Exposure to the elements changed my mind.

“With that attitude, you won’t catch a wave.” That’s a sentence your boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, surf buddy or whoever you are with, and who can surf much better than you, will tell you at some point. And they should.

And everyone else in the water watching you is thinking it, when not saying it out loud.

Being somewhat fearful is allowed, it’s human and showing respect towards the ocean and your own abilities; getting in the water and then hesitating, is not.

Hesitation is not appreciated.

Hesitation doesn’t get you anywhere in the water and you won’t make any friends.

Your actions in the water need to show commitment to the wave and to everyone around you: It’s a unique social setting. And it’s a great opportunity to exercise control over your mind.

You did get into the water because you wanted to do it. And you assess the situation before you go in. You decide on whether you can do this day or not, and you usually challenge yourself a bit more every time. Once you are in, and you start hesitating, it’s time to become self-aware and to actively control your thoughts.

Being exposed to the elements and how you act or react is where your true colours, your attitudes, your mindset shine through. The beliefs you hold about yourself and the world become visible quickly.

It’s a space where you need a “can do” attitude more than anywhere else.

You can see it when someone paddles for a wave but is thinking, “I don’t want to, please pass me by dear scary wave…”

The more you do that, the less opportunity you will be offered to catch the next one by others. It’s an unspoken rule and dynamic that happens again and again without words.

You can read lots of articles on attitude and why it matters for personal and professional success.

But nowhere else does attitude matter more than in a social setting while in full exposure to nature and its forces. (This applies to surfing but probably also to hiking or mountain climbing? I can only speak to water experiences today.)

And that’s what I love about it. Away from our highly regulated, domesticated and digitalised lives, you learn about yourself and others in its purest form. And that very quickly. If you do keep an open mind and open heart. Not everybody does, but then they usually give up and don’t go in the water again.

What is attitude?

Your attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about something. It defines the way you see and experience the world. Sometimes people differentiate between attitude and behaviour. Attitude is what you say, behaviour is what you do. But ultimately, attitude is expressed by your behaviour as your behaviour shows your attitude.

Your values and beliefs over time form your attitude.

(Values + beliefs) x time =attitude

I personally don’t believe that attitudes are either good or bad, or not even positive and negative. They are just what they are and they define the current version of you. The world is in constant flux and so are we.

I’d maybe distinguish between an open and closed attitude and a “can do” vs “can’t do” understanding of yourself, or as Carol Dweck describes her famous Fixed vs Growth Mindsets.

The question is: which attitudes serve you well? Are you interested in shifting the way you see the world when you realise your current thinking might not serve you?

Attitude change is often described as hard. I disagree with this. Attitude is a choice. You don’t brush your teeth or shower only once, you do it daily. Similarly, you choose your motivations daily.

As Viktor Frankl said: It’s the ultimate human freedom; your ability to choose the way you think, your attitude, in any given set of circumstances.

Your attitude is your responsibility.

How to change an attitude? You need to be intentional about it, it requires self-awareness and of course, external support can help. We are social beings and surrounding ourselves with “can-do, open heart and open mind” people always helps.

Other popular approaches for attitude change are defined through moments when you learn new information, when you are persuaded by influential people or when you experience great discomfort that forces you to reevaluate your experience and choices.

In a moment of despair, when I started questioning the purpose of the life we live and when I felt betrayal by every more grown up human who must have misguided me on what really matters in life, all I had left was to rethink how I choose to think about what’s happening in my life and in the world. Taking full control of my experience by taking control of my thoughts was the most empowering experience to date.

And since that moment, I don’t feel sorry for myself ever, or for other people who feel sorry for themselves.

I firmly believe that the attitude you bring to your day is your most important daily choice, as it defines your experience in life and your ability to do the things you want.

Codie Sanchez says, she always hires for attitude, not for skills. Because skills you can teach, attitude is a person's choice.

And a certain attitude does not only get you a job with Codie, it supports your health and wellbeing.

The concept of Biology of Belief by cell biologist Bruce Lipton and his research demonstrate the connections between mind and body and that it’s not just genes and DNA that control our biology, but that signals outside the cell including diet, toxins and thoughts trigger gene expression.

Humans need to create environments in which their cells and thoughts can thrive.

Thoughts are energy. Emotions are nothing else than energy in motion. What you think and feel defines your experience and has an impact on your physical health.

Be in charge of your thoughts to be in charge of your life. Attitude care is self care.