Flourish Part 2: Mindset Matters
A Progressive Person's Guide to Creating Joy, Fulfillment, & Success in Life
Part 2: Mindset
An 11 Minute Read
Do you have a good relationship with your thoughts?
Are you getting “gooder and gooder and better and better?”
Do you understand the power of yet?
We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary. – Carol Dweck
We live a culture that has an obsession with talent and physical appearance. Have you ever had a conversation with a woman you find to be gorgeous and found out she was completely shallow and insecure? Too often people are being praised for low challenge activities—like how they look or dress—resulting in baseless confidence and lessening the motivation dig beyond surface level well-being. That’s ordinary and doesn’t include the effort and progress that results in real confidence, authenticity and the purpose that makes life most fulfilling. We are meant to be extraordinary! It’s up to us to create an extraordinary mindset.
In Part 2 of “Flourish” our 9 part series on creating joy, success and fulfillment in life, we will explore the importance of our mindset and how we can cultivate the thoughts, actions and habits that best serve us in living our best life.
Carol Dweck, a world renowned Stanford University psychologist with decades of research on achievement and success defines mindset is as:
“a set of beliefs of a way of thinking that determines one’s behavior, outlook, and mental attitude.”
My grandma often says, “What you think about, you get!” And it’s true! Mindsets become self-fulfilling prophecies. Our beliefs determine our thoughts. Our thoughts determine our actions. Our actions become our habits. Our habits become our character. Our character determines our destiny. So if we want to be extraordinary, we have to train ourselves to think extraordinary thoughts and do extraordinary things.
It’s an inside game. Your happiness, success and fulfillment in life depend on what you think about, what you do, how you approach problems and how you approach opportunities. Carol Dweck argues that the golden key to success is having a growth mindset.
“Fixed mindset is about proving yourself. Growth mindset is about improving yourself.”
People with fixed mindsets are judgers— focusing on labels, harshly judging themselves and others, comparing themselves to others, ignoring feedback, afraid to fail, threatened by and jealous of other’s success and often secretly discouraged that they won’t get what they want out of life.
People with growth mindsets are learners—focusing on lessons and learning, understanding that themselves and others can grow from challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, seeing effort as a path to mastery, letting feedback push them forward, inspired and learning from others successes and reaching ever-higher levels of achievement. Greatness is developed, not born.
Mindset is everything. CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Once you change your thoughts, your actions and your habits change, your character changes and you will start to see a change in the results you’re getting out of life.
Carol Dweck and other psychologist highlight having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset as one of the single most important mental attitudes to possess if you want to flourish in all that you do. And if you have children, teaching them to have a growth mindset can be one of the most important things you do for them. Like what you’re reading? Be sure to share this post with friends and family, especially those with kids.
5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset
As humans, we are wired for survival. Over thousands of years, we developed a negativity bias that was necessary in order for us to survive. Missing the bad was life-threatening—missing the good wasn’t. Well, we are no longer Neanderthals. Now that we are further along in our evolution, missing the good can threaten the love and value of life that makes it most worth living, and inhibit us from recognizing our individual ability to impact the world around us. Remember, we are here to be extraordinary! Through effort, passion, interest and deliberate practice, we can be good at just about anything. Below, I’ll list key skills, attitudes and practices proven to cultivate a growth mindset, result in optimal happiness and higher levels of achievement.
Recognize, embrace and seek out knowledge and new experiences. Curiosity is correlated with life satisfaction. Curiosity will lead you to uncover meaning and purpose in life and know your values, which we’ll discuss more of in part 3 of the Flourish Series. Ask yourself the right questions to discover your strengths, take deliberate action to master your skills, and the result will be the authentic confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy to “make it happen” in life.
Keep learning and keep evolving. If you think you know it all, chances are you have a fixed mindset and you run the risk of plateauing before reaching your full potential and losing excitement and drive in life. My grandma, that I mentioned earlier, is one of the happiest people I know. She says this is the best time of her life! Mother Margaret, as they call her, is 89 and fine! She stays recommending a good spiritual or personal development book and says she’s always working to “be gooder and gooder and do better and better!” At an age when ordinary folks tend to sit around and blame and complain, my beautiful, happy, extraordinary Granny is loving life and still focused on growth. What does that tell you?!
“Becoming is better than being” Carol Dweck
The stories you tell yourself make up your reality. If your life story is made up of a series of sad stories of defeat, you’ll be sad and believe you’ve been defeated. However, if your story is one of peaks and valleys where you found the silver lining, you’ll be happy and motivated to grow through future challenges, believing everything is working out for your highest and best good. Which belief do you think will serve you best in life?
Optimism is defined as a generalized sense of confidence about the future, characterized by broad expectancy that outcomes are likely to be positive. Optimists experience less stress, are much less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety, learn more from negative experiences, exert more continuous effort and tend not give up.
Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy because pessimists don’t persevere in the face of challenge. Pessimists look for more problems when in a negative space and tend to feel more down, worried and anxious. Optimists are also more likely to engage in problem-solving when faced with a challenge, which is associated with increased psychological well-being. Bloom where you’re planted!
Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean you don’t have negative emotions. The key is learning to digest emotions without getting stuck. Negative emotions can be useful at times. There are times when pessimism is intuitive and will keep you alive. In the blink of an eye, your split-second decision to jump out the way danger could save your life.
The goal is to decrease the negative, increase the positive and stay motivated.
Always Do Your Best
Our mindsets are rooted in our childhoods. Praise, labels, prejudice and therefore, our beliefs were first given to us by our parents or the people who raised us. Parents often praise or criticize the child, instead of the process. Worse, people are labeled or prejudged with an expectation that fails to acknowledge their greater capabilities. Personal praise or criticism can actually decrease a person’s motivation to do better. On the other hand, process praise or criticism, such as celebrating a positive behavior and effort or suggesting areas for improvement, emphasizes practice, study, persistence and good strategies, and encourages a person to do better.
Chances are, the people who raised us did their best based on their mindsets and how they were raised. No matter how “good” or “bad” our parental figures are, as adults, we have the choice to take action, make the most of our lives and do our best to live in a way that brings us happiness and success.
Have you ever read the book, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz? If not, I highly recommend it! In it, Ruiz focuses on four guiding principles to live by and one of them is “always do your best.” Your best will change and evolve as you do. Under any circumstance, if you do your best, you will decrease or avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret and maximize compassion, opportunity and your chances of success. You’ll deal with criticism and judgment better if you know you did the best you could.
If you choose to do your best, you’ll improve your thoughts and develop actions and habits that serve you well. Your character will improve. You’ll experience an increase your self-esteem and self-efficacy, and therefore increase your satisfaction with yourself, what you have and how you live. Like Granny, you can always be gooder and gooder and get better and better. Learn to use the word “yet” and you’ll leave space for growth. “I haven’t found the right job YET.” “I’m not married YET.” Get it?
“What you focus on expands.” ― T. Harv Eker, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth
When something “bad” happens, how do you respond? If you often feel like the victim and your thoughts do not serve your growth beyond the problem or challenge, chances are that you’re perspective is that of a fixed mindset.
To a person with a growth mindset, “failure” is just a temporary setback and “bad” things or people open your eyes to discover an opportunity to do something better or different than you have in the past. Challenge breeds excellence. Resilient people keep moving forward.
You can’t not think about something, you can only think of something; therefore the key to changing thoughts is replacing them. When bad things happen, manage your own resistance. Show up, give your best and relinquish attachment to the outcome. Take charge of how you think about “bad situations.” Ask yourself, is your thinking based on fact? Are your thoughts life enhancing or life diminishing? Are you being optimistic or pessimistic?
Are your thoughts serving you well? If they’re not, shift your lens. Understand your beliefs about the situation and choose your response. Sometimes we tend to overgeneralize, magnify, minimize, personalize and/or assume when in negative or stressful situations. These pessimistic tendencies can cloud the lens through which we see the path to overcoming challenges. I can talk about the importance of resilience and how to be more resilient for hours! Can you use some help here? We’ll talk more about this in our upcoming live session on resilience. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you can be informed of the date when we set it.
Developing a “personal why” that gives life meaning will allow you to better face setbacks and be more motivated to overcome obstacles. Don’t ever let fear stand in the way of your happiness and success!
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude, the state or feeling of being thankful, is an almost universal concept among world cultures and nearly all of the world’s spiritual traditions and is considered the greatest of all virtues. Grateful people have been shown to have greater positive emotion, a greater sense of belonging, more satisfaction with life, better sleep and vitality and a lower incidence of depression and stress.
Giving thanks can have a remarkable impact on your mindset and your well-being. Give thanks to a Higher Power. Give thanks to a loved one for a kind act. Give thanks to yourself learning from past difficulties and having the awareness to avoid repeating your mistakes. Take a few minutes to write a letter of gratitude to someone who’s been there for you. It will bring you and that person happiness.
As you evolve in your understanding of life, you’ll be able to be grateful for the “good” and the “bad” realizing that everything you’ve experienced serves some sort of function in your life. Pessimistic thinking puts you into a downward spiral, but on the contrary, optimistic thinking and an attitude of gratitude put you in an upward spiral. The more grateful you are, the more positive you are. The more positive you are, the more open you’ll be to growing and exploring what brings you fulfillment.
Here’s a practice in gratitude and mindfulness for you. This exercise is called the Gratitude Dozen:
List 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 challenges, 3 things you can do to overcome the challenges, and 3 future things to be grateful for.
This exercise allows you to become mindful of the opportunities you have to make the best of every situation in your life. You are not a victim. You are a conquerer!
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” Art Roy Remy
Learn to recognize when you’re operating from a fixed mindset and how you can shift your thinking to a growth mindset. Change is hard, but challenge grows your abilities. Improve as you go. Be curious. Be optimistic. Be resilient. Be grateful. By being open to growth, you will find joy in evolving into your best self.
I recommend getting the hard copy or audible of Mindset: The Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.
And here’s a good affirmation for you courtesy of Michael Beckwith:
“Right here and right now, I acknowledge myself as an ever-evolving being and surrender to the transforming touch of the Spirit. Throughout this day, I have dominion over my consciousness and happiness. Patience, forgiveness, and lovingkindness are the order of my day.”
Love, Light & Growth,
Amber Lee Forrester