Finally posting this incoherent post because I am tired of looking at it in my drafts
Recently, I sat through a meeting I didn't really want to be at. I noticed that the person who required me to be there wasn't attending the meeting. When I asked where they were I was told they were on a skiing vacation in Europe. I thought, "that's a nice life if you can get it." There are two different roads I could go down after that comment. And two different types of people that will take one of those two roads. I could be resentful of their life and think about how lucky they were, or I could take a positive attitude and see their life as an accomplishment. I could have given blame or praise to external things and not individual agency. If I thought this way I would not be taking personal responsibility for my life while not giving them personal credit for theirs.
We encounter these two types of people often: those who think life happens to them and those who think they create the life they have. From my experience the later tend to be more successful and happier. There are all sorts of platitudes about this phenomenon. You can make complaints or you can make changes. Is the glass half empty or half full? People who let themselves be defined by their circumstances and people who make the best of every situation.
Telling the two apart
We can tell a lot about the attitude a person has by they language they use and their reactions to events. Do they complain a lot? Do they consider other people's success as a threat or a commentary on their own failures. They use entitled language and talk about how they deserve things. For example: If a friend wins something the response will be one of negativity that good things only happen to other people. A positive person would genuinely celebrate the other persons success even if it was unearned. Positive people talk about opportunities not obstacles.
Life is complicatedObviously, life is a mix of both things you control and those you don't. We have all heard the serenity prayer.
Many things in life we cannot control: from the qualities of our birth to perhaps a freak accident. But what we can control is our reaction.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.