You’ve heard it said that, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (1). As the connection between mental attitude and health has continued to deepen, the urgency to improve our own thinking habits only accelerates. Indeed, a good choice in attitude is far more important than variable and troubled feelings.
Let me describe for you a scenario. I neither confirm nor deny whether this actually happened to our family one year ago.
Imagine you are heading out on a trip to a foreign country. Imagine what you might say to yourself and your attitude in the following scenarios. The quotations after the scenario describe how you may have ideally responded. Consider how you usually respond compared to how you would like to respond.
The airport security takes your hair gel and hassles you over some innocuous personal items. “Safety is important and I’m going to enjoy this vacation even if I’m stripped naked.”
After a great vacation, you sit in the plane on the sweltering tarmac for 2 hours unable to leave due to an engine problem. “Everything is okay. This is a great chance to finish my book! A good sweat improves your health.”
Your flight is delayed due to an engine oil leak delaying your trip by a day. “Yes! A whole day to continue reading my book, chit-chat with some new people, and take another swim in the pool!” The airline has to fly in an engine part and it is the wrong part delaying your trip by another day. “The pool at this hotel is so relaxing. I could hang out here all day!”
A day and a half into having a delayed flight they cancel your flight. “Where there is a will there’s a way. Hope is always greater than hassle.”
Your child starts crying because your family can’t leave the airport on a flight. “Don’t worry, son. We’ll get there. Persistence always has a payoff.”
The airport food costs as much for one person as it normally does for four and there are no drinking fountains in the airport. “Not every situation is ideal. Let’s make the best of it. My family is worth it.”
You go in and out of airport security and customs at least three times in three days. “Safety is important. It takes a safe flight to be a successful flight.” You and your spouse (mostly your spouse) stay up most of the night waiting to talk to an airline service desk assistant on the phone to book a new flight only to find out that they have a flight only to a location 1000 miles from where you live. “Don’t worry kids. We’ll find a way. Every step closer to home is a step we can take.”
You finally leave 2 days later on the original plane you came in that is now fixed. You end up in a connecting city over 1000 miles from home since you missed your connecting flight by 3 hours. “It will all work out. Adversity strengthens the mind. No matter how bad things are, there’s no reason to make things worse.”
You have to rent a rental car for $1000+ and then drive 1100 miles in a day and a half to get home, since you have to work and get your kids to school. “Everyone loves a good road trip! Hey, look kids, we’re driving over the Mississippi River!” Your computer died on the trip. “No problem. Everyone loves a new computer!”
All in all, maybe your attitude wasn’t quite as good as depicted above, but you were proud of the incredible tenacity you mounted to maintain a better attitude. You were proud of your spouse for staying positive and only crying briefly once. Your kids pressed through and did great the vast majority of the time. The fixed plane finally worked and you safely landed back in your home country. The passengers on the fixed plane who were all stranded together for over two days cheered in one accord when the plane took off and landed.
The rental car worked flawlessly. You were able to stay hydrated and find food at more reasonable prices for the rest of the trip. You made it home in time to get to work the next day with at least a decent amount of sleep. Overall, the vacation was restful and a great blessing with family. God must be good. He got you through all the trouble in good spirits.
Attitude is so important. It makes or breaks your life, not to mention your health.
So be healthy. Be a great attitude today.
To Your Best Health,
Greg Steinke, MD, MPH
1. Holy Bible, New King James Version, Proverbs 17:22.