Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

Having a good day is all a question of attitude

I love travelling, which is just as well given I have done so much of it although this will change now as I enter the retirement end of my career. In recent years it has become obvious to me that many people (there are exceptions) who work for airlines are really miserable in their work. The worst by a long margin are the stewards and stewardesses unless of course you happen to be travelling business class when somehow the attitude changes dramatically. Perhaps you get what you pay for. In cattle class these people who are purportedly providing a customer service appear to be highly skilled at not making eye contact, being totally off-hand and very practised at being supercilious. My question is, does this reflect their attitude or does behaving like this make them feel bad? Either way it must look sad from the inside out. Youve probably met people like this; the grumpy bums of the world. But then just when you decide that the human race is completely lost, you get a really nice surprise.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting old friends in Edmonton, Canada. Moving into spring the temperature got to a maximum of six degrees one day. However, it was sunny enough to have a picnic on a frozen lake one day the white wine was both crisp and nicely chilled! It was also great to revisit Judy, a manager at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. The centre, a non-government organisation (NGO) funded by government grants, helps people escapingto Canada mostly from countries that have become basket cases in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These people need to adapt to a new culture, a new language, a new life in an alien land. Mostly they have lost all or left everything behind them. Yet when you walk among them there is nothing but smiles and hugs, an eagerness to learn against all the odds, a sense of community, and an openness that is utterly disarming.

Judy reckons, and she has researched this in a beautifully written thesis, that these survivors have a very special quality; hope. Hope involves the ability to look forward rather than be caught in the dismal past, adaptability and a strong instinct to survive. I reckon that a major factor is the positive attitude, energy and goodwill of the people like Judy who run the programs and create a powerful atmosphere.

It seems to me that attitude is a decision, a choice. I can create hope for myself and provide hope for others. I can wake up, look in the mirror and decide that I am going to have the best day that I can despite feeling a bit ordinary. Or I can decide to be crabby and make everyone miserable too.

It is hard to describe how uplifted I was by the centres choir practising in their lunch break for a gig at a festival held last weekend in Edmonton. A more ramshackle group of multiple hues and features youd never meet but their voices were strong as they belted out songs in their new language; original songs and music that voiced their hope. A choice!


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