Category Archives: Perspective

Cultivating A Positive Mindset

Mindset refers to the general attitudes of people and the way they think about things. It is what informs whatever decisions they make (or don’t make). It controls what they say and do. Their mindset is also the lens they use when evaluating the issues and events happening around them.

Mindset affects the way a person looks at things and issues. Let me share an experience as an illustration.

I once had a conversation with a colleague about salaries and working conditions. He bewailed the fact that a truck driver in his country earns more than what he is earning in a year as an expat teacher. After listening to his litany, I told him to pause for a while and dig deeper into his comparison and consider other factors like the number of required work hours and the physical demands for the job. When computing the number of hours, I reminded him that we as teachers are not actually working during winter and summer breaks but we get paid in full by the university as stipulated in our contracts. That’s a total of four months when we practically do almost nothing related to work but get paid. On the other hand, that truck driver needs to grind it out winter, spring, summer, and fall to earn every single penny he is earning.

He realized at the end that his pay per hour is actually higher than the truck driver and his working conditions are much better.

A positive mindset allows a person to have a broad perspective enabling them to see the bigger picture. That’s what my colleague failed to see – the bigger picture. Big-picture thinking is one of the components of what Dr. John Maxwell referred  to as “good thinking.” Dr. Maxwell explained that successful people reached the pinnacle of success because they cultivated “big-picture thinking.” We can choose to do the same.

Factors related to family, school, and environment are considered determinants of the kind of mindset that people possess. How such elements affect them as they grow older could be gleaned from the way they behave, think, and talk.

Mindset could be affected by the culture people have grown into and it could either be positive or negative. Studies done on mindset have established a strong correlation between mindset and achievement and happiness. Needless to say that people with a positive mindset are more successful and live a stress-free life. They have either a flourishing business or a rewarding career (or both) and their personal lives are amazing.

A positive mindset can be cultivated if anyone wants to. But it’s easier said than done. It would take a very strong commitment and determination for it to happen. It will entail hard work. The rewards people with a positive mindset are reaping are not being handed to them in a silver platter. Those are the fruits of the seeds of hard work they have sown.

Dr. Carol S. Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, made a comprehensive study of mindset. Dr. Dweck coined the words “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.” She explained that “In a fixed mindset students [people] believe that their abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. In a growth mindset, students [people] understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”

We need to make a choice between having a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset.”

Learning is a lifelong process. We should never stop acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitude, and values we need.

We never cease to be students. But which kind of student are we – the one with a fixed mindset or with a growth mindset?”


As explained by Dr. Dweck, because people with a “fixed mindset” believe that intelligence and other human traits are static,  they avoid challenges, give up easily, and see the exertion of extra efforts as fruitless and futile. Conversely, people with a “growth mindset” are convinced that human intelligence and other traits can be developed which would lead them to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and see effort as the path to mastery. People with a “fixed mindset” ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others while those with a “growth mindset” learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.


It’s time to evaluate which of the two mindsets you possess. Whether you change it or not is a decision only you can make.

I have been trying to cultivate a positive mindset. It is an ongoing process and I am happy with the results. How I wish I have started doing this when I was younger.

My journey to changing my mindset for the better was  not easy. It made me completely overhaul my way of thinking that was programmed by the environment I have grown into and the kind of education and experiences I had. It is equivalent to getting out of my comfort zone because I have to change the habits and routines that I got accustomed to. But it’s worth a try.

Defining Happiness

smile

What may be considered as the most encompassing definition of happiness was provided by the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. He said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” The Dalai Lama seemed to have concurred when he said that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness.

Life indeed is an endless quest for happiness. People always seek for things that gives them pleasure and enjoyment. They do whatever it takes for them to attain contentment and satisfaction. They enjoy the moments when they feel untroubled, delighted and satisfied.

Happiness may come from different sources. It can be put this way also…that happiness is an effect resulting from different causes. It depends on a person’s beliefs and perspectives. People define happiness in different ways thus they tread different directions when pursuing it. They differ in opinion as to what brings joy and meaning to one’s existence.

Since time immemorial people have been debating whether or not money can buy happiness. The question commonly asked is “Are wealthy people really happy and those who are not unhappy?”

Democritus articulated,“Happiness resides not in possession, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.” In disagreement Albert Camus had this to say, “It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.”

Which of the two contentions would hold water in a world driven by materialism, Democritus’ or that of Camus? Can people be happy without money? Does happiness reside on the things that a person’s wealth would allow him to buy and to own…clothes, jewelry, gadgets, cars?

However a person responds to the questions aforementioned is grounded on his perspectives about life. Whatever a person does to his life is his own prerogative. Believing that money dictates happiness would not make a person bad. And if believing so would make him focus on amassing wealth then fine. People do whatever makes them happy. As Aristotle said, “Happiness depends on ourselves.” How a person gets the money is another question.

Oscar Wilde once said, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” Believe that or would you rather take it from Benjamin Franklin who said, “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness.” He also added that the more of it (money) one has the more one wants.

Here’s another one from Henry David Thoreau… “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” In response, Dennis Waitley explained, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, work or consumed.” In addition, he argued that “happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”

The downside of embracing Thoreau’s thoughts can be summed up in the following question: What happens if you don’t have wealth? Would it mean that those who do not have money cannot fully experience life?

Not everybody can be rich so much so that they can buy beyond what is necessary. Many are content with having just enough. Many live modest lives and they do not complain.

There are people who earn just enough to buy the basic things they need yet they are happy. They live in modest houses, not big mansions and not all of them have cars yet they are satisfied and contended. Why? They don’t have lots of money but perhaps they have love. They chime to George Sand’s idea that there is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved or sing along with The Beatles who, in one of their songs said, “For I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love.”

There are people whose happiness lies not in the material things the world offers. Some people find happiness by helping others. They believe that there is more happiness in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:35). They embrace the idea “Happiness never decreases by being shared (Buddha).”

Some feel ultimate joy when they bask in the glory of their achievements, when they finally get what they have worked so hard to achieve. As Franklin D. Roosevelt puts it, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

However a person wants to achieve happiness is entirely up to him. But as Zig Ziglar pointed out, “Until your are happy with who you are, you will never be happy with what you have.”

We don’t only chart our own destiny but we also define our own happiness. It starts from within. It should not be contingent on anything nor dictated by terms set by other people.

Happiness is a decision we make. “Most folks,” according to Abrham Lincoln, “are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

So, heed Leo Tolstoy’s advise, “If you want to be happy, be.” Remember what Buddha said, “Happiness does  not depend on what you have or who you are; it solely relies on what you think.”

Source: Defining Happiness

%d bloggers like this: