What Is Mindset?

There are almost eight billion people on this planet of ours, and each one of us is different. We all have our own dreams, desires, aspirations, hopes, preferences, talents, and so much more.

There are so many differences between us that it is quite amazing that we are even one species. Perhaps the single biggest difference, and one that sets us apart from one another the most, is mindset.

Even though the human mind is basically the same across different people, the way that each one functions is vastly different. Whoever we are, as individuals, is the result of our individual minds.

This means that all our beliefs, attitudes, thought patterns and other intangible forces inside of us are all defined by our minds. It is these things that are collectively known as a “mindset”.

In very simple words, mindset can be defined as a frame of mind. It is a product of our countless interactions with our surroundings, other people, as well as our genetic makeup.

Fortunately, it is a malleable characteristic and can be shaped according to our will. However, a lot of determination and willpower is required to do so.

Why Is Mindset So Important?

The importance of having a healthy mindset cannot be stressed enough. It directly determines the lives we lead, and we need to be mindful of the kind of mindset we hold.

That can be difficult at times because we may not even know our own default frame of mind. It takes a lot of introspection and talking to the ones that are closest to us to figure out exactly what kind of mindset we harbour in our minds.

Once we are aware of our mindset, we can work upon shaping it the way we want to. Doing so is of utmost importance because, as stated above, it dictates the direction we take in life.

We always assume that it is the outside forces that determine the quality of our lives and the general direction we take, but it is the sum of our internal forces that have the most influence over our lives.

It is only logical to want to have as much control over the different dimensions of life as possible. Everyone wants to live a happy, contented, successful, pleasant and joyous life.

The only way to ensure that that happens is to first make sure we become the masters of our own minds. To do that, we need to chisel away at our mindsets until only the right one remains.

How Your Mindset Affects Your life

It can be said that at any point, our lives are the sum of every single one of our past decisions. Even the smallest of choices can lead us to big consequences, good or bad.

We have all heard of the ‘butterfly effect’ and how one path can lead to another and how that one can lead to yet another and so on. Our decisions are what make us. Plain and simple.

Additionally, if we observe the sheer amount of decisions we have to make each day, it becomes clear how our lives are shaped, one day at a time. That is why it is so crucial to try to make the right decisions. And, if there is one thing that influences our decisions the most, it is our mindset.

Every single action of ours is affected by our inherent beliefs and thought processes, even though we might not realise it while we are undertaking an action.

When we are choosing our major in college, we choose according to our mindset. When we are making friends, we are doing the same. Some of the most important decisions we make are directly influenced by our beliefs and attitudes.

That is why fostering the right mindset right from childhood is one of the most important things we can do. This ensures that we make the right decisions from the very beginning, which reap great results later on in life. As they say, you reap what you sow.

How A Mindset Works

There is a whole science behind how our mindset works, and it is really intriguing. It touches upon the most fundamental workings of our minds and what gives us our individuality.

Scientists have spent decades trying to understand just how our brains work and their relentless research has yielded results that are enlightening, to say the least.

Our brains are made up of billions of tiny cells called neurons. These are responsible for literally all our processing. Our intelligence, the ability to learn, store information, recall information, think, dream and everything else you can imagine happens in the unfathomable web of a hundred billion neurons.

A plethora of neural pathways are created for each of these activities, and electrical impulses travel through these pathways to execute them.

The brain is constantly creating and destroying different neural pathways. Just like other cells in the body are continuously dying and being formed.

The neural pathways that are used the most keep getting stronger, while the ones that are used the least are replaced with something else. This shows that the brain is a highly dynamic system, and that mindset is a malleable characteristic.

The creation of neural pathways gives rise to our thought processes and behaviour patterns. They are affected by the quality of information that we receive from our surroundings.

Over time, we accumulate a whole set of these different patterns and they grow stronger the more we receive validating information. It is these patterns that are used to make decisions or take actions and deal with the outside world.

What Is A Fixed Mindset?

Even though it might seem difficult to segregate the types of mindsets into different categories, the incredible work of some researchers and the insights they have provided have helped in classifying varying mindsets.

Dr. Carol Dweck’s work has especially been remarkable in this field.

Her research into how people view the world around them and their place in it has revealed that there are mainly two types of mindsets that we humans have. They are fixed and growth mindsets.

People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that all our talents and abilities are fairly fixed at birth, and that determines what we can or cannot achieve in our lives. This type of thinking places a ceiling to our achievements.

This stops people from pushing their boundaries and achieving what they could have otherwise achieved. This is a really sad state of affairs as the upper limit that they place on themselves is nothing but an illusion.

It is commonly observed that students who struggle while they’re in school often develop a fixed mindset. The education system that is prevalent in most countries of the world indirectly encourages the development of such thought patterns.

That is because everyone is weighed with the same scale which doesn’t work as we are all unique in our own ways. As Albert Einstein once said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

So, if a child does not do well academically at school, they might grow up to believe that they aren’t good enough. This thinking typically keeps getting stronger as the neural pathways keep getting the same negative affirmation over and over again, that “they are simply not good enough”.

