ATTITUDE: Your way of viewing life

Attitudes

YOUR MENTAL ATTITUDE to life is one of the key elements of your personality makeup. It is your default way of viewing reality, the seven options being: Realism, Spiritualism, Idealism, Pragmatism, Cynicism, Skepticism and Stoicism.

For an introduction to the “overleaves” of personality, see
Overleaves: The structure of Personality

What’s with the attitude?

Each of us has a mental framework which we use to frame our view of life, to give events and experiences a consistent meaning. This is a part of the personality known as the Attitude. It enables us to interpret reality in a consistent way.

Attitude means perspective or viewpoint.

Just to clarify, we are not talking about specific attitudes such as your attitudes to art, religion or Justin Bieber – although such attitudes could reflect your underlying Attitude. Nor are we talking about having ‘attitude’ in the sense of acting tough.

We are talking about Attitude as a major component of personality — the overall orientation of the mind, a fundamental mindset that is with you for life.

Think of it as the lens through which you see your life unfolding.

Your Attitude sits alongside your other major personality components or ‘Overleaves’ — the Goal and the Mode.

  • Your Goal is what you want most deeply out of life, both in general and in any given situation. Dominance and Acceptance are examples.
  • Your Mode is how you go about getting that — cautiously, for example, or perhaps aggressively.
  • Your Attitude is how you interpret your life experiences — your individual take on life in general — how you make sense of reality.

A coherent story

Every Attitude is, in effect, a ‘bias’ in how we interpret our life experiences. For example: Realism is biased towards paying attention to the solid facts and their consequences. Cynicism is biased against non-facts.

In fact, there is no way to mentally construct reality without one bias or another. We can experience the essence of reality purely and directly in exceptional moments of spiritual insight (awakening, enlightenment). But everyday life is more chaotic and uncertain, a jumble of events and experiences, one after another. The Attitude is how we join together our experiences to form a coherent mental picture or story of life as we live it.

By way of example, I have the Attitude of Idealism. I tend to look at life in terms of how perfect it could be. I look for ways in which life is good, or better than it seems, or could be made better than it is. My mental framework automatically reconstructs everyday life events so that they fit some perfect, ideal pattern (as I see it). So my sense of life is biased to a framing it in terms of some nice idea that makes perfect sense to me.

My wife, in contrast, is very sensitive to ideas that don’t make sense. She has the attitude of Skepticism. Her basic mental orientation is to ask, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

This works well as a combination — or at least it does now that we understand our different takes on life. I come up with nice ideas and she puts them to the test.  For example, let’s say we’re in a hospital: I can imagine the medical staff doing a great job, and look for signs to verify that. My wife, however, will point out all the things the staff are doing wrong.

The seven Attitudes

As with all ‘overleaves’ or personality components, there are seven possible types of Attitude — seven ways of framing life. You can probably relate to all of them to some extent, but your personality will be marked by one dominant Attitude.

The seven Attitudes with their positive and negative variants are as follows:

ATTITUDE POSITIVE NEGATIVE
1 Stoicism Tranquillity Resignation
2 Skepticism Investigation Suspicion
3 Cynicism Contradiction Denigration
4 Pragmatism Practicality Dogmatism
5 Idealism Coalescence Naïveté
6 Spiritualism Verification Credulity
7 Realism Perceptiveness Supposition

As ever, the seven options represent three pairs of polar opposites (Action pair, Expression pair, Inspiration pair) plus one neutral option (Assimilation).

Realism and Cynicism

Those who have an Action Attitude, either Realism or Cynicism, take a ‘wilful’ view of reality in terms of hard facts which can be acted upon. Both have a down-to-earth, solid, evidence-based approach reflecting what actually occurs in life, but in opposite ways.

  • Realists like to turn their experiences into “actionable knowledge”. They look at all the facts to assess the most plausible explanations and reasonable predictions. “The more facts we know, the better we can understand the past and predict the future.”
    • Positive = perceptiveness (making justifiable assessments, based on evidence).
    • Negative = supposition (making assessments unjustifiably, without evidence).
  • Cynics challenge non-facts; they refuse to be misled by bogus assertions. “Anything you say that isn’t a proven fact is nonsense.”
    • Positive = contradiction (criticising unlikely claims, with reason).
    • Negative = denigration (criticising unfairly, without reason).

