One of the fastest ways to change our external circumstances is to change the way we think about things. No matter how well trained we are at controlling our self-talk, sometimes we confuse two basic concepts: attitude and behavior.
Behavior is, quite simply, the way we act - the things we do and say, like facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact, and word choices. Generally speaking, behavior follows attitude. We tend to behave the way we feel.
Sometimes, though, we find ourselves in a position when we have to alter our behavior to be different from our underlying attitude. I heard a contractor at a recent networking event describe a success he'd recently had. When working with a very challenging client, he learned to bite his tongue and let her be right, even when he would have preferred to argue with her. It was not easy but he's learned that letting the challenging client get the best of you usually doesn't bode well for the length of the client relationship. Granted, sometimes you definitely need to let some clients go elsewhere - but usually, as this contractor learned, a little discipline (behavior)helped change his attitude and made all the difference.
The lesson here is that we all have the ability to control our behaviors, independent of how we feel, because it's our conscious minds that determine how we act. The most amazing outcome of this awareness is that by controlling our behavior, we can control our attitudes - exactly the reverse of the way most people live.
We can choose how we want to feel by choosing the way we behave
Our attitude affects our behavior. Likewise, our behavior affects our attitude. Like the graphic depicts, this means there are two ways to get to the same place. We can start on the inside, changing the programmed beliefs and thought patterns that determine our values, which in turn affect our attitudes, which thefore determine our behaviors. The thing about this process of change is that it can take a LONG time.
The quicker, more effective way is to change our behavior first. This is a much more active way of taking control of our life circumstances, and the marvelous thing is that our attitudes will change to reflect our new behavior.
Doubt it? Try this, right now. Push your chair back from your desk, stand up, and yell at the top of your lungs, "Boy am I enthusiastic!" Yes, your office-mates might think you're nuts, but maybe you can teach them something.
The fact is, you can't pretend to be enthusiastic if you don't have at least a little enthusiasm for what you're doing. If you stood up and whispered, "Boy am I enthusiastic," so low that your potted plants could barely hear you, you proabably didn't experience a noticeable change in attitude. But if you really took me seriously and shouted at the top of your lungs, "Boy am I ENTHUISASTIC!!" I can promise that you feel differently now than you did when you first started reading this post.
Behavior can follow attitude, but why do it the hard way? If you focus on taking control of your behavior so that your attitude follows, you'll begin to see shifts in every area of your personal and professional life.
Behavior Affects Attitude; Attitude Affects Behavior