Factors that influence our attitudes

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Factors that influence our attitudes

Monday, 10 June 2024 | Ravi Valluri

Factors that influence our attitudes

Fear and affection stem from experiences shaping human thoughts and emotions

The Mahabharata is one of the greatest epics essayed in the subcontinent, perhaps in the world. It is believed to have been recited by the sage Veda Vyasa with Lord Ganesha himself playing the role of meticulous scribe.

The saga captures variegated attitudes and heterogeneous characteristics of humans in both the gross and subtle form. Human attitudes and standpoints emerge in all shades of the spectrum, rather than in simple black, white and grey.

Attitude is all

Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu decides to test the waters and mollify the ego, arrogance and anger of the Kaurava scion- Duryodhana.

Social influences, overwrought emotions and environmental factors impinge upon human minds. Consequently, individual behavioural patterns become complex and often antipathetic in nature. The mind gets filled with cobwebs and nugatory thoughts and human attitudes towards self and others become ossified.

Duryodhana’s mind was prejudiced against his cousins and this attitude was fuelled by his scheming uncle Shakuni, sibling Dushasana and bosom friend and fabled archer, Karna. History is replete with examples of such discriminatory practices. The genocide committed by the Nazis in Germany against the hapless Jewish populace is a singular and extreme example of how prejudice leads to hatred, discrimination and mass extermination of sections of people and humanity.

Compassion: an efficacious attitude

Aeons ago an estimable Zen Master assembled several monks and novices for vigorous sessions of meditation. During one of these sessions a tutee was caught stealing by his colleagues. The guilty was produced before the Zen Master and all those present demanded that he be expelled from the Temple of Knowledge as an exemplary punishment. The Zen Master ignored the entreaties of the monks.

Once again, the pupil was caught stealing. This angered the assembly of monks who demanded that the culprit recompense the losses he caused so that it had a salutary influence on all the inhabitants of the monastery.

The Zen Master, after deep thought, forgave the troubled student, causing dismay among others. He believed the student lacked moral clarity while others had evolved through meditation. "I can't abandon him," the Master said. Touched, the student vowed to change, shedding his thieving ways to become a better person.

The consideration and compassion displayed by the Master was singularly responsible for this change. Psychologists opine that the inclination and slant of humans is immovably wedged in by certain predominant factors like the actor-observer effect arousal by various stimuli, attribution, balance maintained in day-to-day operations.

Likewise, the Zen tutee was overwhelmed by the tenderness and benevolence shown by the Master and he mutated into a better human being by eschewing the act of surreptitious pilferage.

Essentially human beings are social creatures and need to interact with and relate to others. This in turn shapes their attitudes and behavioural patterns. Individual attitudes evolve through a continuous learning process. Xenophobia and fondness are a result of various occurrences and their influence on the human mind. Impression formation takes place in a systematic manner and is exhibited as decent or indecent behaviour. The illustrious American business honcho, Harold S Geneen was to famously say, “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and in action.”

(The writer is the CEO of Chhattisgarh East Railway Ltd.and Chhattisgarh East West Railway Ltd. He is a faculty of the Art of Living; views are personal)

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