by Kathryn Defatta
When I was a kid, I signed up for every team possible. I’ve participated in dance, cheerleading, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, swimming, cross country, and tennis. If it was available, I thought I could do it. As kids, we have the privilege of living in a somewhat magical world. A world where anything is possible and limitations do not exist. We all remember the excitement of signing up for a team and the butterflies at the beginning of each new game. We tended to try new things simply because we had blind faith and confidence in ourselves.
Nevertheless, we all grew up at some point. The magic inevitably fades and the, “I can do anything!” mentality takes a hit each time we label something as a failure (despite the fact those failures teach us how to grow). As I got older, I started signing up for less and less. I became someone who lived in my comfort zone and focused on perfecting what I already knew I was good at.
“There is no way I can do that,” became a staple phrase in my life. For so many of us, this is called life. We joke about #adulting, when really the magic is just gone. The simple childlike belief in ourselves dwindles away. Fortunately, as easy as it is to think we’ve lost it; we can get it back.
It is important to experience things in life that make us feel small. Like standing under a redwood tree or sitting quietly to view the sunset. These moments will wake you up in a positive way. They encourage adventure. They bring back your bright and innocent views of the world.
One day, I woke up and decided to challenge myself. I wish I could say it was a graceful shift from being stuck to finding my power, but it was not a simple transition. When I decided that I wanted to stretch outside of my comfort zone I did the only thing I knew to do – Googled everything. With that, I became increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of trends, information, and options offered to the public that promised goal oriented results.
Google it yourself. In 2017 alone, some of the most highly searched health and fitness trends were Murph Crossfit, apple cider vinegar diet, tabata workout, plant based diet, Tom Brady diet, and the Ketogenic diet. With all these options, which one do you pick? Well, I picked everything. If there was a product that told me I’d be better, I bought it.
Even though I was unintentionally learning more about myself, I also learned the problem with trends – they change. My route to success became quite exhausting and self-defeating. I was hungry for something long term and my way was obviously not working.
After a lot of failure, I started seeing a licensed therapist who helped me realize that my growth had to be about something bigger than a trend I found online. Thus, my advice? Recognize this – you internally hold everything you need to reach your goals. Insert PMA.
The human mind possesses the capability to create something that is more powerful than any fad diet or new workout plan. Thousands of studies have shown that a key (and possibly the key) component of success is attitude. More specifically, Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), in regards to goals and capabilities. Meaning, you control your attitude, therefore, you control your success. Your future is literally in the hands of your own mind.
So, what is PMA exactly? By definition, it is the philosophy that having an optimistic outlook on any situation attracts positive changes and increases achievement. PMA is considered an internal focus of control that influences external factors. In other words, you control the outside matter through your internal resolve. PMA is basically the childlike magic we lose from years of repeating negative thoughts. In its simplest term, it is optimistic disposition.
There has been a lot of dialogue around the power of PMA. By no means is it a replacement for hard work, nor does it promise that thinking positively will make you a professional athlete overnight. This philosophy is more than positive thinking – it is creating meaning out of our circumstances. PMA ideology says that we are not in control of the cards we are dealt in life. We are only in control of how we play them. Sometimes it can simply comes down to the stories we choose to tell ourselves.
In Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he points out a commonality in those who lived through the Holocaust. Survivors were not necessarily the strongest or smartest, but created meaning out of their experience. Their mental strength carried them through the physical and emotional trauma. Comparable to extreme athletes that participate in high intensity activities, they too believe that physical ability is not the entire battle. Focusing on why we do what we do and believing in one’s self often perpetuates achievement.
Finding your personal PMA is like growing a muscle. It takes effort, attention, and habit. People don’t generally wake up one day deciding to be optimistic and poof, they see the silver lining in everything. You, yourself, can start developing the PMA muscle with these five tips.
1. Be intentional about your goals and make sure they are your goals. It is hard to stay positive through trials when you are working towards something you don’t actually care about. Find your purpose!
2. Be nice to yourself! Please. Recent studies have shown that participants who use positive affirmations through a workout compared to a group who said negative things to themselves rated the workout as easier and performed at higher levels. Remind yourself you are doing a great job, and do this often.
3. Turn your foresight into hindsight. Entrepreneur, Aubrey Marcus says, “In hindsight we are clearly able to see the purpose in our failures and disappointments. In hindsight, we are almost always grateful.” So try starting with gratitude and bypass a lot of anxiety. Be thankful. If we are can realize, in time, we will be grateful for our perceived misfortune, then we are sure to grow and reflect on the experience in a positive manner.
4. “Focus on your elbows,” my uncle, a personal trainer and avid long distance runner, told me this once. PMA is about focusing on what you do have and not what you don’t. Maintaining a positive attitude requires us to put more value in our strengths than our weaknesses. Just think, you’ll always have strong elbows.
5. Replace the idea of needing motivation with whether or not something is important to you. There are days when we don’t feel like doing one more rep, but it is important to challenge ourselves because that is how we get better. There are days when we don’t have the motivation to cook dinner, but it is important to fuel our bodies. Motivation tends to become an excuse that whispers, “you aren’t worth it,” at your most vulnerable moments. But, guess what? You are definitely worth it.
Remember, we each have the power to collectively change our mindset. And mindset is everything. It’s how we wake up in the morning. It’s how we go about our day – deciding what foods to eat and what things to say. It is the community we choose. It is our scattered thoughts and self talk. Positivity is magic. Magic can be reintroduced into adulthood. The majority of magic is simply believing! And believing in ourselves renders a positive attitude. We create our own mentality and hold the power to change it at any time.