Large and profound change is around us. This change transcends politics and religion, stretches across national and international boundaries, and may be the beginning of a seismic shift in our consciences and collective consciousness. As human society grapples with inequality on multiple levels, 2020 may prove to be the catalyst that provides clarity in hindsight. Radically positive change often starts with a single decision, one that each of us has the opportunity to pursue.
While we can’t control what happens around us, we can control how we act. The single decision to occupy and control the only real estate we have each been given promotes purpose-driven living. Life without purpose has little meaning, with the search for meaning greatly aided when we break through the layers around our deep consciousness to unearth those core values that drive and shape the energy behind our thoughts, feelings and actions. While we are mostly the stars of our own movies; it is also helpful to go sit in the audience. This begins to occur when we each begin observing our mindset.
The mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notions so established that it creates a powerful incentive within us to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices and tools. Our mindsets thus affect our interpretations, responses and decision-making.
A fixed mindset rests on the notion that our basic talents are fixed traits and that intelligence is static. This results in a tendency to want to avoid challenges, ignore negative feedback, and feel threatened by the success of others.
A growth mindset is based on the belief that intelligence can be developed. This leads to a desire to embrace challenges, learn from negative feedback and find inspiration in the success of others.
It is possible to change our mindsets with hard work and dedication, and the outcome overwhelmingly justifies the effort. This view is backed by neuroscience. Simply put, the brain is a muscle that gets denser when exercised. As we work to learn and grow, neurons in our brains begin making new connections. With repeated practice, these connections strengthen and an insulation (myelin) builds along the tubes (axon) that connect neurons. More myelin means a faster signal transfer, making us better at things we practice. This is the science of neuro-plasticity and effectively debunks the ‘fixed mindset’ as a scientifically incorrect belief. The mind is a flexible mirror and can be adjusted to see a better world.
The key to changing our mindset lies in self-awareness, and in learning to identify those situations that trigger a fixed mindset.
Three effective ways to change our mindsets are:
Self-talk: Tell yourself you can change, and you will start to listen
Imagery: Imagine yourself doing things differently, and you will begin to do them
Planning: Understand cause and effect, and work to break that cycle
Mindset changes translate to life changes, and increasing mindset mastery often results in healthier choices, a more positive outlook and renewed enthusiasm to accomplish our objectives. The mindset paradigm is thus a cognitive perspective that places learning squarely in the context of our thoughts. While we can’t think our way into changing the way we act; we can act our way into changing the way we think. The path to lasting change involves setting small goals for ourselves, sharing these socially, and practicing them. While deep-rooted mindsets take time to change, consistent and deliberate practice will lead to new skill development.
We are most comfortable with what we know, and growth primarily results from new knowledge and experiences. Growth thus exists at the edge of discomfort, making it important to consciously and deliberately replace the anxiety of safety with the delight of newness. Living on the edge of discomfort is often accompanied by ample reward.
Our collective views are dynamic and deliberate change is core to human ability. The more growth-minded questions we ask ourselves, the bigger and brighter our world and possibilities become.