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What is attitude? Of course you can find out the meaning in dictionaries and perhaps wikipedia or encyclopedia or ask your teachers or even parents. For me an attitude is the state of mind when you are comfortable with what you are doing or you are oblivious of factors requiring you to behave or act in a certain manner.

When people say that you have a bad attitude they may mean that you do not act as expected in certain circumstances. For example when you notice someone spitting/ throwing rubbish indiscriminately in public, you would say that he has a bad habit, not properly brought-up and has poor hygiene. Would you think he has a bad attitude? Or is it a matter of education? Or a matter of enforcement?

I have seen certain visitors from Singapore throwing rubbish from their car windows when in Malaysia but they would not do that in their own country. I would term this as a bad attitude because they are aware of the strict enforcement in Singapore and refrain from the act on account of the penalty faced but it is not so strict in Malaysia so they revert to this undesirable act nonchalantly.

How then to change attitude?

Changing attitude requires three components to be satisfied. The first is knowledge that is at the cerebral (cognitive) level. This is where you are aware that spitting/throwing rubbish in public is bad/unhygienic, the second component is practice where you do not spit/throw rubbish in public everytime you have wanted to and the third component is the emotion that if you still spit/throw rubbish in public, you would feel guilty, your conscience would trouble you and you probably would lose sleep over it… hey Presto! You’ve changed your attitude.

Unless the cognitive,behavioral and emotional components are satisfied, you have not changed your attitude as simple as that. So think of anything that you want to change and go through the components and it may take time for you to finally change but the most important thing is you need to start in the first place. Remember a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step (Chinese sage).

As for the Singaporen visitors throwing rubbish in Malaysia, I would say they have satisfied only the first component of attitudinal change process because they are selective in their practice and their conscience is still free despite their actions.

Another example of bad attitude is the habit of procrastination. You can change this attitude when you make up your mind and start earnestly the above process. It is better if you could have someone to support you like your parents, siblings or friends. But you can also do it on your own.

Another aspect of a bad attitude is the inability to think hypothetically or visualise possible events that would occur had you done or not done something at an earlier time. For example some people were trying to bribe me to do something to favour them in their contract’s bidding. The bribe was quite a staggering amount and carefully camouflaged. Though I abhorr corruption, that momentary thought of accepting made me shiver as I bit my lips and then visualised how supremely happy I would be and that my dignity would be intact had I not succumbed to this offer. Then I thought of how ashamed would my family be if I were to be caught in this corrupt practice and then I thought of jail…. Gosh, I would die in there! I also thought of how my decision would affect the people I was serving and how lowdown it is for someone who has broken the trust given to him/her!

Suffice to say all those thoughts and vision of a hypothetical post-bribe situation were sufficient to deter me from involving in corrupt practices. I am aware that corruption is evil, I do not give in everytime it surfaces and I feel guilty if I were to practice it! So in short my attitude towards corruption is set/cast in stone. I am my own policeman.

You can change your attitude only if you want to.

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