken hopes and big disappointments. Therefore, what is important is not so much what happens to us, but it is the attitude we take toward that which happens. Frustrated ambitions and crucial circumstances certainly affect life, but it lies within our power to direct the impact. When we raise lightening rods of worry, we will attract thunderbolts of trouble. There was a sales manager of a large concern who was faced with a problem of declining sales by some of his salesmen. He decided to call them all into his office for a conference. On the wall he tacked a large sheet of white paper and in the center he placed a black dot. He asked each salesman what he saw on the paper. All of them reported, in turn, “a black dot.” The manager became furious and said, “Don’t any of you see the white space on the paper? That’s the trouble with you guys. You see only the black dot and you miss the entire white space.”

It’s all in the outlook. Outlook determines insight. The eminent psychotherapist, Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, recalls that in the concentration camps there were those who walked through the barracks giving away their last piece of bread to starving inmates. Those heroic people offered convincing proof that everything can be taken away from a human being except the right to choose one’s attitude.

One summer a college student who was afflicted with muscular paralysis decided to go door-to-door selling books. After he was told at one house that they didn’t need any books, he turned to leave. When the lady of the house noticed that the young man was limping, she called out to him, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize that you were handicapped. Tell me, doesn’t being handicapped color your life?” The young man quickly retorted, “Yes, but thank G-d I can choose the color.”

What’s important is not so much the world that we look out on, it’s the world we look out from. In the long run, we see things not as they are, but as we are.

There is legend about a terrible, mean, oppressive ruler whose face was always deeply furrowed. One day he fell in love with a beautiful girl but he was afraid that she would reject him because of his harsh features. He called in a cosmetologist who arranged to have a handsome waxed face made for him. The cosmetologist told him that he would have to keep his face within the painted lines. The ruler asked, “How can I constantly keep my face within those lines?” “Think noble thoughts,” was the reply. He replied to the arrangement and eventually won the affections of the young lady. When he later took off the mask, he discovered that he had become like his thoughts. We become the product of our thoughts.

Kindness is an essential item to the human soul. Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life. The word “kindness” is derived from kindred, implying an affection that we bear naturally to those who are our flesh and blood. This basic kindness is found in the parent/child relationship, as rooted in the German word “kind” means “child.” Gradually the word came to embrace everyone whom we treat as a relative.

And yet, one of the most difficult things to give away is kindness. While you can pay back a load of money, we are forever in debt to those who are kind. If there is any good that we can do, or any kindness that we can show, let’s do it now.