“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
I'm not so sure about James's claim. Yes, your attitude has a strong effect on the quality and nature of your life. Waking up with confidence and a thirst to confront challenges will make for a happy and productive day. Rolling out of bed uninspired and plodding through daily tasks with a long face will not. That much is well established. Your attitude foretells almost everything about your life will go.
My doubts come in terms of the ease of changing one's attitude. Here James is on shakier ground. One's attitude is a result of a lot of things: hardened, encrusted prejudices, years of experience, emotional inertia. It's no mean task to just overthrow all of that to transform a grumpy cynic into a sunny optimist.
But there is another way to tweak your life in a way that will have a near-immediate impact on your day. Just stand in a "high-power pose"--a stance that puffs you up, makes you large--for a couple of minutes. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, has a great TED talk explaining how holding our bodies in a different way can change our minds, alter our behavior and improve our days. Slight tweaks to our body language can transform, she says, "the way your life unfolds." Two minutes is all you need. The twenty-minute video is worth watching in full:
Image credit: Shutterstock.com