Finding a Positive Attitude in MS

Vicki Health Guide
  • Ability is what you're capable of doing.

    Motivation determines what you do.

    Attitude determines how well you do it.

    ~ Lou Holtz, American football coach (January 6, 1937 - )

    Attitude determines how we deal with what we want to do within our capabilities. We all have control over our attitude, and with a positive attitude we have the best tool to enhance each and every day. Winston Churchill agreed when he said "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."

    What is this thing we call attitude? Since it was first discussed in the context of modern psychology from 1935 to now, there is little agreement on what it is.* The definition I am choosing in this instance is that attitude is a state of mind.

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    Believing you can is the first step in doing something. If you believe you can, the only thing preventing you from doing it is your disabilities. As an MSer, I can affirm that it's not the disabilities that define us; rather, it's how we deal with the challenges of our disabilities. It is, in fact, our attitude that allows us to deal with those challenges.

    Multiple Sclerosis is a challenge from the very beginning. After the diagnosis, when all the blood drains from the face, our questions begin. There are many things, small and large, from physical abilities to cognitive  skills and even moods that haunt us. Our attitude determines if MS is going to defeat us, especially when we feel helpless, sad, or even depressed. These are dangerous moods.

    We must take charge and maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude helps increase happiness throughout the community. Thinking positively also helps more of us enhance our gratitude. It may seem awkward to be grateful when you have MS, but we can at least be grateful for the medical advancements and more understanding. Individuals are finding they enjoy more time with their families and less time at the office. It’s hard not to be grateful with a positive attitude. One of the most powerful things about it is that each of us has power over our own attitude. We can change it.

    When I find a topic to write about, my research usually includes quotes said or written by famous people. I would like to present a quotation I found by Charles Swindoll, who was named as one of the top 25 most influential preachers of the past 50 years (1956–2006). His quote is long, but it eloquently says exactly what I want to say. Here it is —

    The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church...a home. We cannot change our past…  we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude.  And so it is with you… we are in charge at our attitudes.

  • ~ Charles R. Swindoll, American writer and clergyman, b. 1934

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    I have written on Finding Happiness in MS and Finding Gratitude in MS which both rely on attitude. Attitude is important and powerful, and Charles Swindoll tells us it is not only the most important asset in our arsenal, but we have the power to control it and change it.

    While our personal attitude is important, the attitude of health care teams toward MS is more about a perspective than a state of mind. It is difficult for the general public or health care teams to talk about people with MS, because MS is not a homogeneous group. MS is an individual disease and each person has symptom clusters unlike other MSers. When the medical community speaks about people with MS, many varied symptom clusters are included. For that reason, treatment programs for MSers are easier said than done. Not only does each symptom require treatment, but often combinations of symptoms as well as the disease as a whole must be considered.

    It would be most beneficial for health teams to better share information. Globally, this practice is rapidly improving as more team centers learn about and work with each other.

    Gratitude is the best attitude. ~Author Unknown

    Notes and Links:
    *Preface - This is the introduction to a book, Belief, Attitude, Intentions and Behavior that talks about the modern psychology perspective of the relationship between attitude and behavior.

    Christianity Today  named Swindoll as one of the top 25 most influential preachers of the past 50 years (1956–2006).

    MSRC (Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre) offers a particularly good essay about the power of positive thinking

Published On: October 04, 2010