We are either the masters or the victims of our attitudes. It is a matter of personal choice. Who we are today is the result of choices we made yesterday. Tomorrow, we will become what we choose today. To change means to choose to change. ~John Maxwell

What kind of thoughts come to your mind when you think about your life? How about your family, your work, your future? Suppose your thoughts could change your destiny. Would you want to change or improve any of them?

We might believe our thoughts just happen, and we don't consider the fact that we can choose to stop certain thoughts and refocus. We can choose what we accept and meditate on, and we can choose what we resist and reject. Our thoughts shape the attitudes that direct our lives. We make decisions based on our attitudes and beliefs.

Thoughts lead to other related thoughts. When they are hopeful and positive, we develop a good attitude. Likewise, a bad attitude results when a habit of negative thoughts dominate our thinking. For example, suppose you feel hurt that your friend didn't come to your birthday party. You might begin to think that it is because it isn't important to her. That thought may lead you to wonder if she really likes you. Maybe you did something to offend her. Maybe there is something wrong with you. You feel angry and rejected. You dwell on the offense and have a bad attitude. If you hold on to it, feelings of rejection may lead to bitterness toward your friend. It may even lead to a desire for retaliation. It is common to reject others when we feel rejected.

Hurt and angry feelings affect our choices and attitudes. We might not be able to control how we feel, but we can control how we direct our thoughts. Suppose you were to stop the negative cycle after feeling hurt by your friend. There could be many good reasons why she wasn't able to join you. Maybe it had nothing to do with you. You can choose to not take it personal if you know she wouldn't intentionally want to hurt you. You can choose to not dwell on the offense and negative feelings. You can refocus. If it really bothers you, talk to her about it. In doing so, you just may find out that you had the wrong idea all along. This happened to a woman I know. She never received the invitation sent by her friend. It was somehow lost in the mail. Her friend assumed she got the invitation and chose not to come. It was months until she discovered why her friend had a bad attitude and pulled away from her.

Our thinking patterns become habits and attitudes. Optimism and pessimism are the result of the kinds of thoughts we choose to dominate our thought life and perspective. If we were to live by these words of wisdom, we would spare ourselves of the negativity that keeps us from fulfilling our potential and purpose: Fill your mind and meditate on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Philippians 4:8).

We can choose to occupy our minds with the best in people or situations, rather than the worst. We can choose to see the beauty and splendor of every rose rather than its thorns and ugliness. We can notice and praise what is right and good rather than dwell on mistakes or problems. We can hold on to hope rather than submit to despair. We can appreciate and embrace what we have and all that is before us rather than live in regret of the past. We can choose to live today as best as we can because that is all we have right now.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind. ~~ William James

It's your choice: you can either count your blessings or recount your disappointments. ~Jim Gallery

We shouldn't deny the pain of what happens in our lives. But, we should refuse to focus only on the valleys. ~Charles Swindoll

Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. ~Max Lucado

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Author's Bio: 

Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a psychotherapist, author, teacher & musician. She is the cofounder of New Day Counseling, a family couples counseling and child teen counseling center, BeHappy4Life.com, an award-winning, self-help and inspirational site where you can find hundreds of free resources, insights & words of inspiration, and Baby-Poems.com where you can find beautiful baby poems, baby quotes, cute sayings & baby videos that will touch your heart & increase your joy & gratitude for the children you love & enjoy! Krystal is also author of several blogs: Words of Inspiration, Give Thanks Journal, Baby Poems & Be Your Best blog.