The importance of Mindset in living Life to the Full
The mind is amazing. Its ability to create, imagine, and learn is awe-inspiring. Yet, while we see genius in others all the time, for some reason we don’t feel like we are gifted in almost any manner. When we begin to think this way we are flat-out wrong.
The fact is that there are very few naturals or purebred musical, athletic, creative, or artistic virtuosos. They are created through a balance of mindset and work. Most of the successful industrial, athletic, and cultural leaders of our culture are people who fell in love with a pursuit and actualized their calling by honing their skills around it.
In her book, Mindset, Psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck examines just how much our mindset can impact our pursuit of happiness. Oftentimes, a propensity towards a particular pursuit can lead to a fixed or closed mindset. In a closed mindset, individuals are fearful of pushing themselves beyond their current skill level to avoid losing identification with something that has been a source of praise and become central to their identity. That is why my oldest son will oftentimes stick to “safe” pursuits that he tells me he knows he is “good at.” But the fallacy in this thinking is that at some point in our life we struggled to do anything and everything we have done, whether it be walking, speech or reading. We had to learn it and did so because it was important to us. So the question is not, “What comes easiest to us?” but, “What is important to us?” and, “What are we willing to put the work in to get better at?” To paraphrase GK Chesterton, what is it that we do poorly but are willing to keep doing poorly because we enjoy it and want to get better at it?
Opposite of the fixed mindset is the growth mindset. Think of the growth mindset as the people who are constantly saying “That looks fun, let’s try it!” They don’t worry about how they are perceived by others, rather they partake in efforts in order to fulfill their own sense of adventure, curiosity, and enjoyment. My wife saw a poster that exemplified this growth mindset in a local school in which students listed things they couldn’t do…yet! This is what the growth mindset is about. It is so important to have a growth mindset in all areas of our lives. Too often we say things like, “I can’t get a job like that,” or “I don’t want to do that because I don’t want to embarrass myself.” But we can transform statements such as these into a growth mindset such as, “I want that job and this is what I’ll need to do to get it,” or “I’ve never done that, but I want to learn it.”
Assess your mindset. Are there areas in your life where you have a fixed mindset? What could you say to change that to a growth mindset? Write it down somewhere and read it frequently. As your mindset gradually changes from fixed to growth you will feel less resignation and sadness in that area and more openness and joy.
Next week, I’ll share more about how our mindset can impact our relationships.