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Circumstances in life have a way of shaping our attitudes. Webster defines attitude as “a mental position with regard to a fact or state; a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.” How we have dealt with things in our past determines what our attitude is toward most situations. Several things may affect how our attitudes are developed. Sometimes it is through observation of how others have dealt with similar situations that determine how we interact when placed in a similar setting. You are probably guilty of saying it yourself, “My momma used to do it this way” and because  that was how she handled it, whether it was good or bad, we believe that is how we should react.

Also, our instincts cause us to react, framing our attitude. We are instinctively afraid in settings that produce fear. We instinctively get defensive or upset when a word is inflected with the wrong pitch. Experience shapes our attitudes. Perhaps in some settings you have sensed “feeling this way before” based upon events of the past. How we process past occurrences has a great impact on our attitude.

Christian author Chuck Swindoll has said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” That 90% is attitude. We can’t control the 10% that happens to us, but we can control how we respond. It’s very important to understand that attitude is a choice!

For the Christian, our relationship with Jesus Christ has the greatest effect on our attitude and mental state. Christians, above all people, have a hope in a God who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), in a God who meets every need (Philippians 4:19), in a God who is loving, patient and kind. How we handle situations that shape our attitude should be different from the world. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Isaiah 43:18-19 where God says to the people, “Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.” We serve a God who can affect our attitudes and change our future!

As I read Scripture, I am convinced that a Christian who really desires to please God and obey Him in their everyday walk will develop a positive attitude. It should be a natural outcome of our relationship with God and getting to know Him better. Think about it: Nobody can make you have a bad attitude, I don’t care how bad situations are.  Nobody can force you to have a good attitude, I don’t care how good the situation is. You choose to have a good or bad attitude. Your attitude is your choice. What is your choice? Philippians 4:8 Remember your attitude will determine your altitude!