I keep seeing this meme posted on social media (see above). It’s been going around for months and maybe longer. And I’m not a huge fan. A little analysis will help us understand why this idea can rob us of happiness, success, and responsibility…
The basic idea here is this: My attitude (which, defined, is “way of thinking or feeling about someone or something” and typically has an effect on how I act and behave) seems to depend not on my choices, but on other people’s choices. If other people are having a bad day and treat my unkindly, I won’t have much choice. I’ll see this day as bad and will act accordingly. And best of all? You can’t really blame me, not for my thoughts, feelings, or behavior. I’m not in charge of how I feel and act…you are. And everyone else is. Everyone but me.
And at that point, you are at the cruel mercy of the unfeeling, impatient, tired, angry, selfish crowd. A prisoner.
James E. Faust (1920-2007), once taught that we are here on earth to act, not to be acted upon by others. We are responsible for our choices:
“That brings me to an important point that I wish to make this evening…. Each of us must take the responsibility for the moral decisions we make in life…. Lehi states: “And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” Being acted upon means somebody else is pulling the strings.” (General Conference, October, 1995)
His next line in the address is: “We live in a time when many want to avoid the responsibility for their acts”. That is quite telling. An easy way for you or I to act foolishly or unkindly and not have to take responsibility for the actions is to look around the room and scream But look at how all of you are treating me! What choice do I have? I have to have a bad attitude! This isn’t my fault! It’s everyone else’s!
Back in 1974, Marvin J. Ashton shared: “Proper attitude in this crisis-dominated world is a priceless possession.” (General Conference, October, 1974) Wouldn’t it be hopeless if this “priceless possession” was something you couldn’t control within yourself? If you could only have this “priceless possession” if other people were in the mood to allow it?
Some basic truths to end:
- You and I are on earth with the ability and power to act and choose. We are not here to be acted upon.
- You and I can choose how we are going to feel and act, independent of the actions of those around us.
- Heavenly Father will help us change our attitude if we seek Him and His help (2 Nephi 2:16).
- Since it is true that we can have our attitudes affected by others, we can have a positive affect on the attitudes of others. But, ultimately, their attitude is up to them.
- We are responsible for our attitudes and actions.
The meme is wrong. It teaches a false doctrine. And Pinterest is full of that meme, so I’m supposing that many people have “liked”, “favorited”, or “pinned” the idea at one point or another. Too bad. My guess is that in the next few hours you’ll head into work, or home from work, or into class, or to a party or get-together….Choose now how you want to feel and see things, and go forward. You really can do it. It really is your responsibility.