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.