Attitudes are a big part of life. They affect our feelings, impact our productivity and determine the quality of our relationships. We should never underestimate their power. When attitudes are improved, all parts of our lives improve.

What is an attitude? It's the way we think about something or someone, and the emotions that go along with these thoughts.

Attitudes are carried inside of us, but are eventually projected on to the people around us. They spill out through our words, our verbal tones, our non-verbal behavior, and our actions. Attitudes can't be hidden forever. They always come out — good or bad. They always leak into our interactions and conversations.

When attitudes are expressed, they prompt a response or reaction from others. They can be contagious. They can build up or tear down, bless or curse, strengthen or weaken, lighten or weigh down, bring peace or produce pressure, unify or divide. Attitudes are never neutral in their impact. They make a difference. They saturate people and places, and change them for better or worse.

There's nothing quite like being in an environment where people have positive attitudes. Positive attitudes produce a positive atmosphere. Life, relationships, momentum and morale improve significantly when our attitudes improve.

Because attitudes are so powerful, Satan works hard to soil and sour them in us. He enjoys messing them up, because one bad attitude goes a long way. It goes viral, and the result is ugly. Think about it. How many days are ruined, how much productivity is lost, how much pain is caused all because of one person spilling contaminated attitudes on to others?

How do we make sure we're never that person? How do we manage our attitudes in ways that please God and benefit the people around us?

Here are 5 simple things we can do to keep good attitudes:

1. Set a goal.

It begins with desire. What kind of reputation do you want with others? Do you want to be known as a complaining, grumbling, discontented, divisive, arrogant or negative person? Or would you prefer to be known as the opposite? What kind of person do you want to be?

Set the goal to be a person who's known for their incredibly good and positive attitudes.

2. Remember that attitudes are adjustable.

Attitudes aren't fixed forever. They're not unchangeable. They're adjustable. They can change, and they can change quickly, if you want them to change and are willing to work to change them. You're not doomed to a life of bad attitudes. Your personality can be improved. But you must be willing to make the improvements.

3. Accept responsibility.

We all have a tendency to claim credit for the good and place blame for the bad. This is very true when it comes to our attitudes.

Most people blame bad attitudes on others, or on hard and unpleasant circumstances. While people can be “pills,” and life circumstances can be terribly tough at times, neither of these determines your attitudes. How you think about, respond or react to these things is what determines your attitudes. No one or nothing can “make you” have bad attitudes. You and I do this to ourselves.

To keep good attitudes we have to own responsibility for them. We have to consciously choose the right thoughts and responses to other people who attack, irritate, frustrate or agitate us. We have to consciously choose the right thoughts and responses to the trials and tribulations we're going through.

Blame is always easier, but it doesn't build character. Blaming places responsibility on the people and things your can't control. Growth happens when we focus on ourselves — on the things we're responsible for and can control.

4. Appreciate and affirm.

This is one of the fastest ways to improve your attitudes, and one of the best ways to keep them in a good place. Look for and think about the blessings in your life. Pay attention to the kindness God has shown you. Express your gratitude to God and others.

When others attempt to infect you with their ugly attitudes, be prepared to be positive. Don't buy into the bad stuff others are peddling. Affirm the good. Bless instead of curse. Be an ambassador of hope, love, joy, faith, unity and harmony, humility and peace. Don't get dragged into the cesspool others may be swimming in. Keep your head up, and more importantly, keep your heart up!

5. Ask for God's help.

Consistently demonstrating good attitudes requires a source of strength outside of ourselves. We need God's help. We need the power of His Holy Spirit. We need His grace.

The good news is that God promises to give us the power of His Spirit, if we'll simply ask Him for this gift. The Bible tells us what happens when the Holy Spirit takes control of us.  He produces wonderful, supernatural fruit in us: ” … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (See Galatians 5:22.) Talk about good attitudes. It doesn't get any better than this!

Also ask God to help you with anything that's making you anxious or afraid. When we're troubled, our attitudes are adversely affected. Turn your worry list into a prayer list. Turn every problem over to God and trust Him to take care of it all. (See Philippians 4:6-8 for some important instructions and promises from God about this.)

Practice these 5 things and you'll be amazed at the difference they will make in your attitudes. You'll be happier, and the people around you will be blessed!

Dale O'Shields