A little PMA goes a long way

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Scott Holliday
  • 31st Medical Operations Squadron commander
PMA, or positive mental attitude, is an acronym familiar to those who've attended Air Force Combat, Water and Arctic Survival training.

Alongside one's faith, PMA is often credited with preserving the lives of people in life-threatening survival situations.

A prime example includes America's prisoners of war - our brothers and sisters in arms who've endured brutal, unthinkable conditions at the hands of our enemies. Given the difficult circumstances, it's logical to expect such persons to lose hope and succumb to a negative outlook. However, many have indicated that a commitment to PMA played a key role in their survival and return home.

Though most of us won't ever experience the extreme conditions of a POW, a positive attitude is just as important in our lives. PMA (or lack of) greatly impacts our individual performance, our co-workers and our families. As with many things, it boils down to choice. Success rarely happens by accident and each of us must seize the opportunity to deliberately pursue PMA. In so doing, we benefit ourselves and others.

We all face the daily pressure of a fast paced, complex life filled with demands from work, family and social commitments. A 2004 survey conducted by Ipsos, a global marketing research firm, found that 64 percent of Americans were most likely to agree with the statement "There is never enough time in the day to get done what I want to get done."

The relentless, steady grind of deadlines and commitments challenge our ability to maintain PMA, which in turn may undermine the foundation on which we stand - our attitude and relationships. Negative attitudes have a profound effect on our health which can then lead to decreased productivity, increased conflict and declining relationships.

Conversely, a positive attitude in the same situation, can lead to greater productivity, quicker conflict resolution, and healthy relationships. While we can't will the environment and people around us to change, we can control our response. PMA has a domino effect and produces in a healthier environment and improved attitudes by all.

What are some ways a person can go about controlling their attitude? All too often the tyranny of the urgent threatens to supplant higher priorities, and the pressures of life take their toll if not kept in check.

To address this, we must frequently examine ourselves and ask several questions. "What is the state of my attitude and what adjustments are necessary?" "What has top priority today and what can I reasonably accomplish?" "Am I taking appropriate time out of my day to recharge and refocus?" As we concentrate on these questions, we are able to formulate a plan that will enable us to tackle whatever comes our way - and do it with a positive attitude.

I continually try to follow this advice and "plan" for success. I begin with investing in relationships - with my family and co-workers. My plan includes a daily routine of meaningful time with loved ones, exercise and spiritual growth through church fellowship. I've also found that when I distinguish the "urgent" from the truly important matters of life, I have a healthier perspective and more time to invest in others and maintain my PMA. To neglect our attitude and relationships is to limit our success in life; it's simply too important to ignore.

We all struggle to maximize the limited resources of money, manpower and time. Thankfully, our time and effort is multiplied when we approach every area in our lives with a positive attitude. We are more content, refreshed and mentally prepared for all situations.

In the end, the choice to maintain PMA is ours. Given what's at stake, it's prudent for us to take time to examine our lives and formulate a plan for success. Hopefully you'll never be a POW or in a life-threatening survival situation. Nevertheless, your health, the well-being of others as well as mission safety and effectiveness hinge on your commitment to a positive attitude.

A little PMA goes along way.  Carpe diem - seize the day!