Attitude. It’s the one thing you have total control over. Your own mental attitude.

That’s your attitude toward your writing. Your attitude toward your writing community. Your attitude toward society at large. And your attitude toward life overall.

This post is short. Recently, I was told I write encyclopedic posts (not mentioning names, Steve) but that was meant in a positive way, just like I try to keep my attitude – positive.

I’m a life-long Napoleon Hill student. If you don’t know of Napoleon Hill and his classic self-development treasure Think and Grow Rich, go read it. The core of Napoleon Hill’s Science of Personal Achievement is “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve with positive mental attitude.” PMA, for short. Here’s a clip from T&GR:

Your own mental attitude is your real boss. While your time and your labor may be subject to the demands of your employer and others, your mind is the one thing that cannot be controlled by anyone but you. The thoughts you think, your attitude toward your job, and what you are willing to give in exchange for the compensation you are paid are entirely up to you. It is up to you to determine whether you will be a slave to a negative attitude or the master of a positive one. Your attitude, your only master in life, is entirely within your control. When you control your attitude toward events, you control the eventual implication of those events.”

Attitude. You can have a negative mental attitude. Or, you can decide to have a positive mental attitude. I won’t go into all the pros and cons of good vs bad mental attitudes because I don’t want to write an encyclopedic post. So, I’ll keep this short at 382 words.

Attitude. The word is eight letters long. Our English alphabet has 26 letters, and each has a numeric value as they progress along the alphabetic table.


A =    1
T =  20
T =  20
I =     9
T =  20
U =  21
D =    4
E =    5

Kill Zoners? On a scale of 1 to 100, from negative to positive, how’s your attitude today? Mine usually runs in the 90s, and I have a safety net built into the system if it drops below 80. That’s my positive wife of 38 years, Rita, who keeps me in check and makes my life wonderful.

40 thoughts on “Attitude

  1. I love your positive attitude Garry! We all need a positive attitude in this business. Support from loved ones certainly helps, but support in our writing community is also vital. It’s difficult to maintain positivity with the knock backs, but that’s true in any business. And never believe your posts are too long!

    • I gotta admit I lost it the other day, Linda. A new Korean BBQ chicken place just opened in town and I went online to check it out. Their site had a popup that wouldn’t let me view their menu without liking their Facebook page and entering my email address. Rita intervened and she ordered pizza.

  2. Thanks for another terrific (as always) post to start a Thursday morning, Garry. My attitude has been great. Focus helps, as does the realization that a life sentence at 70 is far less of an impediment to behavior than it was at 35! Have a great one! But you already are, aren’t you?!

    • Good early morning, Joe. I’ll bare my KZ soul and let folks know that 36 years ago my police partner, and best friend, was shot dead beside me with a bullet that should have been meant for me. From that moment on, I made it my mission to enjoy each and every living day.

      Daily, I get the “How’s your day going?” question, and I always answer “My day goes great every day. The older I get, the better life is.” And I mean that.

      • Garry –
        So sorry to hear of your tragic loss. Friends are beyond measure.
        I totally agree with you (and Hill) on the power of a positive attitude. Thank you for the reminder. Wishing you the best.

        • Thanks, Tom. It was a bad scene but, ironically – from tragedy – it made me a better person. I still keep in touch with Mike’s family pretty much every day.

  3. Good post, Garry. Good reminder not to sweat the small stuff.
    In writing: One of my critique partners and I are on Hangouts together every day, shoring each other up when things get wonky.
    in life: One of my critique partners and I are on Hangouts together every day, shoring each other up when things get wonky.
    And there’s the Hubster of 52 years (next Tuesday) who offers his own kind of uplifting.
    As Joe said (and I out-age him), as the years go on, things have a different impact.

  4. Good morning, Garry. I want to start with a great big apology. I’m sorry! I meant my comment as teasing among friends. I should not have used the word “encyclopedic.” I enjoy and learn tremendously from your “thorough and in-depth” posts. Don’t change.

