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How has a single experience changed your attitude forever?

I'm a strong believer that true attitude changes can only happen through experience. Some experiences are only a few seconds long, but hit you so hard you will never be the same again. These experiences can be near-death experiences, a brief conversation with a passing stranger, the loss or gain of a loved one, maybe you got fired or a customer rejected you, or even just reading a book. I would love to hear your experiences.

  • Feb 12 2013: I was 22 or 23. I planned my own suicide very carefully and deliberately. I put my head in a small trash bin and then wrapped a plastic bag around it and held it tight with my hand around my neck. Evidently when I lost consciousness my grip on the plastic bag must have loosened and I woke up unharmed. At that moment I understood that I had always posed the greatest threat to myself, not the world around me and decided to take it easy, go with the flow and keep my expectations at an absolutely low ebb. I am 50 now, thankful to be around and am still faithful to that take-a step-back-attitude.
  • Feb 11 2013: The thing that changed my attitude, profoundly, towards myself and my own life, as well as towards my family and their/our dynamic and psychology was my belated diagnosis, at the age of 53, of the genetic condition Marfan Syndrome. Several members of my family had already died without this being known.
    Correct diagnosis can be life-changing. There actually was a great deal of suffering caused by the non-diagnosis. It is true one can learn from suffering, greatly, but so much? Deaths could have been avoided, and quality of life so much improved.
    I would like to add, as I am English and the majority of TED contributors appear to be from the USA, that the US is progressive in understanding such a condition/illness, compared to the UK. I am indebted to the dedicated Marfan doctors in the US, and also the National Marfan Forum (US) and their Internet site - without which there is a probability I still might not know.
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      Feb 11 2013: Was this "attitude" changing in a sudden manner? Or was it more "action and habit" changing?
      • Feb 13 2013: It was mostly an internal change. More than anything I now felt validated...I could really believe in myself . I am outwardly more confident now, it is quite noticeable .
        And no it wasn't sudden but gradual. I was stunned and quiet for at least 5 months. I am still changing, perhaps one always does.
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    Feb 12 2013: If my attitude has changed, it has changed incrementally. I am very unsure if the process of change has stopped or it is still happening.
    I have the experience of experiencing multitudes of experiences, from small to profound, sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touches - so many events and so gradually that I could hardly notice when I started to see the world so differently from what I used to. The dots (and numerous of them) formed a painting of my world where no one color, no one single pattern makes a separate sense but the meaning of it all emerge as a whole.
    Without anybody telling me I started noticing resonances of thoughts from every direction. I am nothing but a huge connectome, a giant network of connections for 51 years of my existence such that I am totally incapable of taking out a single branch, be it a whole story or a single alphabet, and can say : yes, this changed my attitude for good, if not forever.
    I am being completely honest so pardon my nonsensical description.
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    Feb 12 2013: He told me to prepare to die, so I did. He was certainly capable of doing that. This left me with a choice. My choice was, did I want to die terrified or did I want to die at peace. I chose peace. At that moment, I had a flash of awareness that was so HUGE and so profound that my life was forever changed. The man who was about to kill me suddenly turned around and walked away - leaving me unharmed. At that moment, I understood the answer to so many questions I had asked in life. My whole life had been spent living inside-out and upside-down. I was never the same again.
    • Feb 12 2013: Fascinating experience. I too have had similar insights. For my job I do a lot of travelling by plane, and whenever turbulence hits I tend to get pretty nervous. But over time I am conditioning myself out of this response and I do it by following this line of reasoning:
      What's the worst that can happen?
      I will die.
      So if I die, do I want to die terrified and unhappy? Or do I want to just accept it and go peacefully?
      This actually then makes me think that the worst that could happen is I die being terrified, or I even waste my time being terrified when I'm not really going to die at all.

      Grace if you wouldn't mind, could you please contact me as I would like to speak to you a bit more about this experience.
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      Feb 12 2013: Grace,

      Interesting. I have heard it said that fear comes with the expectation of death and peace with the certainty of it. I wonder if that is what you experienced.
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    Feb 11 2013: G’day Jamie

    I’m a logical thinking person so when I experienced ghosts/spirits first hand that opened my mind up to so many possibilities thank God otherwise I wouldn’t be as open minded as I am now.

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    • Feb 12 2013: Hi Reine,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. If you feel comfortable, would you mind sending me a private message with your email address? Your account cannot receive private messages and I would really like to contact you to find out more about your experience.
    • Feb 12 2013: Hey Reine de violettes,

      I got your message and I just tried to reply to you but I don't know if it got through. As for allowing private messages, if you go to your account, then in the top right corner click 'Edit Main Profile', this will take you to another page and if you look at the preferences box on the right, check 'Yes' for 'Can other members contact you?'. Hopefully that should do the trick.
  • Feb 11 2013: Thanks everyone so far for the great responses!

    Leo, I mean any experience that has altered the way someone lives. It could be changing from positive to negative or vice versa, it could have changed someone's behaviour and actions, it could have even changed their personality. I am interested in how experience shapes us.

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      Feb 12 2013: Got it. I believe that happens all the time. It might be modifying the way we drive to seeing a competitor product on sale, purchasing it, and then changing buying habits. Some of that might be chance as to why it happened and then the development or changing of habits.

      It is an interesting topic. Why do some things change us immediately (perhaps a near death experience) and other things (like losing weight) take quite a bit more?.
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    Feb 11 2013: Jamie,

    Let me ask a question to clarify. Do you mean attitude as in, from a happy state to a sad state? (or vs versa) Or do you mean perhaps personality changing? OR do you mean more habit and action changing? eg, diet, exercise, spend time with the family.
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    Feb 11 2013: My experiences that hit hard did not change attitude necessarily, but actions. eg. Several years ago at a party a mans wife asked me to dance because he would not. This occurred in front of him and he had no problem so I agreed. A few minutes later he did have a problem and stopped the dance. I felt terrible and learned to adjust actions. But this did not affect attitude as much except in regards to negative emotions in regards to dancing.... More of a transitory emotional state.

    The long term attitude you may be referring to can be pinpointed to an experience, but the experiences I recall seem to be more of "the final straw" for example in many cases we may contemplate losing weight and we think about it, but it is that one time that we cannot fit into our jeans (or something) that gets us over the edge.

    I did have a near death experience and it is interesting to think and believe "I am going to die" But for me it did not change me. A lot of adrenalin, fear, and resolve to go back and get back on the horse (scuba diving accident) but for me no other attitude changes.
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    Feb 11 2013: The birth of each child, but particularly the first, made a profound difference in my life.
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    Feb 11 2013: Doesn't the word "forever" mean it will remain unchanged in the future? I think it does so the answer must be "NO". How can I predict the future? The best I can say is many experiences have changed my attitude about many things.