Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Attitude retardation

I was surprised one day when I walked into the restroom to hear a person say hello and start talking to me. In today's culture, that's so out of the norm. I said hello back, and then he told me his name was Joseph. Joseph is mildly retarded.

Every once in a while we'll happen to meet up in the restroom, and each time he'll ask me if bad things ever happen to me, and he brings up a litany of possible bad things I might have experienced. He seems to have had a rough childhood, because he said his mother had hit him with a chair, so I wonder if there has been much good, much hope, in his life.

Today, he asked me the same question, and after a short conversation, I turned it around and ask him if good things happen to him. He said yes, then immediately got back on the subject of bad things.

It may well be Joseph's mental retardation that plays a part in keeping him focused on the bad things. But I see so many seemingly mentally astute people with attitude retardation. Just like a mentally retarded person has "subnormal intellectual development or functioning" (per the American Heritage Dictionary), a person with attitude retardation has subnormal positive attitude development or functioning. But unlike mental retardation, attitude retardation is often a choice. Some people choose to focus on the negative so they can evoke pity. Or they don't want to make something of their lives so they think of excuses for why things are so bad in their lives.

In future posts I will write about some things I have learned about having a proper attitude. One thing I'll say now is that according to Zig Ziglar, we need to have regular input of positive messages because we are bombarded with so many negative messages each day. As 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (HCSB). If it corrupts bad morals, don't you think that hanging around with negative people will make you more negative?

If you don't already have friends with positive attitudes, find some. And limit your time with the negative attitude friends. If you must be with the latter, bring up postive things (not to mean you should be a Pollyanna, but don't make things worse than they really are). It may take some time, but maybe it will start to rub off. In fact, I'll have to remember to try that with Joseph.


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee.

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