Commentary - Attitude of gratitude

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
As I babysat my friend's 2-year-old daughter, quite a restless little peanut, we read a whole library of colorful, educational toddler books. One in particular caught my attention -- a book about complaining. The story was about a girl who was never happy, causing her parents to worry and her friends to avoid her company.

We choose whether to complain or not, whether to have a good day or not, whether to enjoy life or not.

Consider this -- two people in seemingly similar circumstances, yet one is happy and the other is depressed.

"You may not always be the master of your circumstances, you can always master the way you respond to those circumstances," said Dr. Valerie Galante, a licensed clinical psychologist with the 99th Medical Operations Squadron mental health clinic. "Within every moment of everyone's life, we have choices to make. You can choose to focus on the negative and be ungrateful, or you can choose to focus on the positive and be grateful. It is healthier to have an attitude of gratitude."

Constant complaining certainly brings people down and can have a negative impact on the workplace. No one likes to be around someone who is always whining. Attitudes, both good and bad, are contagious and people are responsible for their attitudes.

"The main cause of our emotions and behaviors is our thoughts," said Dr. Galante. "The way we think, how we evaluate events, perceive circumstances and/or people, and the self-talk chatter that goes on nonstop in our minds is what determines the emotions we feel, how intensely we feel them, and for how long. If you do not learn to effectively manage your emotions, they will manage you."

To always expect the negative in hopes of never being disappointed is not healthy, said Dr. Galante. But neither is always expecting the positive, as everything will not go as planned and many things are uncontrollable. The goal is to have rational expectations and to be prepared to cope with any outcome knowing that you will be okay no matter what happens.

For all you unhappy people out there -- take a critical look at your surroundings. Focus on the good things in your life. It is possible. Maybe you got in trouble for driving under the influence, got stuck with extra duty and lost a stripe or two? Well, at least you didn't kill anyone and hopefully you'll learn your lesson. Your boyfriend broke up with you? Now you have all this free time to dedicate to your friends and family, education and volunteering.

Have you ever heard the phrase "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything"? I say, give it a shot. Comment on the good things around you and let the bad stuff slide. You will be amazed how fast it will improve your mood and lighten the atmosphere at work.

"The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." -- Carlos Castaneda, a famous American writer.