Idealism and Skepticism

Those who have an Expression Attitude, either Idealism or Skepticism, take an intellectual/imaginative view of life in terms of ideas that can be, or have already been, expressed about it.

  • Idealists conceive of reality in terms of ideas that express a sense of great perfection or inherent possibilities. ” Truth is beauty, and beauty, truth.”
    • Positive = coalescence (generating ideas to make perfect sense of many things).
    • Negative – naïveté (assuming things makes perfect sense, without reason).
  • Skeptics refuse to accept false ideas, so they put dubious-sounding ideas to the test, or simply reject them outright. “I’ll believe it when I see it for myself.”
    • Positive = investigation (checking the validity of doubtful ideas)
    • Negative = suspicion (doubting unfairly, without checking)

Spiritualism and Stoicism

Those who have an Inspiration Attitude, either Spiritualism or Stoicism, give their lives a consistent emotional meaning or sense of order. They look for higher meanings or universal truths that have a consistent emotional quality.

  • Spiritualists make sense of life in whatever way brings greater comfort and joy – this usually means believing in something esoteric which gives life a higher meaning. “I believe everything happens for a reason.”
    • Positive = verification (ensuring personal beliefs fit with personal experiences).
    • Negative = credulity (willingness to believe anything esoteric, regardless of actual experience).
  • Stoics refuse to allow any experience of life to disturb their inner peace and calm. “There’s no need to get excited.”
    • Positive = tranquillity (regarding life experiences in a way that maintains inner peace and calm).
    • Negative = resignation (assuming suffering is inevitable, regardless of actual experience).

Pragmatism

Those who have the Assimilation Attitude don’t really care about viewing things this way or that way.

  • Pragmatists just take in whatever information is useful right now and then move on. “That’s all I need to know.”
    • Positive = practicality (finding what works in each new situation).
    • Negative = dogmatism (assuming, without reason, that whatever worked in the past will work now).

The prevalence of the Attitudes

The seven Attitudes are not equally prevalent in the population. The top three Attitudes are Realism, Idealism and Pragmatism:

Understand that none of these viewpoints is right or wrong. They are all limited and biased in their own ways, and they all have the potential to be used positively or negatively, but they are all valid and they all give life a consistent sense of meaning. Seen as working together, they provide a rich picture, a kind of tapestry view of life.

18 thoughts on “ATTITUDE: Your way of viewing life

  1. Where can I find more information on these attitudes? It seems I would have liked examples, either reality or fiction based, to better understand these attitudes.

  2. First I have to say this is the first I’ve ever researched personality, spirituality or anything of this nature in any real depth, but this is great. There is a wealth of information here. You are a smart guy, and I commend you. Also this is very well thought out and put together. My question is… I tend to look at the world as eyes from above. Almost like “god” looking down on his creation, or maybe not creation but just the equal existence of the universe or multiverse to my own mind. To explain what I mean by that, I look at the earth from its time as a collection of dust pulled into a huge gravitational void, to its journey through time and space to the huge gravitational void that is out galaxy, to finally around the our sun where it finally found a temporary peaceful resting place. I think of the world from its time as Pangea to our current continental construction, and its future. I never think of this time now as mattering much like most people. I look at the universe in the same way, only with much more mystery, and beyond that I look outside the universal plane, and try to look in on our universe from a multiverse. To put somewhat of a perspective on what I’m saying if I lost you in a ramble. If you have ever seen Men in Black, the first one, at the end the view pans out from the earth backing and backing from our solar system, then our galaxy, then further and further until it ends up that our universal existence only exists in the makeup of an atom or molecule in an aliens marble. This is just an example from a movie that I thought may be well known and most have probably seen which is why I used it. But it kind of gives somewhat of an idea of how I think and how I see things mostly everyday although I can’t ignore earthly realities, I think about these things more than most. I am however also very philosophical about life, as meaningless as it may seem to me sometimes, I also strive to see a great meaning to it. What do you think this says about me?

