Attitude, personal responsibility, persistence

The Importance of a Healthy Attitude

The Importance of a Healthy Attitude

I’ve heard it said that attitude determines altitude in life. It’s a clever way of saying that one’s attitude determines to a great degree how successful an individual will be in any endeavor.

Attitude certainly affects relationships. A story is told about two travelers who stopped for fuel on the outskirts of a town. “What are the people like in this town?” the first asked the attendant.

“What are they like where you come from? The clerk responded.

The man proceeded to describe the people of his home town as selfish, arrogant, unfriendly, and petty. After hearing his description the attended advised him, “I believe you’ll find that the people here are much the same.”

A short time later the second traveler arrived and asked the same question. As he had done with the first, the attendant asked the traveler to describe the people he knew at home. “They are wonderful. They are friendly, care a great deal about their neighbors, and are always willing to give a helping hand,” was the reply.

The clerk opined as he had before, “I believe you’ll find that the people here are much the same.”

Attitude is known to play a major role in achieving success in business. Individuals who look for opportunities are always better able to capitalize on them when they arise than people who are focused on downturns in the economy.

I have observed that attitude has a tremendous influence on a person’s health and well-being. I believe that one’s attitude toward “health care” will determine to very great degree whether the individual is able to resist disease and recover when it occurs.

I regularly see two attitudinal extremes in my medical office. The people who come to see me generally fall into one of two categories. One group consists of individuals who have applied for medical disability payments. The other is comprised of persons who are trying to conquer a health challenge they are facing.

It would be very difficult to determine in which group any given individual belongs on the basis of their physical condition. Individuals who come to see me seeking to restore their health are often facing greater health challenges than those who come to me for a disability physical. The distinguishing factor is not the diagnosis (which is often the same), it is not the severity of the condition, and it is not the duration of the health challenge. What defines the members of each group is attitude.

Individuals pursuing a disability certification almost always have an entitlement mentality. It is not uncommon to hear an applicant state, “I’ve paid my dues, now it’s time for me to collect what I’m owed.”

It is very difficulty for me to accept that a person should dramatically curtail his or her activities, live in constant pain, and be unable to sleep restfully when he or she has a condition that could be corrected simply, quickly, and inexpensively. When such a condition exists, which is quite commonplace, I inform the individual that their condition is reversible.

To date, I have not had a person seeking disability payments choose to pursue measures that could restore health. Something is always perceived as an insurmountable obstacle. The most common response is, “I don’t have insurance, so I can’t get any help.”

The “I don’t have insurance” excuse astounds me. I recognize that we live in a society in which people have been conditioned to believe that employer or governmental provided insurance is needed to obtain medical treatment. Nevertheless, the logic that says that health restoration should not be pursued if the cost is not covered by insurance escapes me.

I am quite certain that the people who refuse to spend a penny out-of-pocket to deal with a physical challenge do not hesitate to pay to have a television set, refrigerator, or microwave repaired or replaced if it is not working correctly. Most will have their car repaired if it breaks down even if the vehicle’s warrantee has expired. It is most unfortunate that so many feel that they cannot improve their health unless someone else pays for the measures required to do so.

I believe the “I don’t have insurance” excuse and other reasons given for not seeking assistance in reversing disabling condition indicate an attitude of helplessness. In many cases this is due to having seen several physicians without obtaining relief, but in others it is simply an extension of a general attitude of powerlessness in all areas of life.

Individuals who are seeking disability benefits have given up. They do not believe that it is possible to improve or reverse the health challenges that are present. They have adopted an attitude of victimhood. Life has dealt them a rotten hand. Circumstances beyond their control have taken away their opportunity to enjoy life.

The people who come to me seeking answers to their health challenges have refused to accept that their condition is irreversible. They have a “never give up” attitude that has grown out of a sense of personal responsibility. They express a belief that they can control their health challenges rather than allowing those challenges to control them. They see no excuse for failing to continually pursue wellness.

Just as the helpless attitude of those who have given up arises from a general sense of powerlessness in all areas of life so the never-give-up attitude of those who continue to seek answers reflects a general attitude of personal responsibility in life. If I accept that I am responsible for what my future looks like I have the power to mold and direct it; if I believe that I am a helpless victim of circumstances beyond my control my future is fixed and I am powerless to change it.

The good news is that it is possible to change one’s attitude. Health challenges that appear to be irreversible may prove to be readily solved when viewed from a different perspective. I encourage you to adopt a “can do” and “never give up” attitude. It will serve you well not only in determining your state of health, but in all aspects of your life.

© 2009 Wellness Clubs of


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