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The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine states that the largest part to your overall health is from your mental health. Having positive mental health gives us the motivation to do our best that we can and always striving to do better (Murray, Michael & Pizzorno, and Joseph: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)(pgs. 17-19)(Revised 2nd Edition); Three River Press, New York.). Seeing the brighter side of things instead of the bad is just one way you can help your positive mental health. Keeping your thoughts positive will assist you in talking more positive. Positive people influence others to get into a healthier positive mental state of health. When a person is mentally healthy they are more equip to deal with reality and adapt to changes in a positive way. With good mental health comes good emotional as well as intellectual health, which aides in the problem solving of life events (Health the Basics, Pearson, 10th ed. pg29).
Positive Mental Attitude has been touched upon since the concept of free will, but the concept was first developed and introduced in 1937 by Napoleon Hill in the book Think and Grow Rich. The book never actually uses the term, but develops the importance of positive thinking as a principle to success. He, along with W. Clement Stone, later wrote Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude which defines positive mental attitude as "The right mental attitude... comprised of the 'plus' characteristics symbolized by such words as faith, integrity, hope, optimism, courage, initiative, generosity, tolerance, tact, kindliness and good common sense."
Positive mental attitude (PMA) is the philosophy that having an optimistic disposition in every situation in one's life attracts positive changes and increases achievement. It employs 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.
A positive mental attitude is developed by constant reinforcement of one’s goals, positive values and beliefs. Optimism and hope are vital to the development of PMA. One technique for positive reinforcement is with the use of "self-talk" such as the quote, “I feel happy. I feel healthy. I feel terrific.” A variety of other techniques have been created over the years such as motivational posters, daily devotionals, accountability partners, and cause wristbands. Learning to control one’s emotions is a key part to developing and maintaining PMA so as to expel the negative thoughts and feelings that could influence your actions and behavior.
PMA is under the umbrella of Positive Psychology. In positive psychology high self-efficacy can help someone to gain learned optimism which ultimately leads to PMA. PMA is considered an internal locus of control that influences external factors. Research has shown that through emotional intelligence training and positive psychology therapy one's attitudes and perceptions can be modified to improve their personal and professional life. Someone with PMA is considered likely to treat others with unconditional positive regard, a method of client-centered therapy developed by humanist psychologist Carl Rogers.
Just as self-talk is often used to remind oneself of groceries they need to buy, it is used by athletes and business people to stay focused on the goal at hand. Positive affirmations are examples of self-talk. They are statements that are used to convince oneself that they are more capable and can exceed the limitations they previously perceived. This has been greatly emphasized by coaches and managers alike to help create a PMA in their players and salespeople.
The self-help industry was pioneered by Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack and made popular by Napoleon Hill’s books as well as Dale Carnegie and his lectures and books. Now an entire industry of self-help books and motivational speakers such as Og Mandino and Tony Robbins are available. PMA is a main theme in most of the inspirational writings which have influenced the sales industry, especially in door-to-door sales and direct marketing businesses. Self-help material along with self-talk help employers to shape their employees to be more resilient to failure and become more positive and energetic salespeople.
Some of the greatest examples of PMA spur from athletes who are masters of focusing on a goal and tirelessly working toward it. A study of MLB players indicated that a key component that separates MLB players from the minor leagues and all other levels is their ability to develop mental characteristics and mental skills. Among them were mental toughness, confidence, maintaining a positive attitude, dealing with failure, expectations, and positive self-talk. This has also been the testimony of many athletes such as Olympic star Steve Prefontaine and NFL star Tom Dempsey.
Many studies have been done regarding PMA and its effects on health, specifically with people of serious illnesses such as cancer and kidney disease. Cancer specifically has received a lot of attention since Lance Armstrong, along with other survivors, have given their stories. People with PMA have a significantly higher chance of survival and recovery. A study comparing people with chronic kidney disease with people kidney disease free showed that there was a significant difference between the groups. The kidney disease free group rated much higher in PMA. There was no difference found in spirituality and females with chronic kidney disease were found to be significantly more superstitious. A study done with HIV-positive individuals found that a high health self-efficacy, a task-oriented coping style, and a positive mental attitude were strong predictors or a health-promoting lifestyle which has a significant affect on overall health (coping and surviving).
PMA is very closely related to faith. Religion plays an important role in the PMA of some people, since attending various religious services provides a community-like feeling for social support. Having like-minded people to give support is shown to provide health benefits.
Many people discredit PMA, saying that it is not the secret to success but a result from success. If someone allows themselves to experience life then they will gain an awareness of which a positive attitude is a by-product. Others argue that PMA is simply the placebo effect in action, one’s mental and physical states change due to their expectation. There is also a great deal of criticism toward the “self-help” industry, arguing that it is a scam for authors to make money. This is often due to the simplistic nature of the writing and the principles. However many of the books are available for free and ordered in bulk by companies who provide them to their employees. Although many have made careers off of self-help books, life coaching, and motivational speaking, there is little evidence to show such books to be harmful.