Mind Over Matter: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 3, 2023

The phrase "mind over matter" is often used to indicate the power of the will and mental attitude in overcoming physical obstacles. It is a testament to the human ability to use thought, reason, and intelligence to surmount physical challenges.

In short:

"Mind over matter" represents the idea that the mind and willpower are more powerful than physical obstacles.

What Does "Mind Over Matter" Mean?

The phrase "mind over matter" means that mental strength and determination are more powerful than physical limitations. It carries with it a sense of resilience, perseverance, and mental fortitude.

Let's delve into its core meanings and related expressions:

  • It signifies the dominance of willpower, mental attitude, and determination over physical obstacles.
  • It is often used to overcome physical pain, hardships, or difficulties using mental strength.
  • It can also refer to the power of the mind in influencing or controlling physical conditions and phenomena.

Where Does "Mind Over Matter" Come From?

The phrase "mind over matter" first appeared in the 1863 book The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man by Sir Charles Lyell. Lyell used the phrase to refer to the increasing status and evolutionary growth of the minds of animals and man throughout Earth's history.

The idea of mind over matter has been around for centuries, however. The Roman poet Virgil expressed the idea as mens agitat molem, which translates as "mind moves matter." The Greek philosopher Plato also believed that the mind was more powerful than the body and that the mind could control the body through willpower.

Historical Example

Do you still cling to your system of the omnipotence of mind over matter?

- The European Magazine and London Review, 1806

10 Examples of "Mind Over Matter" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • The runner utilized mind over matter to push through the pain and cross the finish line.
  • Practice makes perfect! Use the power of mind over matter, as your determination and focus pave the way to mastery.
  • Though rough around the edges, with the power of mind over matter, you can transform yourself into a polished gem, radiating brilliance.
  • Harnessing the strength of mind-over-matter, you can overcome any deep dark secret and find the courage to face the truth.
  • Mind over matter is key in meditation, allowing one to overcome physical discomfort and achieve inner peace.
  • The survival of the stranded hiker was truly a case of mind over matter.
  • With mind over matter, the team managed to complete the project on time despite the odds.
  • It's your prerogative to choose how you respond, and with the mindset of mind over matter, you can navigate any situation with grace and resilience.
  • Good on you for embracing the concept of mind over matter, as it enables you to transcend limitations and achieve greatness.
  • The physical challenges of space travel require astronauts to master the principle of mind over matter.

Examples of "Mind Over Matter" in Pop Culture

The concept of "mind over matter" has often been referenced in pop culture, highlighting the power of mental strength and resilience in overcoming challenges.

Let's look at some examples:

  • The song "Mind Over Matters of the Heart" by Restless Heart explores the struggle between reason and emotions in a romantic relationship, highlighting the internal conflict of trying to make logical choices while being driven by deep emotions.
  • In the book "Intellect: Mind Over Matter," Mortimer Jerome Adler argues that the modern approach to studying the mind has overlooked crucial insights from ancient perspectives relevant to contemporary psychology.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Mind Over Matter"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "mind over matter."

Some of these include:

  • Willpower over physical limitations
  • Mental strength over physical obstacles
  • Determination over difficulty
  • Resilience over hardship
  • Mental toughness over physical challenges

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Mind Over Matter":

  • What does "mind over matter" mean?

"Mind over matter" means using mental strength, willpower, and determination to overcome physical limitations or challenges.

  • How can I use "mind over matter" in a sentence?

You can use "mind over matter" when referring to situations where mental strength or willpower are used to overcome physical obstacles or difficulties, as in "Completing the marathon was a true test of mind over matter."

  • Where does the idiom "mind over matter" come from?

The English phrase "mind over matter" can be traced back to the 19th century, with its use documented in Sir Charles Lyell's 1863 book "The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man." It encapsulates the idea that the mind's power can overcome physical obstacles, a concept deeply rooted in human thought and culture.

  • Does the phrase imply a belief in the supernatural?

Not necessarily. While the phrase may be used in spiritual or metaphysical contexts, it primarily refers to the power of the human mind and willpower to overcome physical challenges.

  • Can the phrase be used in a scientific context?

Yes, the phrase can be used in contexts like psychology or neurology, where the power of the mind and mental processes is a focus of study.

  • Does "mind over matter" suggest a dismissal of physical pain or hardship?

No, it doesn't dismiss physical challenges, but rather emphasizes the power of mental strength and determination to overcome them.

  • Can one use the phrase to motivate or inspire?

Yes, "mind over matter" is often used as a motivational or inspirational phrase, encouraging resilience and mental strength in the face of adversity.

  • Can "mind over matter" refer to the power of positive thinking?

Yes, the phrase can be associated with the belief in the power of positive thinking to influence one's physical condition or circumstances.

  • Is the phrase applicable to mental health?

While "mind over matter" can relate to mental strength and resilience, it's important to remember that mental health is complex and requires professional care. It should not be used to oversimplify or dismiss mental health issues.

  • How does the phrase relate to physical fitness or sports?

In sports or physical fitness, "mind over matter" is often used to describe the mental determination or toughness needed to overcome physical challenges or push through pain or exhaustion.

Final Thoughts About "Mind Over Matter"

The idiom "mind over matter" signifies the power of mental strength, willpower, and determination to overcome physical limitations or hardships. It highlights the potential of human willpower in various contexts.

Here's a quick recap:

  • It refers to the mind's or mental processes' power to influence or overcome physical circumstances or difficulties.
  • Its origin can be traced back to ancient philosophical and religious teachings, and it's widely used in contemporary culture.
  • It is applicable in various contexts, from sports and fitness to psychology and personal development, reflecting its versatility and universal appeal.

Whether it's pushing through a tough workout, overcoming a daunting challenge, or achieving a personal goal, if it's a matter of "mind over matter," you know the power of the human spirit is at work. This phrase reminds us that we can often surpass our perceived limitations with determination, resilience, and a positive mindset.

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