A-B-C method of managing attitudes (6/2/10)

As an airport skycap checked through a customer at curbside, he accidentally knocked over the man's luggage. He quickly collected the fallen bags and apologized for the mishap. Unappeased, the traveler burst into an angry tirade, raging and swearing at the skycap for his clumsiness. Throughout the traveler's rant, the baggage handler simply apologized and smiled. The angry man continued to berate the skycap, until he finally headed off to catch his plane. Even then the baggage handler remained calm and passively smiled.

The next customer in line witnessed the incident and marveled at the skycap's professionalism and control. "I have never seen such restraint and humility," he said. "How do you keep your cool when somebody is attacking you so viciously?"

"It's easy," the skycap answered. "He's going to Denver, but his bags are going to Detroit."

That is certainly ONE way of managing attitudes, but here is a more constructive approach.

Have you heard of the A-B-C method of managing your attitude? It's simple and effective.

"A" stands for the "Activating Event." Let's say you get stuck in traffic. The traffic jam is the activating event.

"B" stands for your "Belief System." You believe that traffic is only getting worse and you'll have more and more days like this ahead.

"C" stands for the "Consequence of the Event." You become angry. You want to honk your horn. Your stomach is tied in knots and you bang the dashboard with your fist.

The problem is...most people jump directly from "A" to "C." They get stuck in traffic and become angry. They think the traffic jam made them upset. They don't realize that they didn't HAVE to get angry. They skipped an important step!

Let's try it again:

"A" - you get stuck in traffic.

"B" - you believe that you were given some unexpected and extra time to spend in solitude, to listen to a great tape or to plan your day.

"C" - the consequence is that you feel gratitude for the gift of time.

I have a friend who is fond of saying, "A traffic jam has no power to make us angry. It just stops our car." He is aware that between the activating event and the consequence is something that we control: our beliefs about what is happening.

The next time you have a problem -- at home or at work, big or small -- decide to manage your attitude toward it. Practice the A-B-C method. You probably can't change "A," the activating event. But try hanging "B," your beliefs about the problem. When you change your beliefs, you also change "C," the consequences of the situation.

It's as simple as A-B-C. Manage your beliefs, and you'll manage to be a lot happier!