Amanda Ripley

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Attitude: More Important than Exercise

7th Oct 2008 posted in Disaster Behavior

I never fail to be amazed at how much attitude matters. It sounds so squishy and lame, and yet… Again and again, research and real life prove that attitude is the single biggest determinant of almost everything.

I saw it in researching THE UNTHINKABLE (in studies and stories showing that people with a healthy attitude recover more fully from trauma), and you can see it again today in the New York Times. In a study mentioned on the front page, people who a positive attitude about aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer (a bigger increase than those associated with exercising or not smoking).

One problem: we know way more about how to quit smoking than we do about how to change your attitude. Which is harder, for example? I don’t know. I am guessing quitting smoking.

This all reminds me of a fantastic quote by the theologian Charles Swindoll. I first learned of this quote when I was working on a story about 9/11. A man told me his wife had slipped this quote under the door to his home office the night before she left on a business trip. She died on one of the hijacked planes.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home.