Dynamic Learning begins with the power of positive thinking. It is a simple idea that is not easy to carry out. To have a positive mental attitude (PMA) one must do a great deal of soul searching. One must clear the air of guilt and regrets. Over the course of this article I discuss the idea of PMA along with some steps for how to develop your personal PMA. |
I am going to ask you to something very weird right now. First of all, I want you to listen to your thoughts. Now tell me, what thoughts fill your head? Would you label them as positive, or negative?
Now let's say you are walking down the street with your own thoughts. Do you think anyone who would meet you would be able to tell you what is on your mind?
I suspect that most people radiate their inner thoughts. Body language, facial expressions, even your pace are clues for people to dissect. While many people could not tell you exactly what you think, they may have a sense of your basic attitude.
Here's another question. When you enter a party filled with friends, do they all fall silent as if something terrible had happened? Or does everybody there perk up as if waiting for something exciting to happen? What about when a teacher walks into a room? When the dismissal bell rings on Friday?
In case you haven't figured it out, it is often quite easy to figure out the attitude people carry in any situation. Your thoughts are powerful. They affect your general attitude. The attitude you carry reflects on your appearance unless, of course, you are a great actor.
Your attitude depends entirely on you. It can be either positive or negative but never neutral. Your inner thoughts are the key to your external attitude. Those thoughts turn outward in the way you walk, talk, and even look.
Positive thinking is reflected in your appearance. Looking happy, laughing, lively, and the like are all reflections of a PMA. Negative thoughts sap your strength and the strength of those around you. Just go to a funeral to see the effects of negative thinking or a concert to see the effects of PMA.
Clearly positive energy is attractive while negative energy repels others. I once worked in a school where the teachers were a lively, positive group. At faculty meetings, the moment the principal walked into the room a pall came over us. It was as if the principal leeched the joy out of the room.
The PMA Benefits
We all have much to gain from a positive mental attitude. Studies have shown, for example, that a positive attitude promotes better health. People with a PMA tend to have more friends. Also, having a PMA often means less stress in life.
Developing a PMA begins with self-esteem, that positive self-image that is often talked about in school. There is a single trick to developing self-esteem. Do estimable things. Meet expectations, take the time to go beyond the minimum expected. Go out of your way to help other people. In short, make a decision to take on a sense of responsibility for your actions.
Negative attitudes often begin because one feels slighted. Something happened at home or on the playground that you believe is someone else's fault. You blame another for your misfortune. You decide to act out in negative ways. In short, you make a decision to point the finger at others without realizing that when you do, three fingers point back at you.
There is some research that points out that out of every 14 things parents say to their children, only one is positive. This means that only a little more than 7% of the talk a child hears at home is positive. I have not come across research like this for schools, but if I had to guess, I would think that less than 7% would be positive. This means that the bulk of what one hears is negative.
Given that ratio, how does one develop a positive attitude. The answer is simple. One makes a decision to ignore the 93% and concentrate on the 7%. While it is simple, it is not easy. It takes time and effort to learn how to ignore so much negative thinking, the many rebukes one suffers.
There is a serious drawback from trying to do the work too fast. One could decide to only have fun, tell jokes, make others laugh. But if that is all you decide, you become merely a clown. To couple the external with the internal one must also decide to take responsibility for one's acts. In short, to do things that are estimable for those around you while still deciding that life is to be enjoyed.
Not even the best of us can maintain a positive attitude all of the time. There are times when one is sad. Terrible things happen in the world, things that are not fun. Tornados, hurricanes, people or pets dying, war and the like are unavoidable. They can, and often do, make large numbers of people sad. With a genuine PMA, one can take these events in stride, learning to let go of the event itself while concentrating on how to make their role a positive one.
Clearly, Dynamic Learning begins with action tied directly to a positive mental attitude.
The Final Words
Someone (perhaps Abe Lincoln or Henry Ford) once said, "Whether you believe you can or you can't, you are right." I believe this is a true statement. While some things remain outside the realm of the possible, like traveling faster than the speed of light, anything that is possible can be accomplished. We can dream the impossible and find it to be possible even within our own lifetimes. My grandparents were born at a time when we could not travel faster than a train could move, around 40 miles per hour. They lived to see a man land on the moon.
The point is, positive attitudes, while likely not a natural part of our DNA, are just a decision one makes to act and then follows up on. It is one thing to merely decide to do something. Quite another to act on that decision. Think of it this way. There are three frogs sitting on a log in the pond. One decides to jump off. How many frogs are left on the log. The answer is THREE. One only decided to jump off but didn't act. Decisions without actions do not change attitudes. Decisions along with accompanying action changes the world.
Dr. Roger Lewis is the owner of Effective Study Tips where he introduces parents and their children to the most effective study habits we know of. Dr. Lewis is a career educator teaching in both middle-school settings and in university departments of education. His specialty is in the teaching of reading methods for k-12 students. He is now retired concentrating on sharing his knowledge with a broader audience.
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