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The 5 Myths of Positive Mental Attitude

Photo by Children At Risk Foundation
A positive mental attitude is the starting point of all riches, whether they be riches of a material nature or intangible riches. ~Napoleon Hill

Okay, so there’s no myth that I am a positive person, or at least striving to be one. However, I am aware that I’m not positive all the time. I am continuously working to become conscientious of my choices, thoughts and reactions. I frequently get asked about positive thinking, and I wanted to first clear up some points of confusion.

Positive people are not living like Pollyanna in some dream world with no hold on reality. Positive people may have an attitude like Pollyanna, but they are not necessarily unrealistic. Positive person are very capable of understanding the reality of a cynic. They just change their mindset to see the reality from a different perspective.

With so many myths about positive mental attitude (PMA), it’s important to separate the truth from the fiction. Let’s explore some of these myths and dive into the truths behind them.


Myth #1: Negative thinking is more realistic.

Have you ever heard a negative person say that they aren’t negative; they’re just being ‘realistic’? This myth keeps people locked in a negative reality of their own creation.

A person’s thoughts, whether positive or negative, do have an effect on their environment. If you think negatively, your mind will automatically seek out confirmation that the world is a terrible place. Seeing is believing, and your mind reinforces your belief that reality is negative. See how it’s a downward spiral of negativity? If you expect negative results, you are less likely to take risks and try new things. Negative thinking masks your impressions in fear.

Positive thinking works the same way. With a positive mental attitude, you’ll seek out positive choices and expect positive results. This helps you move past fear and try things that others may believe “can’t be done”. This typically end in positive results.

A person’s thinking helps determine their reality. Negative thinking is realistic for the negative thinker, but only because their thoughts make it true. Ironically, the positive thinking also sees reality, just in a different light. Both types of people see their own reality, and both consider it the reality.


Myth #2: People with a PMA expect moneybags to fall out of the sky if they wish for them.

Those who don’t believe in positive thinking imagine that positive thinkers expect that their desire will manifest itself if they simply think positively about it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Everyone who accomplishes anything – whether it’s earning a million dollars or becoming an award-winning actor – accomplish it the same way: by taking action. Positive people have an edge because they believe the object of their desire is attainable. They come from a ‘can-do’ mindset. Their actions are not based on fear or scarcity, but based on possibilities. Thus, a positive attitude helps a person manifest their desires, not simply by dreaming about it, but by inspiring the person to take action.

It’s the action behind the attraction that makes the dream come true.


Myth #3: Positive thinking doesn’t change reality

People who believe this myth see a problem and believe that positive thinking will only ignore the ugliness of their reality. The truth is positive thinking doesn’t ignore the problem; it helps you see the problem in a new light. In fact, you don’t even see ‘problems’ as problems. Think about it; regardless of how you react to an external situation, the situation will still be the same. If being upset doesn’t change the outcome of a past situation, wouldn’t it serve you, and your health, to see the positives?

A positive mental attitude creates a mindset of abundance, enthusiasm, and solutions. Instead of thinking about what can’t be done, a positive thinker will not be constrained by ‘can’ and ‘cannot.’ A positive thinker is free to think of new ways to solve problems because they are not limited by fear of failure. When we are in a state of abundance, we provide a fertile ground for possibilities and making dreams a reality. We are in a state of allowance, openly accepting the gifts of life to flow to us. When I realized this principle and shifted my thinking habits, miracles started popping up in my life.

A positive mental attitude can – and indeed does – change reality by allowing a person to act in an entirely different way, thus harvesting entirely different results.

Successful men become successful only because
they acquire the habit of thinking in terms of success.

Napoleon Hill


Myth #4: Positive thinkers have no clue about the real world.

It’s easy to believe that people with a positive mental attitude have perfect lives and never dealt with real world hardships. Maybe people wouldn’t be so positive if they’d endured a few difficult times in their lives. But the truth is that this is really just a justification for negative thinking.

I don’t know a positive person who hasn’t had real and serious trials in their lives. They’ve faced disappointment, death of loved ones, physical handicap, and pretty much the range of human experiences we all deal with. The difference is that these people didn’t let those experiences change their outlook. A positive mental attitude means that you are in control of your own thoughts and feelings.

Responsibilities = our abilities to control our responses.”
– paraphrasing Steven Covey

Every person has sorrows and trials that test them to the core, but only some people have the courage to act positively and with grace. A positive mental attitude doesn’t mean a person has sidestepped a hard life. It simply means they choose to see and take part in the good things life has to offer, as opposed to only the negative.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl an extraordinary Holocaust survivor talks about finding happiness and purpose while in a Nazi concentration camp. In his book, he argues that “we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


Myth #5: People with a PMA are annoying and cheesy.

Okay, let’s admit it, some types of positive people are a little cheesy. We’re talking about the kind who spout platitudes and expect everything to be perfect no matter what. But truly positive people aren’t Tony Robbins infomercials. Positive people have real thoughts and have setbacks and discouragement just like everyone else, but they are also resilient and look for ways to stay positive. And that’s not cheesy, it’s just healthy thinking! And smart living!

Truly positive people do not expect perfection, but rather, they expect that every event is the best thing that could have happened in that moment. It is the only event that happened in that moment. Now that you’re considering the event, that moment has past. You cannot go back and change the moment, so you have to accept what happened was the best, and move on to the next moment.

Even in external circumstances that seem out of our control, we can always control is our internal response. In fact, it’s the only thing we have absolute control over.



