Power of Positivity: Can Do Attitude

05/26/2020  |  By Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Edwards Commanding, 104th Training Division (LT)
From the 104th Training Division (LT)Commander

Success and failure begin from the same place and that place is in your mind. So, you have a choice...do you want to be successful or do you want to fail? The choice is yours.

“If you say you can or you can’t you are right either way” –Henry Ford

Did you know your mind is the most powerful computer in the world? It’s so powerful that man is not able to replicate it. In fact, your mind can subconsciously calculate 10 quadrillion operations per second. It pumps your heart, it regulates your blood pressure, maintains your core temperature, and heals the body without conscious effort. Your mind is doing 6 trillion things to your 60 trillion cells every second. It does so many things that I can’t even begin to list them in one document. But, there is one thing it can’t do. Do you know what that is? It’s unable to distinguish between a real event and an imaginary event.

A nightmare is a good example on how to think about this. In your nightmare you may have run away from dangers and avoided close calls only to have yourself fall of a cliff. In reality, you were laying peacefully in your bed only to be startled out of your sleep with the feeling of falling. Your mind couldn’t tell the difference of what is reality of your current physical state and what is perceived mental state. Scientist have proven the power of the mind with several studies over time. One such study measured athletes’ muscle actions while performing an event and again with the athletes simply thinking about the event in as much detail as if they were executing it in real time. And the results were surprising. The same muscle fibers that fired in the real world event fired again during the imaginary walkthrough. Other findings were obtained through placebo effect studies. The placebo effect is a study where patients are given a particular drug or treatment and have positive results which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment (paraphrased from Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Here, it was discovered that nearly one-third of all surgeries are successful simply because the patient “believes” it will work. This effect was also proven true in medication studies and brain studies. One such brain study showed increased activity with positive stimuli. Here, it proved the hippocampus, a brain area linked to memory and learning, was significantly more active in people who showed positive attitudes towards “liked” subjects or events. However, the opposite is also true. Just as powerful as believing you’re going to be healed or have a positive outcome via an external treatment or event is the belief that you’ll be harmed or negatively affected by a particular treatment or event. This is known as the “nocebo” effect.

A nocebo effect is said to occur when negative expectations of the patient regarding a treatment cause the treatment to have a more negative effect than it otherwise would have. In medicine, these type of people can be referend to as a hypochondriac (Wikipedia). People who believe they are going to develop a disease or adverse medical condition actually start developing the symptoms of that illness. In summary, whatever belief you hold in your subconscious mind will become your reality. Incidentally, that is how hypnosis works.

A person plants a belief into the back of the subconscious mind and the subject holds the belief as true and takes actions to realize the belief. It’s suggested that only two to four percent of the time you actually get to make decisions through life with your conscious mind. The other 96 to 98 percent of the time your subconscious makes a decision, much like being on autopilot. Everything that we crave, desire, and act upon comes from the subconscious mind. In short, whatever we hold in the back of our subconscious minds we are attracted to in life and make decisions accordingly in our lives. That is why subliminal ads work so effectively.

So what shapes our subconscious mind? Everything in our lives and environment shapes our conscious and subconscious mind. Everything we see, smell, hear, taste, and smell and I’d argue even our sixth sense shape who we are. It is particularly important to understand that our minds are more open when we are young compared to when we grow older. So, consider how our children’s minds are being hammered by their environment every day, be it from violent movies, bad rap songs, or having been witness to alcoholism or violence in their own households. We are products of our environment, both good and bad. Exposure to these actions shape us into who we are and the way we think. This learned behavior is why adults with criminal backgrounds or a history of drug use pass these traits along to their children. The cycle continues until someone is strong enough to break through the glass ceiling and change this patterned way of thinking. A person’s early years are most important through age 12 and less so up to age 18. We need to be extremely careful regarding what we are exposed to and how we are feeding our minds, because our thoughts become who we are...thoughts and beliefs create us. But the choice is yours, so choose wisely.

“The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill

We have on average around 60 thousand thoughts a day. The negative thoughts release cortisol which is a stress hormone into our blood. This hormone has a number of negative effects on our health, including weight gain, increased blood pressure, anxiety, stress, and depression. Most folks attribute these traits to a particularly bad situation. But was it the situation, or your reaction to the situation? That’s right...it is your reaction to the situation. Your mind is incredibly powerful as previously mentioned. Here is one more example. Why does sky diving release endorphins (a positive feeling chemical) in one person and cortisol (negative feeling chemical) into another person’s blood? After all, it’s the same situation. The reason stems from a person’s outlook...it’s their choice...it’s their view of the world.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We become powerful beings when we truly realize the world around us can be viewed with different realities. This realization enables us to begin to shape our views of the world and events in a positive light that produces opportunities and excitement. Your thoughts create your life; they create your reality. You and you alone are the creator of your reality, so choose your thoughts wisely. This is the foundation of the power of positivity; and of a can-do attitude.

The paragraphs above were extracted/paraphrased from the following site: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?

Once you realize the power of positivity and can-do attitude you can apply this knowledge to everything you do in life. So the choice is yours. Don’t live on autopilot...be aware of your actions and think/feel before you act. Exercise disciplined self-awareness and say to yourself, “I am noticing that I’m having a thought/craving/feeling, etc.” Then say, “I must make the right ‘choice’ towards my goal.” Going further, you can ask, “do I want to succeed or do I want to fail?” It’s a fundamental question that must be asked at every junction of life. You must first believe if you want to succeed. You don’t need to know all the steps to success, you can discover that along the way. What you do need to know is what success looks like. Yes, YOU must define success. Lay it out, and back plan accordingly. Develop YOUR road map to success. The map doesn’t have to include every little detail, those will undoubtedly come into focus along the way. Simply vision success and communicate it accordingly, much like we do year after year in the military. What is YOUR command vision? Define YOUR success. This is the first and most crucial step...the will to succeed. The next step is putting your plan into action.

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” —Vince Lombardi

“Dream It – Feel It – Say It – Do It”

Consider this simple formula: Lack of action = lack of success. Take action. Plenty of people have excellent ideas, but only a select few put their idea into action. Start somewhere...write it down and attempt to build on it. If you mess up, adjust your plan and start again. We learn from our mistakes. Keep driving towards your endstate and what success looks like to you in the end. Additionally, keep an enthusiastic, open mind. Look at situations in a positive light, you can open yourself up to new opportunities and challenges. Likewise, don’t fear fear, rather confront it. Take it head on and understand you are allowed to fail. I’ll underwrite your efforts as long as you are trying to do the right thing within the Army way and inside the moral lanes of not being immoral, illegal or unethical. This is a NO FEAR command. Be a leader, lead from the front, and WIN! Use this knowledge to guide others to accomplish organizational success with whatever the task at hand, including recruiting drill sergeants, mid-grade NCOs and improving Soldier readiness. Nothing is impossible if you believe!







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