I believe attitude is one of the most overlooked secrets of recovery. By choosing to have a positive, healthy attitude about life, suffering, the past, the future, relationships, etc., I can actually control the quality of my serenity on a minute-by-minute basis.

Notice I did not say, "control my life" or "control my circumstances." These are not necessarily always under my control—but my attitude is always under my control. My attitude is one of the few things which I can maintain and control at all times.

If I fail to control my attitude, life invariably gets messy and out of control. But even if my circumstances are terrible and my life is filled with pain, I can control my attitude.

Attitude is a simply a matter of choosing how I will respond to the situations life presents. Life is constantly asking questions of me, and my responses are all-important.

Any situation where I find myself is an opportunity for me to choose how I will respond. Any situation that life throws at me, I am capable of choosing an appropriate, healthy attitude and appropriate response.

Any situation that life throws at me. Even if my worst nightmare came true, I could still choose my attitude in that situation.

Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning chose his attitude in the Nazi concentration camps.

Jesus Christ chose his attitude when he was crucified as a criminal.

I'm unlikely to ever face either of those extremes in my life. More often, for me, the little annoyances of life are the ones I must guard against.

For example, I used be hyper-vigilant about the scratches on my European sports car. Every little ding and dent was a blow to my ego. I would rant and rave and lambaste all the idiots and fools who were responsible for door dents, shopping cart bumps, cat claw marks, rock pings, and key scrapes.

Now, material things mean so little to me. There is hardly any thing or any body worth getting myself all worked up about. Life just isn't so serious that I must go ballistic over every incident that doesn't happen to sit well with me.

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I knew I was making progress in my recovery when a neighborhood kid was going around smacking things with the just-discovered ball-peen hammer he'd found among his dad's tools. I was edging the driveway and looked up just as he decided to see the effect of popping my car's front fender.

I didn't get mad—although I could have. I didn't scream and yell—although I could have. I didn't get worked into a frenzy—although I thought seriously about doing so. The experience was a dream-like observation of myself, from above, simply noting what had happened, calmly, but firmly telling the boy to avoid doing it again, and that I would notify his parents.

I never even bothered with the latter. Nor did I bother with getting the dimple taken out. I don't even own the car anymore. What good would I have done by over-reacting? None. I can look back on the incident and laugh.

How I choose to feel and to act and to be is within my power, controlled by my attitude. Through recovery, I am choosing to exude a positive, nurturing, supportive, relaxed, mellow, balanced, light-hearted attitude at all times.

Serenity isn't something I found. Serenity is an attitude of my own choosing.

next: Acceptance

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 7). Attitude, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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