There are many possible measures of success. Money remains perhaps the shallowest, right behind possessions and status. Having money, things and status are no guarantees of success or even happiness.
Some measure success by the accomplishment of some goal. Yet, some have discovered that, once a goal has been achieved, they are left feeling empty and without direction. With this discovery comes the realization that success was not an endpoint, but a lifestyle—an attitude.
Many great mentors have talked about having a positive mental attitude, frequently abbreviated “PMA.”
Some teachers have associated PMA with positive thinking. While the two tend to go together, positive thinking is no guarantee of a positive mental attitude. Though there is some overlap, there remain great swaths of human existence where positive thought is nowhere near PMA.
As a young man, I remember reading the story of Pollyanna. She always had a cheerful outlook, but almost always unrealistic. She lived in a state of delusion, happily ignorant of the darker aspects of life. She would not let any of that darkness interfere with her joyful disposition.
The past few days, I’ve been working on a book about happiness. I hope my client is happy with it. I suspect that the draft of the first half of the book may receive some challenges. My approach is unorthodox. Unlike Pollyanna, I recommend facing the darker aspects. More than merely thinking happy, positive thoughts, we must harbor a happy attitude. True success comes from this.
Moving Beyond a Positive Mental Attitude
I learned many years ago that we are responsible for our own condition in life. Too many people, though, confuse “responsibility” with “blame.” Simply put, blame is a negative attitude that shifts a burden from self to another. Responsibility, on the other hand, remains a positive attitude of taking the driver’s seat for the benefit of all.
A positive mental attitude has many of the correct ingredients for success, but too frequently it misses out on humility and selflessness. Some people can be quite selfish about PMA. This can lead to a very shallow form of success based on self-concern.
Why “shallow?” Any success which fulfills a physical, selfish need, can be stolen or damaged. Amass a fortune, mansions, yachts and status with politicians, and all of it can be lost because of war.
Any self-concern leaves a person vulnerable. A person who has only had purely physical experiences cannot begin to understand a life without self-concern, so their version of a positive mental attitude is always a selfish and vulnerable one.
Forgiveness Beyond a Positive Mental Attitude
In my book, The Art of Forgiveness, I relate my experiences in discovering the true form of forgiveness. That was my first taste of true success. It involved absolutely zero self-concern. What involved a positive mental attitude, did so without any hint of selfishness. I was completely humble to the needs of others. I remained perfectly willing to give up everything for their needs. During those few minutes of bliss, I felt nothing but love for them, despite the assaults of several of them against me and my vehicle. Also, I felt a fearless confidence that came effortlessly.
The miracle which followed almost seems secondary. That miracle—traffic opening up for two miles on one of the busiest streets in the world, during rush hour—was not the true success that day. It was a byproduct of success. The real success was in the spiritual state of being, outside of mind and body. It was the perfection of love, humility (selflessness and connection to others), responsibility (for the viewpoints of others as well as my own), and brave poise which resides at the heart of all true faith.
On that day, forgiveness became effortless. So did all other forms of miracles.
Aren’t you a little bit curious what a real, modern miracle looks like? Wouldn’t you like to know more about the state of mind that goes on inside of a direct, spiritual act? The Art of Forgiveness is about these things and much more. With it, you can cultivate more than merely a positive mental attitude; you can find the spiritual state which opens the door to creation itself. Jesus was right. You truly can do the things he did and even greater. Following Christ is more than merely mouthing the words.
For the author of this book, the experiences he had in 1977 allowed him to see, first hand, what faith was really like. It allowed him to have a rebirth of the true meaning of Christianity.
Available in several ebook and trade paperback formats. Buy now: The Art of Forgiveness
This article was originally published 2015:1007 on RodMartinJr.com.