Gamechangers: Health & Fitness Tips from Coach Vance

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POW and Positive Mental Attitude: A Lifestyle Choice

You may have seen ‘PMA’ or Positive Mental Attitude on the POW website and in POW social media. Because people often ask what PMA is all about, and how it relates to the POW program, this installment of Gamechangers focuses on just that.


For POW, ‘PMA’ (Positive Mental Attitude) is an organizational philosophy, a mindset, a mantra and a lifestyle choice.


Each day, we are faced with a myriad of challenges – mental, emotional and physical – and we have to make a choice: How are we going to address these challenges? PMA is incredibly empowering because we choose optimism and hope over negativity, defeatism and hopelessness. We actively choose a positive disposition toward every situation, and in turn, that optimism attracts positive changes and increases achievement.


So where does the PMA concept come from?


Simple answer: Our shared history and culture.


Far more interesting answer:


As early as 170 b.c.e. Marcus Aurelius wrote about replacing the victim mentality with accountability to oneself and those who rely on them. If you’ve heard the quote, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts”, then you’re already familiar with Aurelius.

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Two thousand years later, in 1937, the concept appears again in the writing of Napoleon Hill. In Think and Grow Rich, Hill outlines the principles for PMA, though it’s still not codified as a phrase or mantra.


In 1982, the punk band Bad Brains takes the concept of PMA to a whole new level with the lyrics for “Attitude”:

Don’t care what they may say
we got that attitude.
Don’t care what they may do
we got that attitude.
Hey, we got that PMA (positive mental attitude).
Hey we got the PMA.

(“Attitude”, Bad Brains, 1982)

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Fast forward a few decades you have John Joseph of the hardcore NYC band the Cro-Mags (one of my favorites since high school) advocating for making PMA a lifestyle choice. Here at POW, we appreciate that he walks the walk and only preaches what he practices – a great example of Aurelius’s accountability.


Today, the concept of PMA is used widely in medicine and professional sports. A number of medical studies over the years have pointed to a marked correlation between positive thinking and improved health. Cancer patients are often encouraged to embrace the PMA mindset in their battle for wellness.


Studies conducted in sports medicine have also proven PMA to be invaluable: Research shows that athletes who maintain a positive train of thought and practice positive visualization have been shown to exhibit a significant improvement in overall performance.


All told, PMA is simple, direct, to the point and can fit ANY situation. At POW, PMA is typically the first tool crew members employ in overcoming the challenges life throws at them, and peer-to-peer support and fitness back that up. At POW, we recognize that the road to recovery is a life-long journey. The general state of happiness that PMA brings makes it a no-brainer.