Mind over Matter
Mind over matter is an idea that is of relevance in achieving several things in life. Oftentimes than not, it is associated with the concept of attitude. Interchangeably, the concept of mind over matter and that of attitude have their respective roles to play in fulfilling the things that individuals do whether in singular or in collective form.
Attitude is defined by Chapman & McKnight to be a person’s “general disposition — your mental ‘starting point’ for viewing life and the people and events in it” (3). Taken from the inner perspective of the individual, the attitude is considered as the manner by which the individual sees and interpret things in mental terms wherein the emphasis is placed in ideas starting from “inside [the person’s] head” (Chapman & McKnight 3). On the other hand, the attidue of a person, as seen by the outsider, is considered to be the interpretation of what the individual say and do (Chapman & McKnight 3). There is an element that has an important role to play in the attitude of a person and this has something to do with the focus (Chapman & McKnight 3). With focus, there are two possibilities that can be seen from the attidue of a person. First, a person could place more emphasis on positive attidue and gain a positive feeling and atmosphere in doing so (Chapman & McKnight 3). On the other hand, a person could also “magnify” and dwell in the negative thoughts brought about by a negative attidue in order to perpetuate the negative feeling (Chapman & MckNight 3).
Through an individual’s attitude, there are several things that can be achieved for the better. The emphasis placed here in using attitude is in line with the concept of mind over matter and this entails a focus on the positive side of things. First, it helps people make changes in terms of unwanted behavior and/or undesirable addictions. For example, Bourne outlines several points in the way through which a person could motivate theirselves towards natural approaches in dealing with anxiety (373). Together with the several steps is the greater force that the notion of “mind over matter” and the way a person handles the difficulties to achieve success in the need to change (Bourne 373). There are changes in the lives of people that sometimes come during unexpected times and affects a greater sphere of the life of the person. Hesitations are always present during times like this as change is one of the most uncertain things that people face and that disapproval of this is perfectly normal. The success of going through change and achieving the goals brought about and intended by this type of change would have to depend greatly on the attitude of the person. Mind over matter would clearly direct the efforts and concentration of the person towards achieving the things that they need and avoids distraction. This would also make acceptance of changes that have to be made a lot easier.
Second, the applicability of mind over matter is also seen in the discussion of eating disorders and over-all well-being in terms of health. Bell, as cited in Costin, has two views with regard to the present-day cultural ideals (73). First, there is the set wherein importance is placed in “physical health, thinness, and self control” (Costin 73). Second, as seen in the era of medieval Christendom, there are ideals that related to “spiritual health, fasting, and self-denial” (Costin 73). These two views contribute to what people should achieve as the ideal state in terms of their health and physique. The only means through which people could achieve a balance between these two sets of goals is through “self-sacrifice and mind over matter” as efforts are placed to achieve these (Costin 73). There are various problems today that come with maintaining the physical health of people and balancing this with other aspects of body. One of the most common cases related to the maintenance of a healthy-looking body is the focus placed on weight that subsequently results to eating disorders. The way through which people could cope with this is through winning the self back with the right kind of attitude. The determination and will to get out of a particular eating disorder and maintain a healthy lifestyle comes with the positive attitude for it and the will to really change for the better. In doing so, it is always rationality that comes before the personal wills and capricious acts that a person intends to engage in. In a study mentioned by Magee, it is shown that there is the tendency for women to ignore their actual hunger in lieu of the nutritional information and labels that are shown in the food being eaten (94).
Third, attitude also helps people in coping with the stressful events that occur and with stress, in general. Everyday, there are a significant amount of stressors that are present and these come in different levels. There are different ways by which a person could cope with this but the overhanging solution have to do with the way these are handled, perceived, and processed mentally. Oftentimes than not, there is the need for a person to adopt the notion of a mind over matter ideal in order to think clearly and reduce the level of stress that is being experienced (Ayer 41). Stress is often seen as a destruction in the way people goes through different events in life. Sometimes, it can be seen in positive terms wherein there is a level that is considered healthy for the person to be able to continue doing their best in a particular task. However, there remains the need to handle this in the best positive way and this can only be done by keeping the right attitude and putting more emphasis on the way through which the particular stressor could be reduced and not magnified.
Lastly, it could also be used in coping with medical conditions. In an account of Lois Becker, a cancer patient, the battle with cancer is made lighter with maintaining a positive attitude and placing emphasis on mind over matter (Canfield 289). Sometimes, it is not only the medical aspects of healing that is important but also the mindset of the person. While attitude alone can not save a person from a particular illness, there remains the fact that this contributes to the treatment process.
Despite the important roles that attitude play in the life of individuals, there are several arguments that are placed against it in terms of the applicability of other aspects of the person (Kleiner, Gardner, & Mamiya 737). This is seen to come in different directions based on the disciplines upon which it is applicable.
It can be said that there are several ways by which attitude or the idea of mind over matter comes into relevance in living life. This comes in succeeding through change, maintaining physical health, overcoming certain illnesses, and coping with stress. These are some of the areas which are seen to be related to maintaining attitude for the betterment of an individual. Likewise, there are particular criticisms that can be seen in relation to the concept as it is considered in different disciplines.
Ayer, Eleanor. Everything You Need to Know about Stress. NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2001.
Bourne, Edmund. The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. 4th Ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2005.
Canfield, Jack. Chicken Soup for the Cancer Survivor’s Soul: 101 Healing Stories about Those who Have Survived Cancer. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 2008.
Chapman, Elwood ; McKnight, Wil. Attitude. 4th ed. Menlo Park, CA: CrispLearning, 2001.
Costin, Carolyn. The Eating Disorder Sourcebook. NY: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006.
Kleiner, Fred, Gardner, Helen, ; Mamiya, Christin. Garnder’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.
Magee, Elaine. Tell me what to Eat if I have Diabetes: Nutrition you can Live with. Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, 2003.