    As for attitude: Today mine is 80. Manic depressive disorder runs in my family. I tend to usually run on the manic side, but I respond too quickly to external events. Thanks for the reminder that we can take control of our attitude.

    And thanks for a great post. Don’t stop writing inciteful, thorough, in-depth posts. We’ve all learned much from them.

    Have a great 90s day!

  5. Another fantastic post, Garry. Attitude makes all the difference. I’d say mine is an 80 this morning, it usually runs higher, 90 or more, especially when I dial back on the news. My wife, 39 years and counting, also helps very much to keep things in perspective.

    We’ve been taking a course on Stoic philosophy (“Think Like a Stoic”) which also has been pandemic-proofing my attitude, especially on distinguishing between what we can control, which interestingly for today’s post, is our own attitude, and what we can not, which is everyone and everything else. Oh, we can make a difference, absolutely, but not control those other things. Our attitude, on the other hand, that’s very much in our control.

    Thanks again for this insightful post.

  6. Wow, Garry, what a tragedy about your partner/friend. Kudos that you were able to turn it into a force that motivated your positive attitude instead of allowing the trauma to destroy you.

    Tying this post to crime writing, characters’ attitudes are hugely important b/c they often drive the story. Even though a hero can be cynical and nihilistic (as in noir), s/he is the one who keeps trying to set things right in a world full of negativity.

    • It was a tough turnaround, Debbie. I find that talking about it from time to time is therapeutic – it gives me a reality check about what’s important and what’s not.

      The more I do this crime writing thing, the more I understand that characterization is key to storytelling. I’m into the hardboiled scene at the moment which seems to be totally character-driven plots.

  7. My father always used to say he didn’t like negative people. I don’t remember many days when he wasn’t cheerful. I try to honor him by “always looking on the bright side of life,” but have to admit there are days… Your post today is timely! Was working on attitude adjustment today after a difficult day yesterday, and this fit the agenda perfectly. (and shout out to my crit partner who gives me someone to talk to when I don’t want to talk to anyone!)

  8. I enjoy all of your posts, Garry, and always learn something! I’m one of those the glass is full and overflowing people (if I stay away from the news, then I’m half-full). Taking a cue from Debbie, what if the hero is an eternal pessimist and the heroine is 180°…should make for interesting complications…

    • My encyclopedic posts, Patricia? The news…. most depressing thing ever. Up here in Canada, we’re into a federal election and the party-bashing ads are disgusting. So I tune into Facebook and get some hilarious stuff. Enjoy your day, as my old neighbour Ray used to say.

  9. Sorry to say, mine’s been in the drain field for a bit now. I think it has something to do with the online company I’ve been keeping . . . you know, Fox, CNN, Newsmax, yada yada yada. Nothing like newsmongers and warmongers to cause the deep slide to pessimism.

    Thanks for the cattle prod this morning, Garry. We’re never too old to be forcibly herded in a different direction, one that’s good for us. I think a news lockdown, moratorium, or news masking is in order for me for the next, say, century or so. 🙂

    • Sorry to hear about the drain field, Deb. We bought a new TV a couple weeks ago and it hasn’t improved the news like I thought it would.

      Speaking of cattle prods, here’s a true cattle prod story. Years ago, drug squad had their office next door to our serious crimes section. This was when the indoor pot growing operations were starting up and most of the pot growers had pit bulls guarding their grow shows. Rather than shooting the dogs during a raid, the drug guys got a cattle prod to zap them. One day the old sergeant was walking by a notoriously bad-behaved drug officer and he up and cattle-prodded the sarge in the ass. It sent the old boy into heart palpitations and they had to call 911.

      • Haha! Poor guy, but sounds like he deserved it for sure.

