Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Positive Mental Attitude - Nature or Nurture?

         Why is it that some people grow up to have a positive attitude, good self-esteem, and trust the people around them, while other people just wreak of negativity, pushing away anyone who tries to comes close? We were all born into this world naked, vulnerable, and defenseless without any preconceived notions about what would become of our lives. For close to nine months we were safely curled up inside a dark, quiet womb in which we were "one with the universe" and still talking to angels.
Then we were pulled out and brought into a cold, bright room where soon a blanket was wrapped around us and we were put into an incubator or bassinet (traditionally) with a pink or blue sticker on it. 

          This was the first time judgement was stowed upon us, that first moment our mom (and possibly a dad) looked at us and were either happy we were born, sad because we were not the gender they wanted, or maybe thrilled just because we were healthy! Then we were given a name or maybe just "labeled" baby boy or baby girl xyz, put in a room with some other babies who were left to cry until it was time to be changed, fed or monitored for the remainder of our stay in this big, noisy, constantly lit-up building. This was the welcome we got into this thing called life.
          At what point do our mental thought processes begin to differ, making some babies grow up into toddlers who can be content playing alone, and others needing constant attention? Maybe that is the "nature" part...our genetic disposition. An independent child might be praised for being so "good" and for doing things all by himself. This positive reinforcement could cause this child to grow into an adult with enough self-confidence to pursue any goals he sets. A very self-reliant person has a strong belief that he is perfectly capable of successfully dealing with the challenges life throws at him completely by himself, rather than taking guidance from other people or things, and this may make it more difficult to develop deep, intimate relationships. Furthermore, he might resent a person who acts "needy" of others because he is perfectly content being alone doing his own thing.

          What about the child who constantly needs attention from those around him/her? If that attention is not received, would this child act out and misbehave in order to get it? This can cause a cycle of negative reinforcement in which the child grows up to be an adult who not only does inappropriate things to get attention, but is usually rewarded by getting what he wants from those around him who try desperately to avoid bad situations from occurring again. Anyone who has their mood altered so drastically based on the reactions of the people around him is setting himself up for disappointment and is probably more likely to have trust issues, low self-esteem, and therefore a more negative outlook on life.
          On the other hand, what if that child did receive the attention he/she wanted growing up, in a nurturing way that made him feel secure in his surroundings, knowing that there will always be someone there for him/her? Would he be more confident to broaden his horizons and explore the world knowing there will always be someone supporting his dreams and there if he needs them? This person would probably be more likely to trust people, develop close relationships, and have a more positive attitude in life.
          We've all had events in our lives that have caused us to be scared, worried, disappointed or sad from time to time, but given the same situation, each person reacts differently.  What would cause one person to get angry and cause harm to others, such as in spousal abuse, gang fights, or even terrorist attacks, and cause another person to get depressed and become suicidal? Then there are the rest of the people who might initially feel down but then try to find a way to look at the same situation as a blessing in disguise and use this opportunity to make a change for the better in his or her life?
          Maybe our first impulsive reactions to circumstances that occur in our lives are part of our own nature or genetic building blocks, but the way we "chose" to respond to these situations are part of our life experiences, our upbringing, the nurture we had growing up. Of course these are just my own thoughts on the topic.
          I'm a firm believer of "law of attraction" and that we are all just energy on different wavelengths so if you surround yourself with positive people it will help to raise your energy level, just as surrounding yourself with negative people can suck the life out of you. There is plenty of literature and films on "positive mental attitude" available, some of my favorite authors being Napoleon Hill, Deepak Chopra and the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. Anything that increases your endorphin levels (your "happy hormones") will put you in a better mood so if all else fails, turn to comedy and have a good laugh!