When Mind over Matter Isn’t a Good Idea


  • Our brains tend to focus on negative thoughts. We can change this by consciously choosing positive thoughts.
  • Our perspectives, viewpoints, and attitudes influence how we experience the world.
  • A positive attitude can improve your health and well-being, but it's not a cure-all.
  • You can control your response to events, even if you can't control the events themselves.
'Age is an issue of mind over matter. 
If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.'
― Mark Twain

Thanks for making us smile Mr Twain. However, we know only too well that attitude makes all the difference. What we think matters more than we sometimes realise. 

The sad reality is that we default to negative thinking and that it's upon that baseline that our life perspectives are built. The only way to alter that default is to consciously redirect our thoughts to a positive orientation deliberately, or on purpose.

Science journalist and author of Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Daniel Goleman explains the two-fold prowess of the mind; 'the glories of the human cortex… give you both a unique advantage among all animals and a paradoxical disadvantage; the ability to anticipate the future - and worry about it - as well as to think about the past - and regret.'

Our power to imagine, if left to its own default will tend to be negative, blowing up our fears and heightening guilt. We may tend to play through countless worst-case scenarios and focus on all our past failings.

The Telling Trilogy of Perspective, Viewpoint, and Attitude

This trilogy forms a powerful, three-strand cord that, although we have control over, we often let them all free-wheel.

  • Perspective references the 'lens' or angle, through which you perceive yourself and your life. 
  • Viewpoint references the opinions you then build around the perception you select to frame your life experiences.
  • Attitude references a construct of your perspective, your viewpoint plus and the emotions you attach to them.

Attitude, left to itself becomes a resulting predisposition, or if directed, a chosen disposition. A negative attitude will have negative effect on your body and in your life. Conversely, a positive attitude has good effect on your body and in your life. It is but a choice You don't have to remain a victim.

But, is attitude everything? How much of our reality do we fashion and how much is thrust upon us? Can you use your mind to stop a tsunami from coming at you, or change what happened in your childhood?

Let’s dive into that a bit and explore what’s helpful and what’s not.

Mind Over Matter - the good side of the coin

Mind over matter has a huge impact. What we believe about something even has a physical effect. This was well demonstrated by the fake beer Princeton college prank. Though consuming gallons of non-alcoholic beer, everyone believed they were drinking alcohol. As old neural patterns residing as conditioned reflexes in the brain stem drove their responses, they felt and acted inebriated. They slurred and even passed out on the floor without a drop of alcohol in their system.

The same thing happens when people read the side effects of a medication or Google their symptoms and then start feeling them. What you believe can actually nullify medicine or treatments you’ve decided won’t work! Scary stuff.

The NHS offers training to help sufferers develop sufficient mental fortitude to overcome and moderate their own pain, which greatly improves the quality of their life. Mental rehearsing can improve physical capability and hone coping skills. Top athletes constantly push past their body aches and pains.

But is there a flip side?

The Bad Side of Mind Over Matter

Mind over matter can flip to the bad side of the coin, should we choose to ignore vital signals from the body - our self-perpetuating bio-feedback system. We need to be self-aware enough to understand our own body's messages and respond responsibly.

We fuel our bodies, not just with what we eat, but also with what we see and think. So, back to attitude. It matters, sure, but is it everything?

Remembering that Dr. Daniel Goleman is not just an author, but a most respected analyst of the brain and its relation to behavioural sciences, we’ll let him clear that up one time. He states;

'The result of this attitude-will-cure-all rhetoric has been to create widespread confusion and misunderstanding about the extent to which illness can be affected by the mind, and, perhaps worse, sometimes to make people feel guilty for having a disease, as though it were a sign of some moral lapse or spiritual unworthiness.'

That’s telling it like it is. The power of the mind is more organic than one might think - pun intended. It controls your perception and creates your reality. It powers our self-worth or lack of it.

How You Affect Your Reality

Many sages have expressed wherein the power to shape our reality lies. Here are our two favourites:

  • 'It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.' – Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher
  • 'Everything you do, be it great or small, is but one-eighth of the problem, whereas to keep one’s state undisturbed even if thereby one should fail to accomplish the task, is the other seven-eighths.' – 6th-century Dositheus of Gaza 

Going with the 6th-century dude, if one-eighth of any problem is the actual issue – a mere molehill – then, seven-eighths is the mountain we make of it. But, what if we refuse to make a mountain out of what happens to us? Then we take the power back with a winning ratio of seven-eighths of a problem or event under our control. In other words, the bulk of any issue lies in our remaining undisturbed by it, with the lesser portion devoted to the actual issue.

In other words, your reality consists of only two matters to mind:

  1. Things you can control
  2. Things you can't control

You can’t control time or unforeseen occurrences - stuff happens, but you can always control your responses. You can choose how you will receive and perceive and respond to any matter to bring the bulk of a thing back in your control.

Consider Your Verdict

Choice is a powerful weapon against negative perceptions, viewpoints, and attitudes.

'Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.' - Henry Ford

All you need is enough self-awareness to figure out when you might be stuck in negative rhetoric or strong enough to deliberately reframe what you can in a positive light.

Taking care of yourself includes looking after your physical health too. Feel free to explore the Cures & Creams online store and get yourself stocked with the natural remedies that are just right for you and your loved ones.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical or psychological advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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