A mother was ready for a few minutes of relaxation after a long and demanding day. However, her young daughter had other plans for her mother's time.

"Read me a story, Mommy," the little girl pleaded.

"Give Mommy a few minutes to relax. Then I'll be happy to read you a story," the mother replied.

But the little girl was insistent that Mommy read to her now. Hoping to buy a few precious minutes, the mother tore off the back page of the magazine she was reading. It contained a full-page picture of the world. She ripped it into several pieces and told her daughter to put the picture back together, and then she would read her a story.

A short time later, the little girl announced the completion of her puzzle project. To her astonishment, the mother found the world picture completely assembled. When she asked her daughter how she managed to do it so quickly, the little girl explained that on the reverse side of the page was the picture of a little girl. "You see, Mommy, when I got the little girl together, the whole world came together."

Each of us has the responsibility to put our world together. It starts by getting ourselves put together. We can become better parents, friends, spouses and ­employers. The first step is adjusting our attitude.

Webster's dictionary defines attitude as a "mental position." Successful companies and employees take the position that change is positive and challenge is good. They accept their environment and look for opportunities. And opportunities are everywhere. It just depends on your attitude. Change can be difficult, or it can be exciting. You get to decide, so make sure your attitude puts you in the winner's circle.

Winners are positive and believe in themselves. They are committed and don't easily give up. They take charge of their own attitude, instead of letting it take charge of them. Success and happiness depend as much on your attitude as on your resources and advantages. To develop the right mind-set, keep these precepts front and center:

Control: Ultimately, the only control you have in life is over your thoughts, actions, responses and behaviors. Don't obsess over what you can't control. Concentrate on what you can.

Positivity: Stop yourself when you feel negative thoughts beginning to dominate your mind. Instead, ask yourself what could be the best or worst that could happen. Then plan your response accordingly. Surround yourself with positive people, and see how quickly your own attitude changes.

Results: It's easy to fall into routines and patterns that emphasize the process instead of the outcome. Learn the rules, but apply them with an eye on what you want to achieve.

Gratitude: You'll stay positive if you remind yourself of what you already possess. Every day, spend some time thinking about your health, family, friends and advantages, instead of focusing single-mindedly on what you lack.

Example: Realize that you are setting an example for those around you. Attitudes are contagious, and you will be a welcome carrier of this condition!

The good news is that anyone, absolutely anyone, can improve his or her attitude. As so often happens, we can draw the greatest inspiration for attitude adjustments from those who seem to have had the greatest obstacles to ­overcome.

El Capitan is a granite wall in California's Yosemite National Park that shoots 3,000 feet straight into the air. Mark Wellman is the only paraplegic in the world to have climbed El Capitan. It takes good rock climbers four days. It took Wellman seven.

After Wellman reached the top, journalists asked him how he did it.

Wellman's reply was, "I never thought of it as two-thirds of a mile. I thought of it as 7,000 6-inch climbs."

Mackay's Moral: No ­platitudes about attitude, just think positive!

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail harvey@mackay.com.