When you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude


In the midst of the upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic, people across the globe are trapped in circumstances they don’t like but  feel powerless to change. I thought of this statement from the late African American writer and vibrant personality, Maya Angelou:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

In observing the response of so many people who exhibit negative behavior in what they say and do, I thought such individuals could use “an attitude adjustment.”

In one sense,  we all are confronted with a whole new list of actions we must perform on our daily “to do list,” actions that we have to do or “got to do.”  In following the advice of Maya Angelou, I suggest, however, making an adjustment in how we think about essential tasks that we “got to do.”  

A number of years ago, a dear friend, Dr. Dale Sides , introduced the concept of changing our attitude from what we must do or “got to do” to thinking about what we have the privilege to do or “get to do.”  I shared the concept of changing our thinking from “gotta” to “gitta” with a friend and fellow teacher, Dr. Yolanda Stewart, who suggested that I express that concept in a poem to show just how important making such an attitude adjustment can be.  The poem seems ideally suited to the demands imposed on us in light of the current crisis that has changed our world so dramatically:

From “Gotta” to “Gitta“

Little biddy things can happen that don’t make much sense,

But changing one little letter can make a really big difference.

Subtle changes in the words we speak can also change our mood:

From “gotta” to “gitta” shows a whole new attitude.

“I ‘gotta’ go to work or stay at home and pass the time away”

Becomes “I ‘gitta’ go to work; I am thankful I have a job today!”

“I ‘gotta’ take care of these kids—now that’s another world”

Becomes “I ‘gitta’ nurture young minds who will someday change the world!”

Work heartily as to the Lord, whatever you do.

Remember in the end that He alone will reward you.

You may not agree with me, but it’s still so true,

Especially when you face tasks you really don’t “wanna” do.

Some doors may close, but this key to life you will find:

Put off the old, put on the new and renew your mind.

“ ‘Gotta’ to ‘gitta’ ” is thinking of another kind.

Move ahead in faith, and you won’t be left behind.

We have to change in the midst of these changing times.

Standing on the mountain top is the one who climbs.

Changing how we think and what we say does make sense;

From “gotta” to “gitta” makes a really big difference.

The poem also brings to mind  a vintage show tune sung by Roy Hamilton who tells us what we should emphasize, not just during the current crisis, but every day we should endeavor to maintain a positive attitude:

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2 Responses to “When you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude”

  1. ivanstewart1 Says:

    Wonderful word. Thank you for your consistancy Papa J.

  2. Dr. J Says:

    You are so welcome. You and Yolanda are such inspirations to so many.

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