AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Let’s face it; every one of us has had a
miserable day at some point. It is inevitable that there will be days in our
lives where, by lunchtime, we just want to be left alone. The way we keep from
running home and crawling back into bed is by developing a resilient, optimistic
outlook. It sounds easy for people who think that if you just smile and have
happy thoughts, people will assume you have a positive attitude. However, the
truth is that a positive attitude is all about control.
When I was a young airman, I had what may be considered by
some a hot temper. If I disagreed with someone or something, I would get mad
and, for the rest of the day, I would be in a foul mood. What I didn’t realize was that my actions not
only made it harder to build relationships, it caused me to give away control. I
didn’t want to give control away to anyone, let alone anything. I wanted to
determine my own outcome. Hence, I learned that I was the one that determined my
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your
words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it
becomes your destiny.”
The original author of this quote is unclear, but the quote
nonetheless resonates with me. We learn as kids that bad habits are hard to break,
but we often times don’t know that we are creating them. We need to be
deliberate about our outlook, knowing that the way we approach life will
determine our attitude and ultimately our character. The fact is, life is going
to present various challenges. It may be that you don’t like your new
assignment, you get selected for a temporary duty yonder or perhaps you don’t
see eye-to-eye with your new supervisor. No matter what challenges you face, if
you approach it with an open mind and a positive outlook, you will control your
own character and future.
Now, I’m not saying to smile all day and pretend that
nothing affects you, that’s unrealistic. It’s all about controlling the impact of
life’s challenges. A purposeful and productive attitude can allow an individual
to overcome life-changing events more quickly and efficiently through
maintaining control of their emotional reaction.
One of my mentors always said, “The days are long, but the
years are short.” He was absolutely right. Our time in the U.S. Air Force will
go by in the blink of an eye, but the days may seem like they drag on forever.
The way we choose to control our attitude will determine how those “long days”
will define the successes throughout our careers. Continuously choosing to tackle
challenges with a positive attitude to control the present moment can create
waves to impact not only your future, but the future of those around you.