The Nature of Attitude

Attitude © Erik Back 2012

I’m working on an ebook titled “6 Powerful Mechanisms Behind Personal Change”. This post is a part of the chapter about positive attitude. I will show you what attitude is and how you can use it to be proactive.

The Nature of Attitude

Daniel D. Droba claims he was the first to define the attitude concept and he did so in his article The Nature of Attitude from 1933.

Droba based his study on 55 books on sociology and psychology and he concluded that attitude is a state of preparation to action.

“Attitude is a state of preparation to action”

Carl Jung’s definition of attitude

I’m surprised that Droba only used American sources and studies because the attitude concept has a central role in Carl Jung’s Psychological Types published in 1923.

Jung’s work is used today in personality tests and development of organisations.

In his work “Psychological Types” (pp. 526-30) Jung gave his definition of attitude:

“Attitude is a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain direction.”

Jung places great emphasis on the attitude concept because it is a powerful mechanism that is based on experience:

“To have a certain attitude means to be ready for something definite […] having an attitude is synonymous with an a priori direction towards a definite thing.”

Jung believes that we have both a conscious and an unconscious attitude. I you want to act in a certain direction you have to be conscious about it; for that you need attitude.

“Active apperception is impossible without an attitude.”

Jung has identified certain types of attitudes that are based on habits.

“When a function habitually predominates, a typical attitude is thereby produced.”

This means, that habits can develop both consciously and unconsciously; these habits will produce some kind of attitude.

If you want to change something you need the right attitude to do so. That is why you can combine habits and attitudes and thereby create personal change.


Experience → Attitude → Action

It’s raining. Rain is wet and cold. → Rain is bad → Cancel date

Habits → Attitude → Action

Bad habit → Negative attitude → Negative projection to other people

Unhealthy diet → feeling of guilt → healthy people are patronising

You can use this mechanism to create change. Changing a habit is difficult and it takes time, but you can choose to adopt a certain attitude, e.g. a positive attitude, and thereby change your action.

Another type of action will lead to a new experience. That new experience is your resource to the attitude you desire.

Your attitude is not predetermined. You can choose to take responsibility for your actions and adopt an attitude that will help you to personal change. This is being proactive.

Make your choice:

I choose to be reactive and let my bad habits control my life and actions I choose to be proactive and take charge of my life and actions

Is it that simple? – Yes, it is that simple! The difficult part is to make the decision about being reactive or proactive. If you chose to be reactive then you don’t have to read anymore – just carry on with your life as usual.

Did you choose to be proactive? What are you going to do to be proactive?

Maybe you are already in charge of your personal development, please share how you did in the comments.

The Habit of Positive Thinking

Glass Mirror © by Lel4nd

Make positive thinking a habit. I think that having a positive attitude is important to lead a happy and successful life. Often I meet people that have a profound negative attitude toward everything. They all have the same problems: They are unhappy and unsuccessful. People that are always negative also seem to be sicker than people that have a positive attitude.

On the other hand if you talk to very happy and successful people you will soon realise that they are incapable of seeing anything negative. Every time you present a problem to a profound positive person he will immediately turn the problem into an opportunity and he will most likely be very excited about it.

There is evidence that a positive attitude will strengthen your immune function. If you are into scientific reading you can look up “Positive Affect and Immune Function” by Anna L. Marsland, Sarah Pressman and Sheldon Cohen.

How to choose a positive attitude

I don’t see any reason to choose a negative attitude. Most people want to be both happy and successful – I know I do. Basically it is all about how you perceive the world; it is about how you look at the world and translate the information you get.

Imagine that you have to pairs of glasses in front of you. One of them is carrying a label saying “Negative” and the other one has a label saying “Positive”. If you put on the glasses with the “negative” label you will only be able to see the negative things in the world. If you put on the glasses with the “positive” label you will only be able to see positive things in the world.

It is your choice which pair of glasses you put on! If you put on the positive pair of glasses you will be able to see all the positive things and you can pick and choose among them, as you like. If you choose to join positive activities and to be with positive people you can construct your own success.

There are many ways you can see the world and the reality. It all depends on the glasses you put on. I chose the positive glasses and this worldview is supported by the theory of social constructions by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. You can read about their work on Wikipedia.

Think about your language; do you use negative words or phrasings? Try to rephrase what you want to say and minimise your use of negative loaded words. Seek positive events and positive people.

Keep It Simple – One Habit a Month!

