As fitness enthusiasts who work out regularly we understand the concept of physical conditioning very well. We train with weights and cardio, and as a result our body becomes conditioned to the way we’re using it, which makes it fitter, more efficient, more toned, stronger, and so on.
Those of us who train seriously will also understand the concept of mental conditioning. When we consistently push ourselves to previous limits and beyond, we condition mental strength, meaning our mind gets stronger and isn’t so quick to throw in the towel anymore.
Physical, and especially mental, conditioning are great things to have in our lives, there are always challenges and obstacles coming along that test our limits, and part of whether we are happy and successful in life depends on how well we can handle those.
A situation with a friend the other day got me to thinking about another type of conditioning – “attitude conditioning”. This friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, she underwent the usual treatment and almost seemed to breeze through it effortlessly. The whole process couldn’t possibly have gone smoother and all her follow-up tests since have come back negative. We all put her remarkable progress down to her attitude. She is an extraordinarily positive person, even when having to go into hospital for chemotherapy treatments she was all smiles and laughs, as if it were all a big adventure for her.
The other day, my friend informed me that the doctors had recently discovered a lump in her mother, somewhere near a lymph gland. Now she has to undergo tests to see whether it’s in fact cancerous or whether is was the result of a fall she had recently. I was on the verge of telling my friend to tell her mother to stay positive, but then I stopped myself, for two reasons.
Firstly, her mother is naturally positive, probably more so than anyone I’ve ever met, so doesn’t really need to be told. And secondly, I thought to myself, how can someone just suddenly decide to be positive, and actually be genuinely positive? The answer is, they can’t. That would be fake positivity. In reality, all they can do is try as hard as they can not to be negative.
Being suddenly positive is like being suddenly strong physically or mentally. That doesn’t just happen, it’s conditioned, over time.
Those of us who have built mental strength through training or through life’s hard knocks, know that we’re much better equipped to handle life as a result. There are many situations that require us to be strong. But what about situations that require us to be positive to get through? How many people go out of their way to condition themselves to be naturally positive? Not many!
I think it’s something that many of us overlook. We can see that being strong is useful in life, so we make ourselves strong. We can also see that there are times where a positive mindset will be vital, but we don’t do anything to prepare for it. I think that to be really prepared to meet life head-on, this is an important attribute to have.
Take the time from now on to exercise and condition a positive, optimistic attitude in all things. Make no mistake, like everything else, attitude is conditioned – it’s basically formed by habitually thinking in a certain way. By building a positive attitude you will be far better prepared for what comes your way in life, and you won’t need to suddenly try to be positive against your real nature when it really counts.
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