Growing up, parents tell their kids “it takes more muscles to frown then to smile.” While this may seem like a clever way to get young kids to stop pouting, smiling is just the beginning of an optimistic attitude. It is important to start teaching children at a young age, that a smile can turn somebody’s day around, or change your perspective. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) is a concept that was introduced in a 1937 book by Napoleon Hill. Eighty years later this idea continues to be studied for the benefits of brain health and relationship building.
A psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina by the name of Barbara Frederickson has been studying the effects of positive attitudes on your brain. What Frederickson’s studies have shown is that your brain is wired to respond to negative emotions by narrowing your mind and focusing your thoughts. This is beneficial when responding in fight-or- flight situations but your brain responds to all negative emotions, fear, anger, and stress in the same fashion. For example, “when you are stressed out about everything you must get done today, you may find it hard to actual start anything because you’re paralyzed by how long your to-do list has become.” Many college students today can relate to this, as well as the effects of stress on their lives. Stress causes students to get less sleep and therefore they become short tempered and snap at their peers and co-workers.
Positivity is vital to both the school environment as well as at work. With a positive outlook, coworkers build better relationships, which in turn creates a goal-oriented team. It can increase interpersonal communication, productivity and motivates employees to overcome the obstacles they face. Tensions rise in the work place, so it may be hard to keep a constructive outlook, but if one employee has a negative outlook the whole team breaks down. To create an atmosphere that is conducive to work, all employees must be willing to let their negativity go and focus on the task at hand. Employers are more frequently looking to hire someone who is optimistic and can be the “cheerleader” for the team. Positivity is becoming an imperative trait sought by upper management.
Going through life with a Positive Mental Attitude allows you to see all the possibilities life has to offer and make educated choices. Not only does positivity effect your own brain activity, but it pushes those around you to be the best versions of themselves. PMA is an inward battle but it radiates on the outside, it is infectious and others will be effected by it. Everyone can and should be a cheerful role model. You never know whose life you may impact. “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill