You know those cool lights where you can turn a dial to control the intensity of the light? Well that is exactly how your mental mindset controls your life. Your attitude is the dimmer switch for your life.
The Negative Attitude ("Who turned out the lights?")
A negative attitude is the equivalent of turning your dimmer switch down. The more negative the attitude, the less light in your life. And what happens when you try to walk around with no lights on? You stumble around blindly trying to feel your way, bumping into coffee tables and doorways, and stepping in poo (naughty dog!).
Darkness is also scary. Everyday objects like trees cast strange shadows and everything just looks a little creepier at night in the darkness. Not to mention that when you cannot see details your brain likes to fill in the gaps using imagination. And a negative mindset means a negative imagination. The result? Animals look scarier, people look dangerous, and strange shapes look like crazy monsters ready to attack. Or is that just me?
I remember a good example of this happening to me when I was 10. I was reading a horror story just before bed. I'm pretty good at separating reality and fiction so I generally do not get scared by books and movies. This particular story involved a headless woman who was seen standing in a yard waving her arms and tapping on the window try to get her head back. Not very scary. I finished the story and turned off the lights to go to bed. Suddenly it was a lot scarier.
The moon was casting a shadow on my wall which looked remarkably like the head of a woman (complete with frizzy hair hanging down) hanging from the roof, and there were some crazy limb-shaped objects waving around outside and tapping on the wall. Not only was the headless woman story true but she was right outside my window!
Maybe not, but when things are dark rationality goes out the window and fear takes over using our imagination to fabricate a negative outcome. This is exactly what we do to our lives when we maintain a negative mindset.
Update 5/5/11: If you find that your life is full of negative emotions try reading my article on How To Harness Your Negative Emotions To Make Positive Changes
The Positive Attitude ("Geez it's bright in here")
The positive attitude is the polar opposite. It is like cranking your dimmer switch all the way up as far as you can and yelling "Let there be light!" Ok you don't have to go crazy like that but what happens when you have lots of light? Well you certainly don't go stumbling around, stepping in poo because now you can see everything. And it's definitely not as scary.
When I was lying in bed as that scared little 10 year old I knew that logically there was not going to be a headless woman hanging around my window (surely she would have better things to do) but the irrationality caused by the darkness was much stronger. So I grabbed a torch and crept outside to investigate. Turns out the hanging head was just a hanging fern (that explains the frizzy "hair") and those waving limbs were just trees. Phew. Back to bed.
If I had not shone a light onto my fear to expose it for what it really was (and not just what I imagined it to be) then I would have spent the entire night curled up in bed, utterly terrified. I mean a headless woman tapping on the window is obviously after some revenge and not just a friendly chat right? But I suppose that's not really the point.
The point is that a positive attitude is the metaphorical torch in our lives. The more positive we are, the brighter our life will be. Alleys wont be as scary, people will be friendlier, storm clouds will be lighter, and those strange shapes will be…well, less strange. The outcome of all this? A more energetic life with less fear and more happiness. Sounds good doesn't it?
Where have you set your dimmer switch?