Final Thoughts …

I genuinely believe that every moment is a gift, thus regardless of what is happening, it is perfect. There is always a gift, or lesson, to be taken away from that moment. I suspect that some of you are instantly thinking about death scenarios. “What is there to gain from death?”, you ask. Life is full of birth and deaths, this is reality. When death and change happens, we have to embrace reality, pick up and handle it to the best of our abilities. When this happens, we will gain different lessons due to our own stories, but perhaps the lesson could be:

  • a realization to spend more time with your family
  • to give people more respect
  • to realize that life is limited and that you should go after your dreams
  • [insert your own lessons and realizations]

Please note that when I speak about death, I’m not just referring to death of a person or animal, but rather death of time, of change. Most of us instinctively resist change and hang on to the past with dear life. If you think about it, we are experiencing birth and death constantly, every moment consists of them; with each new moment, it is the death of the last moment and a birth for the current moment. That’s it. Embrace it with grace.

Next time you perceive that something crappy is happening to you, instead of reacting with anger and frustration, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where is the gift in this situation?
  • What did I learn from it?
  • So what? What can you do now? (If the moment has passed, just accept it!)

What are your views on positive mental attitude? What are some myths you have about them? Share with us in the comments.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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112 thoughts on The 5 Myths of Positive Mental Attitude

  1. steven

    James Branch Cabell wrote:

    “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears this is so”

  2. Lauren

    i just found this blog through some other sites i read and i’m so thrilled. as a kid, i remember trying to find some way, any way to ignore or suppress any sad feelings i had so i would ignore them. as i grew older and had to accept that the world wasn’t designed to be perfect, i began to wallow in this negativity, almost enjoying the intensity of sadness, because at least it was more satisfying than being hopelessly miserable.

    this was the first time i ever thought that my negative perception was just that, perception. there are people who are “positive thinkers” who behave that way because they are afraid of conflict or failure, who can’t be honest about their circumstances and say instead that everything is always fine. which cannot be true in this world, unfortunately.

    you’ve shown me to acknowledge the sadness and then view its alternative perspective…not to deny hardships but to view them as obstacles to get over, not reasons to stop trying or caring.

    very enlightening, i look forward to reading more.

  3. jd

    Tina – Nice rundown

    I think one of the most important things to figure out is, where do you need the change? For example, do you need to change your thinking, feeling or doing? .. or if it’s the situation, do you need to change for the situation, change the situation itself, or avoid it altogether. I call this, The Change Frame –

  4. I think there is a big difference between personal reality and reality as it is. In our personal reality we can be either positive or negative, and that reality will be real to us. The universe is like a rorschach blot. When we realize this and experience life without division of our mind, we realize the universe opens its utmost heart to us.

  5. Thank you. You write good indeed. All areas of mental attitude were touched by your pen. I think I too am the positive thinker, but, unfortunately, my own posts sounds more sad. I hope my position will look clearer after reading the

    What’s needed for being positive, is the wish to live. The recognition of personal needlessness makes hard that. Thus our peace stands before the dreams and there is the huge abyss between. Life clearly portrays the need for the bridge. Our conversations could serve us here.

  6. I re-read the book ‘Pollyanna’ a little while ago, and immedietly took ‘Pollyannaish’ out of my list of derogatory terms. Her attitude was useful, effective, and beautiful – highly reccomended for anyone who wants to change the world.

  7. I love I JAH

    “We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”

    -Rainer Maria Rilke

    don’t care what you may say, we’ve got that attitude!

  8. I’m happy to find your work. I’ve posted a link to your site on my blog. I wasn’t familiar with the term PMA, but think it’s quite apt. I have found amazing peace in exercising the power in being positive. I think it’s so important to share that perspecitve with as many as will listen. Keep up the Good Work!

  9. Paul

    Great read, thanks

    I am a worrier, I hate it, I worry about my job, health, relationships, my money..

    Yet, I have a great job I enjoy, good health, love my wife and family and have no debts – so why do I worry?

    Negative thinking makes me think I might loose it all!

    Trying to embrace positive mental attitudes must be good, I dont sometimes appreciate how lucky I am

  10. A good blog post with a lot of good comments. I struggle with positive thinking myself, like I struggle with exercise. Positive thinking for me is exercise in that it takes a little work but the payoff is worth it.

  11. Deb

    I enjoyed the article as it helped me gain some insight on what I’m feeling right now – as in I may not be able to control my circumstances but I can control my attitude…..

  12. luis

    Thank you a lot for this article. I found it by chance… I don´t understand all of that.
    But its helpfull

  13. A very good post. while I am reading it inspires me and think a lot to do for the success of my dreams and goals. I recall all my unfinished work and desires to do the things that I wanted to do. Now, I have to put on work what I am planning too. This post is a very good ways of convencing also with othere people to think possitively to add more life span of thier life based on recent study. :)

    Thank you

  14. Rol

    I find it hard to love myself when no-one loves me.

    When no-one loves me I find it hard to have PMA.

    It’s like a perfect goal to have and be buzzing there – if only.

  15. Rory

    When a person awakens so to speak and realises who they truly are ( consciousness) then positive mental attitude becomes the natural way to life. When you develop to the extent that you find you can choose to aknowledge or ignore one of two thoughts positive and negative then who in their right mind would not choose to think positive. This may seem difficult to understand but those who know how to obserb their thought and feeling forms will know what I mean.

    Always learn and develop

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