The virtues of a positive mental attitude are well documented. Search for the phrase and Google will helpfully offer up 469,000 results. With many books and blog posts extolling its virtues, it’s not a new or a unique concept. PMA, however, has special meaning for me.
Positive mental attitude is the philosophy that having an optimistic disposition in every situation in one's life attracts positive changes and increases achievement. Adherents employ a state of mind that continues to seek, find and execute ways to win, or find a desirable outcome, regardless of the circumstances. It opposes negativity, defeatism and hopelessness. Optimism and hope are vital to the development of PMA. – Wikipedia
There’s that acronym: PMA. Doctors diagnosed me with osteomyelitis in 1987 after I had difficult walking. I would be in the hospital for a long time, and endure massive doses of antibiotics and the accompanying IV changes. My path to recovery was not certain. My grandmother, Clara Pierson, brought me a plush moose. His name? PMA (puh-ma), or Positive Mental Attitude. It was a daily affirmation that I needed to lift my chin and think positively. No matter how despondent I felt, PMA was there. He reminded me that a positive attitude would help me far more than a negative one.
My story has a happy ending. I recovered fully (and wrote about the whole experience here) and went on to enjoy using my legs for all kinds of active pursuits: skiing, running and racquetball. PMA had done his duty, but his tour was not yet over. PMA has been called to action many times after I married. He wears a set of cards around his neck to document the reasons for his travels: osteomyelitis, tonsillectomy, hernias, births, heart surgery, cancer surgery and therapy, hand surgery, eye surgery, knee replacements, Guillian-Barre Syndrome and all manner of injuries to toes and ankles. At the time of this writing, his cards tell the stories of no fewer than 50 times where he’s been there for someone.
The psychological factor is one that our society is just beginning to understand. I remember reading The Secret, whose premise is that truly believing something true will eventually deliver that truth. In other words, thinking positively will bring about positive things. Some medical research delves into Positive Mental Attitude, where it has been shown to aid cancer recovery, and where the concepts of hope and spirituality were correlated with chronic kidney disease sufferers undergoing hemodialysis. In sports, it’s been shown that those who succeed have the tools of mental toughness, positive attitude and positive self-talk in their toolbox.
Critics of Positive Mental Attitude? Bah.
I got a lot of cards, flowers and balloons!
PMA has his critics, who say that positive mental attitude is a byproduct of success, not a contributing factor. It’s an area that surely warrants more study. It would be amazing if there’s a way for us to harness the benefits of PMA for people who are suffering.
A positive mental attitude did not stem from amazing things happening to me as a boy in a hospital bed. I thought negative thoughts. I felt scared. The ability to focus on something positive made all of the difference for me. A positive mental attitude helped me see myself getting better, and I did.