We may not be able to choose our thoughts directly, but we can certainly choose our attitudes.
Our attitudes are extremely powerful filters…
A positive attitude filters out negative thoughts and invites positive thoughts, while a negative attitude rejects positive thoughts and invites negative thoughts to enter uninvited.
And so, our attitudes, positive or negative, have the power to create either an upward spiral of optimism… or a downward spiral of pessimism… spirals that tend to be self-sustaining and grow over time, for better or worse.
Anyway, the good news is this: Our attitude is a choice, a choice that sets the tone for all the associations that we make as life and all its unpredictable frustrations and joys unfolds.
And so, an essential practice is to begin each musical encounter, whether in practice or performance, with a positive affirmation appropriate to the occasion… something that can quickly put you in the right frame of mind and heart… something short and sweet… something that you can verbalize internally or at a whisper before your start to play… something like “Smile”, “Have fun!”, “Celebrate”, “Gratitude”… to name but a few.
Over time, through reflection, practice, and careful attention to what we pay attention to, we can cultivate a purely positive attitude toward music and life until it becomes second nature. Importantly, such an accomplishment is not merely some clever technique, but becomes a fundamental and enduring part of who we are as human beings.