11/17/2011 07:22 EST | Updated 01/17/2012 05:12 EST

It's Your Choice


Look back at your life, and the people in it, for a moment. The people you know, whether they are family, loved ones or friends, can usually be divided up into positive people or negative people. If you're like most people, myself included, you have a mixture of people on both sides of the spectrum. They are clearly identifiable, though. You can always tell the difference between a positive or negative person. The person with a positive attitude has a 'glass half full' optimism and can usually find the good in everything. The pessimist, or the 'glass half empty' person can be very critical and down on themselves as well as others.

And then there are some of us that would love to be that eternal optimist, but find themselves all wrapped up in the stress ball of life. They may try to be as lighthearted and whimsical as they can, but stressful jobs, or crazy lifestyles can throw a curve ball to all the well-intended thoughts.

I was reading an email from Bob Procter the other day. He was talking about bad attitudes. In it he said, "You do choose your thoughts and that choice is where your attitude originates." Further along, he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, "A person is what they think about all day long."

Remember the old saying, "We are what we eat"? What Emerson said is so true. We ARE what we think about.

I truly believe this, and, even before reading the likes of Proctor and Emerson, I had already turned a leaf by changing my attitude. Admittedly much of this attitude change was a result of a personal quest to cure my breast cancer, however I can't be sure it wouldn't have happened anyway... cancer just gave me that big kick in the butt!

As an example, I will use running. I once heard that there were three phases in a runner's life. Let's think of it as the first, the second and the third. The latter probably being the most reasonable phase of running. I am speaking from personal experience here. Almost six years ago I purchased my first 'real' pair of running shoes and started running. Keeping in mind that I was already in my mid-40s when I started, I was still keen and obsessed with getting out there as much as humanly possible during the first phase. Ignoring all the recommendations of experts that had been running for decades, I would increase my mileage more than I should have, and regularly go for a short run after a particularly gruelling long run the day before.

I was lucky that I wasn't injured, although I may have been if I remained in that phase longer than I did. I was going through operations for breast cancer and the subsequent chemotherapy treatments during this phase, which probably contributed, in a good way, to my need to get out on the road. I was also losing weight and transforming my body image, which is, in itself, real inspiration!

Two years after I began, I found myself entering phase two. This phase is more reasonable, but highly competitive. Some runners remain in this phase for quite a long time. You are a more seasoned runner, and have probably entered your fair share of races. You are sticking to a sane training schedule, and with each race you are attempting to better your personal best time. I remained in this phase, to a certain degree, until earlier this year.

And it's during the third phase that lies the true test. This is where your attitude comes in. When you are in this phase you will be faced with different challenges. Running becomes more solitary, as sometimes running partners get busy, or injured or may decide to take up a new sport. It becomes easier to find excuses not to run... weather is a good one; especially up here in Canada. I may stay in this phase for awhile, or may go back to phase two.

But the important thing is I continue to run, and enjoy running, because I choose to. I choose to think that my run will be enjoyable and energizing, in no matter what kind of weather. I choose to continue be an example to my family, and encourage my girls to keep up with regular exercise, in whatever sport they may choose. And when you choose these types of thoughts -- positive thoughts -- that choice frames your attitude. It's simple, really. Think positive thoughts, and your subsequent attitude and actions will be winning ones.Think negative, and that's just what you'll get.

Choosing the right attitude is beneficial in all aspects of your life. It is positive thought that helped me through my own personal battle with breast cancer, got me through several half marathons, pushed me to attend law school, entirely in French, when I had never attended a French language school before, and encouraged me to run for public office because I believed in a cause.

Anyone can experience a marvellous life with faith, and the decision to do so. From that point on, your entire outlook to life will change, in a powerful and successful way, for both you and those around you!