Positive attitude

  • Published
  • By Maj. Rick Gibbs
  • 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
As the saying goes, "Attitude is Everything!" Well, maybe not everything, but it is very important. A positive attitude goes a long way in increasing morale, both directly and indirectly. 

People from all walks of life recognize the importance of a positive attitude. I recall seeing numerous stories in the news about a positive attitude helping a person overcome obstacles in life; from getting along with difficult people to successfully battling illnesses. 

We in the military also recognize the importance of positive attitude and high morale on both day to day operations and combat operations. Field Marshal Montgomery, an Allied commander during WWII, said of his forces that "the morale of the soldier is the greatest single factor in war." It has been potent enough to turn the tide of some battles in favor of the belligerent with the higher morale. So, it seems high morale is something we should want to promote. 

In this day and age of declining budgets, reductions in personnel and increases in workload, it would not be surprising to run into Airmen who are feeling overwhelmed and run-down. Heck, the Air Force has been involved in combat operations continuously for the last 17 years. 

So, how have we sustained our high morale and what have we done to improve it when we have found it lower than we'd like it to be? Knowing the answer to that question is critical. Paraphrasing Gen. MacArthur's words, he said that without a positive outlook or attitude, morale "will quickly wither and die." 

My belief is that our morale has been sustained by the positive attitude of a majority of our dedicated, professional Air Force personnel. Our wing commander, Brig. Gen. Gary Harencak, has said that Whiteman's greatest weapon system does not come with a serial number or a tail number, it comes with a social security number. Across the Air Force, our greatest weapons system is our people. If this is true, and I believe it is, perhaps we can increase the combat effectiveness of that weapons system by cultivating a positive attitude and sharing it with others. 

How do we do that? In my experience, the simple things make all the difference: 

  1. Decide to be positive. It is a decision... your decision. You can choose to find and realize that in any experience, there is something positive. Think back to when you were a kid and you touched the hot stove. Pretty negative experience... right? Wrong! That experience helped you learn that fire was hot and likely helped you avoid serious injury at some later date. It was a great experience and just what you needed! 

  2. Smile. People actually feel better when they smile. It may be hard to do so and, at first, you may feel like you are faking it. Think of that first, uncomfortable attempt as a stretch or a warm-up. Keep trying. All of a sudden, you'll realize you are feeling good and are actually smiling. And smiles are infectious. It is much more fun to work or hang out with someone who has a smile on their face. You can even smile when answering a phone. Think about it! 

  3. Go for a run or a bike ride. Being fit helps you deal better with the everyday stressors of life. You also naturally produce more endorphins that help you feel better and happy. You don't get sick as often and you bounce back quicker. It is easier to stay fit once you are fit (a body in motion tends to stay in motion). 

  4. Eat healthy. So much of our American diet is composed of fast-foods that really slow us down and fatten us up. Again, those day-to-day stressors seem more difficult to deal with when we are loading up on the typical junk foods. 

  5. If the above don't work, figure out why. I read a recent article in Newsweek that bashed the happiness band-wagon. What I took away from the article was that negativism can be healthy, to a point, as it allows us to focus our energy on solving the issues that are negatively influencing us. So, put your energy into fixing the issue that is preventing you from gaining a positive attitude, then go back to step one.
Hey, these are just a few of the things I am doing that readily come to mind. Try these or use your own. 

Strive every day to develop your positive attitude. Share it with others. Simple though it may be, it is important. As we continue to deploy forward and engage in combat operations, remember that your positive attitude can increase the combat effectiveness of our greatest weapon system. Just as the B-2s mere presence can deter an enemy's aggression, so too can the continued resolve and motivation of our military forces in the face of adversity.