What if we told you that by actively changing the way you mentally respond to situations in your life, you can increase your overall happiness? It’s called a ‘growth mindset’ and it’s arguably the easiest way to a happier you. Having a growth mindset means you’re aware your beliefs and feelings can change, and grow, over time. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset, whereby you believe your current scenario and feelings to be ‘all there is’. It’s a limiting belief, whereas the growth mindset opens up a wealth of opportunities for your future.
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
Cultivating a growth mindset is as easy as becoming more conscious of how you respond, instead of react, to what life throws at you. When you have this positive mindset, you are better able to embrace your mistakes and flaws as opportunities for growth and just a part of the learning process. You are more empowered to reach your goals following setbacks, opposite to someone with a fixed mindset who may give up more easily and be unmotivated to strive for ‘better’ following failure.
Having a growth mindset increases the capability to positively impact your mental health and personal development across a variety of areas. For instance, you would view your intelligence quotient (IQ) as something you can develop over time, rather than a number you have and are ‘fixed’ with. You would see talent as a goal that can be reached through effort, as opposed to something you innately have or do not have.
You would see other people’s successes as inspiration, rather than as a threat to your own. Most importantly in the workplace, you would view feedback as an opportunity to better yourself and so you put it into practice immediately. Someone with a fixed mindset would view feedback as criticism, a personal attack without real-world application.
So how can you cultivate this way of thinking? It all comes back to practising gratitude.
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Here are some examples of internal thoughts you can switch to move you from a fixed to a growth mindset:
- Instead of saying ‘I have to go to work’, say ‘I get to go to work’
- Instead of saying ‘I have to pick up the kids’, say ‘I get to pick up the kids’
- Instead of saying ‘I have to clean the house’, say ‘I get to clean the house’
- Instead of saying ‘I have to go to cricket training’, say ‘I get to go to cricket training’
- Instead of saying ‘I have to budget my money’, say ‘I get to budget my money’
See the difference? By simply switching one word, you move your opportunities from something you have (fixed) to something you get (growth – a goal in front of you).
In the context of wider opportunities for growth mentioned earlier, here’s how it can come to life:
- Your IQ: Instead of ‘I have an IQ of 87’, think ‘My IQ is 87 now, but I can get it to 92 with some training’
- Talent development: Instead of ‘I don’t have the talent to play the piano’, think ‘I get to practice the piano to increase my talent’
- Other’s success: Instead of ‘I don’t have the same success as Joe does’, think ‘I can get the same success as Joe by working harder’
- Receiving feedback: Instead of ‘I have received criticism that shows I am not good at my job’, think ‘I get to use the feedback just received to improve my work’
- Making mistakes: Instead of ‘I made a mistake and have ruined everything’, think ‘I made a mistake and get to learn from it for next time’
- Being motivated: Instead of ‘I have to avoid this challenge because I will fail’, think ‘I get to try this challenge and I might succeed’.
Try switching your thinking next time you’re faced with adversity. Done successfully, you’re less likely to burn out and have negative thoughts within your relationships. Better yet, you’ll approach life as full of opportunity – which is something you’ll get to enjoy, day after day.
About the author: BARE Therapy is an Australian-based counselling service. Certified Practising Counsellor, Tammi Sue, enables clients to work through their ‘stucks’ to live better lives. Find out more – @bare__therapy.
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