Having a positive mental attitude
‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.’
Sir Edmund Hillary, mountaineer and explorer
Before you continue here, it’s important that you open your
mind to what you are going to read.
It might help if I let you into a secret. I used to be a person who
didn’t believe in positive thinking. I used to think that people
who talked about thinking positively were just kidding them-
selves. I was convinced they were just playing mind games with
I remember thinking that surely they must be confused if they
really believed that the simple act of just thinking positively would
help them. How wrong I was. In fact, it wasn’t until I started
studying the subject and trying some of the concepts out for
myself that I realised. I regret not keeping an open mind.
There’s no doubt that not everyone accepts or believes in
positive thinking. So, if you are a doubter, bear with me here
– remember, I too was a sceptic once. Accepting that positive
thinking works is the ﬁrst step, only then can you start to con-
sider how to achieve it and then how to use it effectively to build
36 brilliant confidence
And don’t forget – it’s absolutely true that optimistic people are
more likely to stay healthy and live longer than pessimists!
We know this because researchers at the University of Pittsburgh
studied data from the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing
study of 100,000 women over 50 that started in 1994. At the
beginning of the study, participants were asked to respond to
whether they agreed with a statement like ‘In uncertain times,
I expect the worst’. Eight years later, researchers examined the
women’s death rates and found that those who were optimistic
were 14 per cent more likely to be alive than the pessimists.
Where do you stand?
How do you describe yourself when someone asks you if you are
a positive or negative thinker? If you’re not sure, it’s important
to be clear on this before moving on.
Try asking yourself if you see your glass as half full or half empty.
If it’s half full, you’re thinking the right way; you’re likely to think
more positively. If more often than not you see it as half empty,
then you need to start trying to change your mindset straight
If you’re still not sure where you stand here, try looking back
over the last year – ask yourself what you remember. You’ll prob-
ably have a mixture of good and bad memories. The key here is
to establish which ones are taking precedence. Where does your
focus tend to be? If you’re thinking mainly of good experiences,
well done – you’re thinking positively. If you’re thinking mainly
of negatives, you need to start thinking about trying to shift your
We’ve already established during Chapter 1 that negative memo-
ries have value if you can learn from them. Once that’s happened
and you’ve squeezed out everything you can learn from them,
you must forget them and move on. Conﬁdent people have the