The 1 Word That Can Change a Bad Attitude

Dealing with a bad attitude? Squash your negativity with just one simple word!

Grumbling. Complaining.

Over the past few months I feel like I’ve experienced a lot of amazing opportunities, yet missed out on what’s really good. Instead of appreciating the goodness, I revert to complaining.

  • My family found a new house and moved, and while I’m thankful for it every day, I still grumble about the amount of unpacking and settling in that’s required. If only I could be grateful for the belongings we do have that need unpacked. We could have moved in with absolutely nothing.
  • After taking a vacation this summer, I complained because we were more tired after our trip after being on the go every single day. Yet we’re the ones who planned the busy but fun trip. And the fact that we got to go on any trip at all was pretty special.
  • Now that our family is back to school and our schedule’s filling up with all kinds of activities, I’m tempted to bemoan the fact that we’re always on the go and I’m turning into a taxi driver. But this flurry of activities will fill our lives with wonderful people and experiences we’ll never forget.

Woman sits on the floor with one raised finger

A woman sits in a chair

Cultivating criticism

Critical attitudes are really easy to cultivate these days. When you can rate practically anything online – from a hotel stay or restaurant you visit or anything you buy on Amazon– it’s easy to look at your everyday life as a critic.

The thing is, being a critic isn’t always a good thing. If you think about the root word – “criticus” in Latin or “kritikos” in Greek – it means to judge or discriminate. The English word typically involves finding faults, as evidenced in the words critical, critique, criticize, and criticism.

If we spend our days always criticizing everything that comes our way, it will be a lot more challenging to notice the good in things. How easy is it to focus on the positive if you’re used to finding the negative?

One word changes everything

Because I don’t want to miss out on the joys and blessings of life and because I want to appreciate all that God brings my way, I know I need to carefully watch the way I think about things. As Philippians 2:14 instructs, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

As I’ve pondered how I could appreciate situations more, I realized everything starts with the way I think about things. And choosing to use one word in particular can help me shift my view.

Mom sits on the floor with her toddler daughter

Curious about what that one perspective-changing, attitude-adjusting word is?


Now, instead of telling myself I have to do something or I need to do something, I tell myself I get to do something.

  • Instead of thinking that I have to prepare a Sunday school lesson, I tell myself that I get to prepare to tell kids about Jesus.
  • Rather than saying I need to drive my son and daughter to their practices, I remind myself I get to spend time with them in the car and be a part of their lives.
  • When I’m tempted to think of all the housework I have to do, I remember I get to create a better home (a haven!) for my family and all those who come and visit.

Gather ye rosebuds

Realizing that I get to do things helps me focus on all that God has put in my path – different opportunities and responsibilities that can make a big difference in both my life and the lives of others. Using this subtle word change has dramatically changed my attitude (for the better).

If I spend all my time dwelling on the thought that I’m so busy or there’s too much to do, I miss out on the gifts that are right in front of me. Instead of having to plow through my to-do list, I get to seize the day.

As Mr. Keating said in the film Dead Poets Society:

“Seize the day, gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the poet write these lines? … Because we’re food for worms, lads! Because we’re only going to experience a limited number of springs, summers, and falls. One day, hard as it is to believe, each and every one of us is going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die. … Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Our time is short. And instead of frittering it away with complaints, make the most of everything with a better attitude.

A change in perspective

If you find yourself looking at everything with a critical eye and feel negativity weighing you down and stealing your joy, it’s time to stop.

  • When you’re tempted to complain about the dirty laundry or dirty dishes again, stop. Think about the people in your life who are creating those messes and be glad they’re in your home. Or, remember how fortunate you are to have enough clothes or dishes to get dirty.
  • If your friend asks you how you’re doing and your response is “busy!” it might be time to stop dwelling on what’s on your to-do list and to think about how you’re building into yourself or other people through all of your plans and activities.
  • When your kids tear apart your house after you just spent the past hour picking it up, stop before you complain about them or to them. Instead, remember they’re kids who need to be taught and reminded – and God’s given them to you to shepherd and guide. (Sometimes it also helps to remember they won’t stay young forever.)

As you start reminding yourself that you get to do things, you’ll watch your complaints start to disappear. You’ll start seizing the day and making your life extraordinary!

A woman sits in a chair

What are some things you typically complain about? How can you think positively about them?

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All images courtesy of Deposit Photos.

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