    • Deep inquisitive thinking is typical of Mature souls, especially around the middle of the cycle. Attitude can also come into play – with Spiritualism, one can see self and others as divine beings, while with Stoicism one can see self and others as specks of dust. One elevates, the other reduces.

    • Sounds indeed like a gap in perception, i.e. soul age levels. Generally speaking, if you and another differ by more than a whole cycle (e.g., one is mid-Mature, the other is early Young, or late Old), then it’s like radios working on different frequencies – it’s hard to find common ground.

  3. Great article! just what I was looking for, for my spirituality presentation on tomorrow (8/7/13) at an institution for the mentally challenged.
    Curnell

  4. My sister is definitely a pragmatist. It’s equally infuriating and amazing at the same time. Sometimes I can’t understand how laid back she can be about life and how simplistically she approaches problems. haha. Don’t know which I am though. Need to read more. 🙂

  5. Hello, this is very useful info. I’m trying to transform a core belief of powerlessness to powerful, but I need to find my attitude. Which of those attitudes do you think would cause someone to feel powerless as in “fate is uncontrollable, the soul is limited, you can’t change life, i’m a victim”?

    • That would be either the attitude of STOICISM in its more negative manifestation, or possibly the chief feature of MARTYRDOM.

      Stoicism focuses on the fact that not everything in life is under conscious control. Like anything else, this view of life can be taken positively or negatively. In its positive form, stoicism sees the whole universe at work in harmony, with oneself as a tiny but integral part of it (= tranquility, serenity). In its negative form, stoicism sees the universe as a jumble of forces which one is powerless to do anything about (= resignation to “fate”).

      Martyrdom (the martyr complex) is a defensive habit of portraying oneself as a victim, driven by a fear of worthlessness (“Don’t blame me if I get it wrong – its your fault”).

      Cheers

  6. Thank you so much for this amazing website. I have read every article & it has given me great insight & invaluable info.
    I have always struggled with people, not understanding the behaviours & feeling irritated daily. I did 6 yrs counseling to understand how my parents contributed to my “char. flaws” & then in year 2000 decided to start my Change to become compassionate & open-hearted.
    It’s 2015, I’m almost 50 & felt an urgency to hurry & finish up so I can reincarnate to something better; but I know I have so far to go/improve & it can’t all be done in this Life. Now your info shows I have another 7- 9 Lives.
    The only solace in that is I get a few years rest before I have to return.
    I am so tired of this Life & have felt a yearning to leave since I was 9 but I struggle through so I don’t have to repeat this & learn my Life’s lesson(s).
    I still can only deal with people in small doses, (preferring animals & nature), but the rage has diminished & I have many tools/coping skills to get through this.
    I will definitely refer to this site when I need clarity & a refresher as to why we behave as we do.

  7. Can I have two attitudes? I relate to Realistic and Spiritual (very different ones) but I don’t really know what is the definite one

    • Hi Melissa,

      We all have all seven attitudes, but tend to “sit” in one of them as our default way of viewing things.

      Think of it this way – the personality operates unconsciously, unless and until consciousness overrides the personality. So if Realism (say) is your personality’s habit, then that’s where you go automatically unless you are deliberately looking from other perspectives (such as the Spiritual).

      Hope that helps,

      B

  8. For each of the overleaves, it’s very clear which I am or which axis I am on. Here, however, I haven’t a clue. I read some other sources about it, too… Each and every one of the attitudes is like, Meh, who cares? Would this put me at Pragmatist? (I can’t really identify with that either.)

    • Heheh, sure, sounds about right. Only a pragmatist would see nothing of interest in the more “impractical” attitudes.

  9. I’ve thought and felt in ways consistent with all the stages and archetypes. How can it be?

    To me this feels illogical, however having experienced enough real life weirdness for me to think something else is going on here, I am interested.

    Infant, young, mature and old just sounds like the development of a person. Rather than their eternal soul. Are you saying you’re blue all day erryday? I started looking for signs to my soul colour in people’s t shirts.

    Me mate there a battle between red and blue .. purple keeps coming back bit of green and then you’ve got all the other colours coming and going.

