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Attitudes are caught not taught: Catch a good one

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Whitworth official photo

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Whitworth bio photo



+ian psychiatrist, neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once said, “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing, the last of human freedoms – the right to choose one’s attitude given any situation or circumstance, to choose one’s own way.”

In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Frankl wrote that during his time spent in a concentration camp, he saw how one’s attitude could determine the chance of survival – literally one’s attitude could be a matter of life and death. He studied fellow prisoners and could almost predict whether they had already given up on life by their attitude. Those who did give up, died – many times within a few days.

Take control

No matter what we have going on in our life, no matter if the walls feel like they are crumbling down around us, we still have the ability to control our attitude. Life is challenging – the demands of family, work and a variety of other things can seem overwhelming at times.

Yes, there are agencies available to help us through those trying times, but there are also little things we can do to help ourselves and those around us. I’ll be the first to tell you I am not a doctor, I’m just a simple Airman from the California Central Valley attempting to pass on some of my personal experiences and observations.

Professional pride

First, I’d ask you to think about your profession – really think about it. You are part of an institution and it just so happens that institution is the greatest air, space and cyber force the world has ever known. You should feel proud of what you’re a part of – your attitude should reflect that pride.

To be part of an institution that comprises a fraction of one percent of the total population of our great nation, is a tremendous honor. As part of that less-than-one percent, your contributions have a direct influence on our ability to protect and defend the rights and freedoms of the other 99 percent of the population. I believe many of us can lose sight of what we do on a daily basis – it can be easy to forget or take for granted that what we do really matters on a global scale, and it matters a lot! 

No matter your rank, Air Force specialty code, duty title, or pay grade, we need you and your positive attitude every day. Each of us brings something to the fight and believing that can help promote a positive attitude. I believe attitudes are caught, not taught. Attitudes are infectious and are easily passed on, producing either a positive or negative impact on one’s life and the mission.

Don’t be a downer

Let’s be honest, we all know people who, no matter how good things are, will still find something to complain about. You know, the ones who could win the lottery and complain about having to travel to pick up the money. We’ve all worked with people who when they walk into a room, the mood automatically shifts (Debbie downers if you will – no offense to anyone named Debbie). Those attitudes affect all with whom they come into contact.

On the other side of the coin, we all know those people we work with or come in daily contact with who always seem to bring a sense of positivity to any environment, no matter what’s going on. These are the people who have made a conscious choice to see the positive or accept the challenges for what they are: an opportunity to grow, get stronger or become more resilient. I find it remarkable how just a couple of positive words can change the tone of any challenge or situation.

Are attitudes contagious? Are attitudes caught or taught? I believe they are both contagious and caught; I challenge you to catch a good one and pass it on!           

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