Mindset is most commonly put into two distinct categories.
A fixed mindset means we view ourselves as unchanging, our qualities are what they are, and people with this outlook often feel the need to prove themselves. People in this camp are also often afraid to make mistakes.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, embraces the outlook that we can all improve and change with the right actions and some effort. People with this mindset see challenges as room for growth and they are more resilient to hardships.
Breaking it down like this, it’s not hard to see why those with a growth mindset would have an enhanced sense of risk-taking, better work relationships, higher performance levels, and less stress and anxiety. This mindset is also associated with improved brain development from specific tasks. Students with a growth-mindest have a higher sense of free will and show higher levels of achievement.
Some of us may not always feel naturally growth-minded though, I get that. The good news is that we are able to cultivate more positivity and unlock personal success through the right steps.
One is to recognize the way a challenge is making us feel and instead reframe it as an opportunity, making a point to find out what we can learn from the experience. Another is focusing on the journey and not the destination—we can learn so much from whatever steps we take to reach a goal or complete a project, that even if we don’t get the outcome we hoped for we can still gain valuable insights.
One of my favorite ways to support a growth mindset is by paying attention to my thoughts and words. When times get tough it can be easy to fall into a pattern of using negative words, internally and externally, and the brain’s default mode network may even take over and subconsciously keep those unhelpful patterns flowing. If we can make the effort to recognize those times, find out what the negative thought or feeling is stemming from, and correct it with a growth-oriented statement, it’s possible to re-train the brain to a more positive default.
Last week I sat down with Tom Bilyeu, a filmmaker and serial entrepreneur who is passionate about teaching people how to adopt an empowered mindset. Tom shared his personal story with me, of chasing happiness through money and becoming emotionally bankrupt. He discovered the only belief that truly matters is believing we can improve, and he explains how a growth-mindset helped him discover his true passion, real happiness, and success all in one.
I hope you’ll tune in to my recent podcast episode to learn more about taking control of your mindset and creating the life you want.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD