Victor Frankl could have been forgiven if he had displayed a bad attitude. As a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, he was witness to some of the most indescribable horrors in human history.
How, then, did Frankl avoid the fate of pessimism and bitterness? He wrote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.”
Our attitude is a matter of choice? Few ever come to that realization. They merely take the mood that comes with the events of their day and act correspondingly. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I’ll be in a foul mood for awhile. If I get that promotion, I’ll be on top of the world. If not, stay out of my path!
What can a person do to test Frankl’s theory of choosing one’s attitude? Here are some ideas from one who was described as having a heart like God’s (Acts 13:22):
• Practice Praise: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” said David in Psalm 34:3 (NKJV). When we take time to realize how much greater God is than the problems of our world, we’ll be encouraged. Life won’t seem so dismal to one who is a child of the Omnipotent Father!
• Try Thankfulness: In Psalm 103:2, David gave this admonition: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” After writing that, he listed some of his many blessings. It will work the same for us. When we count our blessings, we remember that God has not forgotten us. Every day his mercies toward us are rich.
• Break Out The Blinders: Hear David again in Psalm 101:3: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.” Is television filling our souls with discouraging images of problems or with scenes of wickedness? Would our attitudes improve if we spent time meditating on good, wholesome ideas and images (cf. Philippians 4:8)? “Garbage in, garbage out” was first applied to computers, but it also explains many a bad attitude.
Christians should demonstrate attitudes that are markedly different from those of the world. Jesus said so in John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Ask someone close to you: “Does my joy show?” If it doesn’t, it’s time to choose a better attitude – with God’s help.