The Importance of a Positive Mental Attitude

It's safe to say that life is markedly easier when we have a positive mental attitude.

Helping us cope with the tricky challenges we all face from time to time, an optimistic frame of mind assuages our worries and negative thinking, bringing constructive changes into our lives.

In a bid to help you look on the bright side of life, we've compiled a handy guide to creating and nurturing a positive mental attitude, allowing you to shift your perspective and achieve your goals.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind is used for basic logic functioning, such as getting from A to B, solving problems, interpreting communication etc. Contrary to what most people think, the conscious mind is not the only mind we have, and certainly is not the part that controls the majority of our behaviours.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is the driving force, the part that controls your body's functioning, such as circulation, breathing and digestion. If you cut your finger, it's not the conscious mind that heals it, but the subconscious mind knows what needs to be done to bring the body back in balance and sets about doing it.

The memory is also within the subconscious mind. With the help of billions of tiny interconnecting nerve cells, everything we have ever seen, heard, studied, smelled, tasted, felt or experienced in any way is permanently stored there. Habitual conduct is carried out in the subconscious mind. When you dress, you no longer concentrate on which arm goes into which sleeve. When you run down the stairs, you are not thinking, "left foot, right foot."

However, your subconscious mind cannot reason. It merely accepts messages and seeks to make things happen based on them. For example, if the thought is "I can't do this", the subconscious mind will not argue, it will simply take you at your word and see that you truly aren't able to do it.

It's been scientifically proven that when the subconscious mind accepts a thought, impressions are made in the brain cells. As soon as your subconscious accepts any idea, it goes to work immediately to create it. Far too often, we're only concerned with those things that are tangible, i.e. things that we can see and touch. The great wisdom of the world is that it is the intangible, the things that are out of reach of our five senses, which truly shape and control our lives.

The Power of the Subconscious Mind

Example 1

The subconscious mind stores programmes and patterns of behaviour. How it generates those programmes is by suggestion and repetition. Most people cover their mouth with their hand when they cough. But why? The answer is not because it's polite, rather it's because we were all told to do it hundreds of times when we were younger. How many times have we heard our parents say, "Put your hand over your mouth when you cough"? If our parents had told us to stick our fingers in our ears when we coughed, that's what we'd all be doing, and accepting it as the right thing to do!

This example is a great one to use with people to let them see how influenced they are by others, especially how influenced they are by primary carers, i.e. parents, teachers etc. If you accept that some of your thoughts and behaviours are simply suggestions made by others, it gives you more awareness of your own power to control your thoughts and behaviours yourself.

Example 2

The Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov who, in one experiment, showed a dog a piece of meat, put forward another theory on how conditioned we are by society and other people. The dog in the experiment would salivate and Pavlov would ring a bell. He repeated this a few times and, after a while, whenever he would simply ring the bell, the dog would salivate. Because of repeated suggestion, the dog made the association between the bell and the meat, and so just on hearing the bell alone, without seeing the meat, it would salivate.

We're all susceptible to this kind of conditioning, which is why we stop at a red light and then continue on green. If you can understand the power of what's in your subconscious mind, i.e. the suggestions and thoughts that you have been conditioned with and the impact of those on your behaviours and actions, you are in a much more powerful position to take control and start doing what you need to do to get the results you want.
The Solution

What happens all too often is when we have a problem, we focus on the problem and we keep thinking about the problem. We talk to our family, friends and colleagues about the problem. And what usually happens? It usually gets bigger! Instead, we should think about the solution. We need to ask ourselves the right questions, such as, "How can I solve this?" "How can I achieve / accomplish this?" Then, when we've taken all the action we can towards the solution, we turn it over to our subconscious mind. This means we must give it time to tell us the solution, as it can't speak to us if our mind is full of idle chatter from our conscious mind. We must rest, meditate, be still, and then the solution will come.


Once you're clear on your desired outcome, you can create a picture of it. For example, if you were two-stone lighter, what would life be like then? What would you see in the mirror? Where would you go? Who would you go with?

This is a powerful way of making impressions on the subconscious mind, and is particularly useful if visualised for just a couple of minutes every day. You can also use this in your workout sessions as an additional motivator if you feel you're flagging.


It's important to understand that some of what you believe to be true came from external voices that were not always correct. This exercise helps to identify the patterns that govern your thoughts, eg. "I'll never lose weight", "I can't find time to go to the gym", etc.

Firstly, simply write down any thoughts or beliefs you have around the areas of body image, physical capability, personal confidence, ability to reach goals etc. Now, take each disempowering belief and then write the opposite. For example, "I don't have time to go to the gym" becomes "I do have time to go to the gym". Also, write down three reasons why the opposite is true or truer than the original belief. It may take some mental gymnastics, so think laterally, e.g. "If I got up an hour earlier for the gym, I'd have more energy during the day, and would therefore get better quality sleep".


We all respond to positive stimuli – and more often than not this occurs subconsciously. Product marketing is an example of this. If you stop and think about why you buy what you buy, what conclusions would you draw? More often than not, what we buy is a reflection of the message advertisers have put out.

There is a very basic theory of motivation that states everything we do is to avoid pain and gain pleasure. At this time, then, it's very important to create a set of personal rewards for goals achieved. This will act as an additional powerful motivator. Even if you only come up with a couple, it's a good start and will set a precedent, making it easier for you to set rewards later.

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