Thoughts on Perceptions and Attitude

In a previous post, I described the experience of a person walking through a dark parking lot followed by a man. The body’s natural stress response was initiated as she perceived she was in danger. She raced to her car only to realize that she wasn’t in danger at all; she had simply been followed by someone who had parked near her. In reality, she wasn’t in danger at all.

What then, is reality? Reality is our perception of our surroundings. In a manner of speaking, reality for me will be different than reality for you. Could it be then, that our perception of what our surroundings are determines what evokes the stress response or relaxation? This doesn’t mean that if I feel stressed, I am not in a difficult situation. No doubt some circumstance has made you feel threatened, worried, or anxious in some way or another. However, it seems to me that if we can change the way we perceive our surroundings, then we can change how much stress we feel.

For example, I worked for a few years as an aide in a local hospital physical therapy clinic. As I worked with different patients, I began to notice a trend. Some patients came into our clinic excited to be there, anxious to learn what they could do to get better, and knowing that they were going to get better. Other patients came in frustrated that their doctor was making them waste their time with physical therapy. They were convinced that no matter what we did, they just were not going to get better. I was impressed to see that the latter group really did struggle getting better. They may improve for a time, but their progress would plateau before they were completely healed and back to normal life. On the other hand, those with a positive attitude and a perception of progress and improvement really would get better; furthermore, the healing generally seemed to happen in a shorter amount of time and more completely than their grumpy counterparts.

How do you see your surroundings? Do you see the future as glum and hopeless or bright and hopeful? Do you plan for success or do you consign yourself to failure from the beginning? Simply changing the way that we look at the world around us can greatly decrease our perceived stress and improve our mental and physical health.

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12 Responses to Thoughts on Perceptions and Attitude

  1. joysita16 says:

    Its amazing what perception of our surroundings can do to influence our reaction to things.

  2. hillarymcd says:

    Attitude really is everything. I’ve noticed in my own life that when I have a negative attitude about an assignment or a class I don’t give my best effort and generally don’t do as well as I could. I’m really only hurting myself and missing out and great opportunities to learn by being heal-back by my attitude.

  3. spencerrichards says:

    So much of our perceptions are based on how we grew up, but that can never become an excuse for not making a choice to see something in a good light.

  4. trmptmvn says:

    This was interesting to me, and I have definitely been in the “oh hold up, is this dude following me?” situation before. I’ve always been alright in situations like that, but each time I have to tell myself that even if I am potentially in danger that I need to keep my head. I think you could easily equate keeping your head with how you perceive your surroundings.

  5. kirataylor says:

    Thanks so much for addressing this. I know that it is so important to be positive. A quote that I think President Monson said was, “The future is as bright as your faith.”

  6. Stacey says:

    Attitude is amazing. I’m still not sure how much it actually influences daily productivity, but it certainly makes life *seem* better when you deliberately choose to be happy.

  7. kaca says:

    Considering all of the negative things that could happen, it’s important to have a hope of all the positive things that could happen.

  8. kargibs says:

    I think this is really true as I have seen evidence of this in my own life. Especially when I am in stressful situation, I take the time to enjoy the good things about that day or focus on what I have. In some ways, these can become my best days simply because of the way I choose to see things.

  9. ashleenelson says:

    I love this. I am a strong believer that attitude is EVERYTHING so i really agreed with and enjoyed this post.

  10. This is great. Our perceptions and attitudes are so influential upon our health. It is a great reminder to have a positive attitude in all aspects of our lives.

  11. aayers08 says:

    I’ve been trying to think more positively and looking at life in a broader perspective. It’s easy to look at everything you have to do in the week and feel overwhelmed, but if you take it one step at a time and remember that the week will pass, you will be happier in knowing that you only have to go to school once (for most) and school is just a hill we have to climb. Planning for success will reap better results than going into something already believing that you’ll fail.

  12. cpace2 says:

    It has always been interesting to me to think about just how different two people’s ideas of reality can be.

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