“Attitudes are more important than facts.”
- Dr. Karl Menninger
Author Norman Vincent Peale refers to the above quote as a “profound truth” in his famous and best-selling book, The Power Of Positive Thinking, and it’s one of the most thought-provoking inspirational quotes I have ever come across.
Karl Augustus Menninger (July 22, 1893 – July 18, 1990), was an American psychiatrist and a member of the famous Menninger family of psychiatrists who founded the Menninger Foundation and the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. (Wikipedia)
In many ways the quote reminds me of the saying: “Is your glass half full or half empty?” meaning that a optimist will see his as half full and a pessimist will see his as half empty. However, it goes far beyond the saying. It actually tells us what is causing us to view our glass as either half full or half empty, namely our attitude! And, that our attitude is more important than facts!
Our attitude determines how we interpret and give meaning to facts. Let’s assume you have just lost a loved one. It’s a fact. You can either have an attitude of life is not fair, life is cruel, there is no God, God does not care, etc. Or, you can have an attitude of being grateful for the time you had with your loved one and that your loved one is in a better place right now. It’s normal to feel sad when you lose a loved one. But, being bitter or negative does not help you or anyone around you. What is important is your attitude! You can’t change the fact that you have lost a loved one. But, you can change your attitude towards how you feel about the loss.
Today is the 11th of September 2011 and I can’t help but think back to the tragic events that took place in the US ten years ago when thousands of people lost their lives in the worst terrorist attacks ever on US soil. The facts are well known and tragic. But, our attitudes are even more important than the facts. Many people across the world and especially in the US had an attitude that this is only the beginning and that worst terrorist attacks would soon follow. They allowed fear, suspicion and even hatred to run their lives. And, unconsciously they fuelled the negative energy surrounding the events.
In some ways the aftermath of the 911 terrorist attacks was even more tragic than the event itself. Thousands of civilians and US soldiers were killed in the Iraqi war and in Afghanistan at great expense to the American economy. Many US Muslims felt like they were being treated as terror suspects in their own country, all as a direct or indirect result of the prevailing attitudes at the time.
Whatever facts you are facing right now, joblessness, divorce, etc. just remember that fear, anger and hatred only fuel negative energy and that a positive attitude will get you moving forward much faster while negativity will only keep you back.