Words of Hope: How’s Your PMA

One of the most famous lines at NBC Camps was a question Dad asked. He would ask the campers, “How’s your PMA?” They would jump up and respond, “Boy, am I enthusiastic.” PMA stands for positive mental attitude, and it emerged from the belief that our attitude determines our way of living. Growing up, I had a naturally cheerful disposition. As I have aged, I tend to see the world through a more negative, critical lens. Thankfulness can seem disingenuous. I struggle against viewing the world through deficit. I think I am being “realistic.” I was trying to manufacture joy I didn’t feel in my lack of understanding. Yet, the more I grew in my experience of gratitude and cultivating a positive mental attitude regardless of my external circumstances, the more genuine my gratitude became.

This place of thankfulness allows me freedom of thought to come up with solutions; the mind is free to be creative. When I began to acknowledge the benefits of gratitude, I was motivated to lay aside my “realism” and become devoted to learning about PMA. I had to be willing to lay aside my cynicism and start to trust and believe in the efficacy of gratitude. It’s tempting for me to believe that I will finally be happy if I get what I want. Watching Dad work each day to find ways to say thank you even during the cancer journey has reminded me that my external situation may seem to bring satisfaction. Still, through the discipline of gratitude, a true joy for life emerges.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Phil. 4:4