    My personal Jaweeh told me not to smoke weed after I had been experiencing a crop of purple
    Wise old ladies in purple talking to me opening and blocking my path. Then against my own law went for a J with a mate and the bench we sat on was surrounded by shattered purple glass. I’m back on track now

    But the problem still remains.. sometimes I’m happy to shoot hoops and speak my truth other I want the sweet glory of becoming a published writer … some days I am free of suffering detached and content others I drown in confusion and flap around insignificant slip up?

    What’s the script Mike?

    How do you class yourself as something like a mature soul purely on outlook? How can identity, something I believe to be fairly transient in many respects, be hooked to something eternal such as cosmic reincarnation soul evolution etc?

    Your bud
    Adam

    • Hi Adam

      I’ve thought and felt in ways consistent with all the stages and archetypes. How can it be?

      In a sense, how can it not be? All of these potentials lie within us, and we are free to manifest whatever qualities we like (within the limits of our soul evolution). It might help if I jump straight to your last question.

      How can identity, something I believe to be fairly transient in many respects, be hooked to something eternal such as cosmic reincarnation soul evolution etc?

      At core we have a consistent quality of presence that is our essence, and which is slowly evolving in consciousness. But on a day-to-day level most people are completely unaware of that, or at least not in touch with it consciously. Most people, most of the time, readily identify themselves with the less consistent and more superficial levels of their ‘identity’ — their personality, their body, their appearance, their ego, even just fleeting thoughts and feelings.

      Let me try to convey the rich complexity at work.

      Ultimately we are all the same divine essence or creative power, The One. But The One has a bit of a mania for expressing and exploring itself through diversity and individuality.

      First, there’s the theme-and-variations of seven basic soul types.

      Second, there’s the absolutely unique identity of each soul (see Casting).

      Third, there’s the unique evolution of each soul’s consciousness through the soul ages.

      Fourth, there’s the personal sense of identity that comes from incarnating as a human being (different for each incarnation). With each incarnation, we adopt a specific set of “overleaves” or overlaying traits that make up our human personality, or at least those aspects of personality we have intended to use in this life for a given purpose.

      Finally, there are all the false impressions and ideas we hold about ourselves based on our upbringing, parental expectations, peer groups, life experiences, social trends, cultural context, as well as our own ego-based fears and fantasies.

      Infant, young, mature and old just sounds like the development of a person.

      The metaphor of the development of a person has been used as a way to describe the evolution of the soul’s consciousness through stages.

      But it is also the case that within each lifetime we cannot manifest our most evolved level of consciousness until we are about half-way through life. The unfamiliarity of each new life, together with the ‘veil of amnesia’ that incarnation brings, require us to climb up the ladder of consciousness each time from square one. By the time we are 35 or so, we have normally reached our peak and levelled out.

      I’m a Mature soul, for example. Now, I was originally told by a not-so-reliable channel that I was an Old soul, but intuitively I could tell that this was an error. I am mired in complex psychological issues which I am constantly striving to get to grips with. I can have “peak experiences” that match and even transcend the highest levels of the Old soul awareness, but peak experiences cannot be sustained by an operating system that isn’t designed for them. I am very clear that, as a very reliable channel told me, my current operating system is “version 4.5” (5th-level mature).

      Even so, I didn’t really start consciously acting like a Mature soul until I was 30 or so. In my 20s I thought and acted more like a Young soul, and in my childhood I thought and acted more like a Baby soul. The deeper wisdom of my soul was there, as is yours, but it is like an untapped unconscious potential while our attention is so totally focused on the business of growing up in a new and potentially unfamiliar family, location, culture and society.

      some days I am free of suffering detached and content others I drown in confusion and flap around…

      Me too. When I am in alignment with who I really am at the deepest level, joy bubbles out of me and my life unfolds swimmingly. But when I let myself get overly distracted by minor nitty-gritty problems, I tend to lose sight of who I am and become immersed in my feelings of frustration ad ineptitude. (My chief features of impatience and self-deprecation rule the show.) It can take me days to recover my sense of alignment. There are many, many techniques that can help us do that — self-enquiry, spiritual guidance, meditation, appreciation, surrender to the flow, communing with nature, etc…

      cheers

      Barry

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