162 - Juggling balls © by MrB-MMX

Today I was up at 6.26 and the habit of getting up early is starting get implemented. I have to keep working on this habit. I have tried to create other habits simultaneously but I failed and I realised it is because you can only create one or two habits at the time. Leo Babauta from ZenHabits suggests that you only focus on one habit for about a month and then you can start creating another habit. [6 Rules for Dealing With Habits vs. Tasks]

When I start I project I always get over-excited and I want to do everything at once. But a good and healthy habit takes time and it is worth waiting for. A habit can take as much as 8 months to qualify as a habit. That means you have to keep focus on this habit for 8 months before it becomes something you just do without thinking about it. That is why you don’t want to create more than one habit at the time.

I failed when I tried to add a new habit every week except from two habits: Getting up early and sitting and drinking a glass of water. I could manage these two habits at the same time because they are closely related and have simple rules.

In an article on Pick The Brain by Scott Young [Tips for Breaking Bad Habits and Developing Good Habits] he suggests that you keep the rules of the habit simple or you will fail. As he puts it: “Simple rules create habits, complex rules create headaches.”

I did exactly what he says I shouldn’t do; I wanted to exercise at least 30 minutes every day but it became hard for me to do because the rules were too complicated. I defined and scheduled different kinds of exercise that had to be done on specific hours on specific days. I managed to do this for almost two weeks and then I lost the desire to do the exercise. It became something I had to do but didn’t feel like doing.

According to Stephen Covey a habit consists of knowledge, skills and desire. If you don’t have all of them you will fail. I only had two and I failed. I failed because I didn’t keep it simple.

You Can Control Your Destiny!

I can fly! © by ace_eca41

There are different belief systems but I have chosen to believe that we can control our destiny if we want to. To control your destiny you have to take responsibility of your life and your actions. At university I studied philosophy and I was especially inspired by how the philosopher Thomas Hobbes defined the free will.

Free will and destiny go hand in hand, because the only way you can control your destiny is by having a free will. The question is of course – do you have a free will? To this question Hobbes answered yes and no, because he believed in a limited freedom.

It makes sense to me that my actions will bring a reaction of some kind and sometimes this reaction is predictable and therefore determined. E.g. if I choose to throw a rock at a window, it is destined to shatter.

This means that I have a free will within some boundaries defined by nature or other people’s will to suppress my free will. If I am in prison I cannot choose to go out even if I want to, but there is nothing that hinders me walking around in my cell or doing push ups if choose to do so.

Nature also sets boundaries that I cannot break even if I wanted to. If I choose to flap my arms and insist on flying then nothing will happen. I could choose to jump out of a plane and flap my arms but it won’t make me fly. My destiny is clear: I will plunge to the ground.

Thus, I believe that you have a free will to choose your actions and steer your life in the direction you want to. This way you are in control of your destiny. You can choose good habits and form a good and healthy life. E.g. if you choose to smoke 60 cigarettes every day you will become sick and die sooner than if you choose not to smoke.

It is your choice of attitude, beliefs and habits that decide your destiny and you have the possibility to choose within a set of boundaries. You can read more about this topic if you look up ‘compatibilism’. This is an interesting and complex topic and there is a lot of debate whether it is true or not.

Please join the debate and write a comment: Are you a determinist? Do you believe that we have a free will? Can we control our destiny?

Thank you for your support!

Reaching for Help Is a Good Habit

Help! © by Dimitri N.

Kafka’s universe is starting to make more sense but the chaos is still there. Weekend is over and a new week has started with responsibilities that force me into some of my stabilising routines and habits. I was up at 5.30 today – although I usually aim at 6.28. But sometimes I have a client early in the morning.

I sat in quietude and let my mind wander – that is a good habit and a good start on the day.

The chaos inside me does not invite to carry out my habits because chaos is the opposite of habits. Habits are the routines that you repeat again and again to maintain inner peace. Chaos is not a routine and chaos does not stabilise; chaos is an inner earthquake that turns your brain upside down and confuses your brain cells to believe that they all need exercise at the same time.

My appeal for calm is useless; the only thing I can do is wait for my mind to calm down by itself. Sometimes the mind needs chaos because from chaos something new always develops. In times of change it is important to go with that change or you risk getting stuck in the past and your good habits will turn into bad habits. Thus, chaos is good although it doesn’t always feel good.

My brain cells all had their own seat and like in the cinema all the seats are numbered, but now someone has switched all the seats and it feels like my brain cells know what seat they are looking for but just can’t seem to find it. My head is dominated by confusion, but not by panic.

In situations like this you have to hold on to some of your habits to keep your foundation from falling apart. Some of it is crumbling but not all of it. Find the stable parts of your foundation and start building a new one as soon as your mind and brain cells starts to regroup and find order.

I use people in my network to support my foundation; people that already have a solid foundation that can hold my crumbling foundation are ready to help out. You should never be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. People around you also have a need to help you. Reaching out for help is a good habit.

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