Attitude determines altitude

June 19, 2017

People often tell me how positive I am, and that is true most of the time. Having lived over 15 years with a painful, life changing neurological disorder called dystonia, there is no way on earth I could do it if I didn’t have a positive outlook on not only this aspect of my life, but on every other aspect of my life. Before I give the wrong impression, I still struggle with difficult symptoms, so it is not as though I am cured or have all the answers. I continue to be a work in progress, but for those who know me or have read my book, you know that I have come a long way from some very dark places, and you can too.

For those of you who are deeply suffering, talk of a positive attitude may anger you. I understand. There was a time when it would infuriate me also. What I have learned over time though, is that this is the only way to live well, but we can only embrace this mindset when we are ready. Take your time. Allow the grief process to play out. I will never stop trying to drive this information home. Someday I know it will stick.

I don’t say “be positive” for the sake of saying it and I wouldn’t look for life’s silver linings unless I truly believed it helped. I know what suffering is like and would never blow smoke up your backside or put a fluffy spin on things. Some people feign happiness and a positive outlook, while others live it. Both work, but if you actually believe it and live it, it will have a greater impact. A genuinely positive attitude helps us cope more easily with the daily affairs of life. It brings optimism into our lives, making it easier to avoid worries and negative thinking. It also produces more of the “feel good” hormones in the brain. Check out The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

There is a popular saying, “Attitude determines altitude”, and this is the absolute truth in my opinion. I lived in a very pain filled, depressed and anxiety ridden world for a long time, but I chose to not let myself be that person anymore. I realized that there was no way for me to live and battle successfully if I wallowed in misery. Even though I try to find the silver lining in most things, I still struggle and it can sometimes get to where my head wants to explode. This is when I know I have to dig even deeper to keep myself from losing my marbles and going into that dark hole I once lived for way too long.

When I keep my eyes focused on the positive, or put a positive spin on things, I am better off. However, it’s okay to sometimes talk about what is wrong and vent about it. I do. Sometimes focusing on what is wrong with us is the best thing to do because we need to express our emotions. Acknowledgement of our pain is also the first step to healing. However, we can’t let ourselves only live in that depressed, anger filled world with no talk, or action steps, about how to get out of it. It just won’t work.

Years ago when Zig Ziglar declared, “It is your attitude, more than your aptitude, that will determine your altitude,” a lot of people saw it as a catchy phrase from a motivational speaker. But he was right. Please take these words to heart and even in the depths of despair, never give up hope. If I can turn my life around from pure misery and despair, and to this day still battle with intense symptoms at times, you can too. We all can.

If you need help, reach out and I or someone else will lend a hand. We can often feel very alone, but I promise if you extend your hand, there will be someone there to grab it and help you get through the day, and that is all that matters. Forget about yesterday. Forget about tomorrow. Just get through this moment right now and tomorrow will take care of itself.

Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, a comprehensive resource for anyone suffering with any life challenge. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, and volunteers for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, for WEGO Health as a patient expert panelist, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network. To learn more about Tom’s coaching practice and get a copy of his book, visit Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram


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