        I must say, the discussion here about your post has cheered me up considerably, so I thank you, kind sir, and all the rest of Team TKZ. 🥳

  10. Great post, Garry. I love the fact that the letters in “attitude” add up to 100. Lovely.

    Since I have so much to be grateful for, I am usually in the 90’s attitudinally. We traveled all day yesterday, though, and I let my score drop below 80. 🙂 A good night’s sleep helped me get it back.

    I do believe one’s mind is like a garden. You have to plant the right seeds and work at keeping it weeded.

    Thanks for the great information. I love all your posts, Garry, encyclopedic or otherwise. Keep it up!

  11. Isn’t that quite the coincidence, Kay? Like, you can’t make this stuff up. I have the quote “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve with positive mental attitude” framed and hung above my monitor.

  12. My attitude is generally positive. I attribute this to three influences:

    1) My parents hammered a sense of self-responsibility and problem-solving into me.

    While I was growing up, my parents, who were quite permissive compared to my friends’ parents, made it clear they trusted me to choose my options in life but I was responsible for the outcome–Never was I to blame somebody or something else for the results. If I was disappointed by the results, it was up to me to remedy the situation or move on.

    2) I was a college student and a mother of two rambunctious young boys when I read “Stress without Distress,” by Hans Selye. That book offered me a reminder and different viewpoints of accepting self-responsibility. Even when uncontrollable events arise, I still can choose how to respond to those events.

    3) I have a close friend, I will call M. She has a terminal disease, but you’d never know it. She looks and acts like the healthiest person I’ve ever met. She maintains a healthy diet, learns new languages and hobbies, and never complains or indulges in self-pity. If I’m having a bad day, I think of M’s situation and how she chooses to live her life in a positive manner.

    • Nice comment, Truant. We always have to remind ourselves there are many, many other people who have it far, far worse than us. Above all, we have to take responsibility for our choices and actions. Thanks for your wise input!

  13. Well, we’ve been out grocery shopping in torrential downpours all day and we’re still not done. My feet have swelled to the size of Canada and I’m drenched. Right now, I’m running about a 30 on the attitude scale. 😂 Kidding. I’m married to a goofball who makes it impossible to drop below 85.

    • 30’s not bad if all the others are in the 20s, Sue. You’re also internet married to a goofball who enjoys most days in the 90s 😉 Happy grocery hunting, BFF, and say hi to Bob for us (Rita & I).

  14. I love Napoleon Hill.

    I usually stay in the high 90’s but this has been a crazy busy exhausting week at work. I was doing 2 jobs since my counterpart was in Hawaii. I’m also doing Goalposts, which is the screenwriter’s equivalent to NanoWriMo and was beating myself up for missing yesterday. I started out today in the 70’s with a migraine. Since I worked Sunday my weekend starts today (wahoo!) Which brought me back up to about 85.

    Curled up on the couch with hubby (not as long as Terry – we’re at 43 years) and my chihuahua watching Shaun of the Dead and will jump back into my screenplay shortly.

    I’ve never been shot at but my mother did throw a hairbrush at me once.

    Thanks for the uplifting reminder.

  15. You probably deserved the hairbrush shot, Cynthia. Goalposts, eh? Haven’t heard of it, but I will check it out now that I’m dabbling in screenwriting. Man, is it ever a different game than novels.

    ps. With you on Napoleon Hill. The 17 principles are 100% truth and they sure help highball the attitude.

    • I have no idea what set Mom off (I was five) but I’m sure I deserved it. I was a handful. She had deadly aim but I had quick reflexes, which I’m sure ticked her off even more. Fortunately I was able to hide behind the maid, who was bigger than both of us so she couldn’t reach me. The maid took my side and said “Miss Mary Ellen, leave that baby alone,” and much to my surprise, she did. Thank you Carrie. You saved my life.

      Definitely check out Goalposts. Bluecat Writers” Gordy Hoffman (Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s brother) runs it. We have a Facebook group where we post our progress (what page we’re up to now) in the daily thread. Gordy’s very sweet and encouraging and always has a daily inspirational message. I think you’d enjoy it.

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