As adults, this shows up in everything that they do. Their work, relationships, finance, career and most other salient aspects of life are all adversely impacted as a result.

What Is A Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset, as the name suggests, is one where we think there is an infinite room for us to learn new things and grow in life. This mindset is perfectly in tune with reality, and if we observe the world around us, we find that most successful people have this kind of mindset.

We all know that life keeps on teaching us one lesson after another. It typically does that by placing obstacles in our path. No matter how hard a problem might seem at the moment, we always manage to pull through.

This happens repeatedly, and it causes us to learn new things, grow stronger mentally and also grow wiser. This is the reality of life. That is why people with a growth mindset are in sync with their surroundings and life itself.

This mindset encourages the growth of new neural pathways that not only enhances a person’s worldview and the ability to deal with a problem but also makes them much better and faster learners.

The most significant benefit, however, is that it allows the person to make meaningful connections across different neural pathways that give rise to brilliant ideas.

This is what today’s world needs. We need great ideas to solve some of the most challenging problems of our time. We need breakthroughs that will catapult us to the next level of technological and scientific advancements.

More importantly, though, we need to make sure that the average human being lives a lot happier and more satisfying life. All of this can happen if only we can transition towards a growth mindset.

Dr Caroline Dweck explains Growth Mindset in this talk she gave for TED

Can Your Mindset Be Changed?

As Dr. Dweck explains, “Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.” This pretty much sums it up. Knowing about the dangers of a fixed mindset, it is only logical that one would want to change it to a growth mindset.

It might require some time and effort, but it can be achieved. And in the end, it would have been well worth it.

To change our mindset, we must first recognize that we have a fixed mindset. As with any other problem, it is the realization that the problem exists, that allows us to solve it in the first place.

So, if we become aware of our fixed mindset, we can anticipate in advance the thought patterns attached to it.

Only then can we move on to the next step where we realize that we have a choice. A choice at every step of the way. A choice to view obstacles either as enslaving chains or as agents of growth.

Slowly but steadily, we must make efforts to embrace challenges and use them as stepping stones to grow into better versions of ourselves. It takes only one taste of growth for it to become an addiction.

One of the most challenging things that we have to do while transitioning to a growth mindset is to silence that inner limiting voice that sees everything with a lens of negativity.

Once that voice is gone, we can start taking growth-oriented actions unhindered. That unlocks one level after the other and before we know it, we are well on our way on the path to growth.

How Your Mindset Changes With Age

Similar to how every other organ and part of our bodies grow and develop as we grow up, our minds develop in their own ways too. At different stages of our lives, we have different mindsets. In fact, it remains a work in progress for a better part of our lives.

When we are young, our minds are much more elastic and the readiness to learn is ever present. During our early years, the mind is like a sponge. It wants to soak up as much information as it possibly can.

This showcases perfectly the innate curiosity that we humans are born with. That is why it is often said that we are natural-born scientists and explorers. We try to make sense of as much as we can.

Growing up, our interactions with our parents, teachers, other children of our age, our surroundings, various incidents that happen to us, all shape our minds in a particular way.

There are so many variables involved that it’s difficult to pinpoint what factors affect the mind in what ways. It is an organic process, and it takes time to develop any mindset.

In our teen years, we form our own independent world views and we learn even more, thanks to more varied events, people and experiences. This is an important phase of life, as it can instill in us some deep-rooted beliefs that can last a lifetime.

When we finally become adults, we hold much firmer beliefs the older we get. This gets to a point where we are no longer open to new ideas. This is also the reason for the age-old debate between old people and young people. Both sets of people claim that the other does not understand them and the world.

How Can You Improve Your Mindset?

Even though it can be difficult to improve or change our mindset as we age, we can certainly do it anyway. What usually lacks is the will to do it, not the ability of the brain to change. As stated above, a mindset is just a set of beliefs that are in our minds.

As we often do with other things, we can simply change our minds too. Of course, it is easier said than done, but if we truly want to reap the benefits of a better mindset, we need to put in the effort.

It takes a lot of determination and grit to change the way we think. It is important to remember that changing a mindset results in a real physical change to the very structure of our brains.

New neural pathways need to be created and old ones need to be replaced. This can only happen with sustained effort as the new neural pathways require constant repetition of the new beliefs to set them in stone. Doing positive daily affirmations can help make a significant difference when trying to alter our mindset.

If we have identified that we want a better, healthier growth mindset, we have already taken that first step towards it. What helps most people is to take inspiration from other successful people who have achieved remarkable things in their lives.

There are many entrepreneurs, scientists, athletes, and other distinguished people throughout history and throughout the world that we can take as examples and follow their words of wisdom.

With a pinch of inspiration, a dash of effort, a sprinkle of willpower and a little garnishing of patience on the side, we can all transition to a better mindset that will lead us to the change we want to bring in our lives.

How Your Mindset Affects Your Success

No matter who we are as individuals, we all have our dreams and desires that we would like to see fulfilled. We all have our own unique ideas about what success means.

We live our lives, day in and day out, and take steady steps in a particular direction, hoping one day we will succeed in our journey and reach the proverbial peak that we have our eyes set on.

Whether we reach there, and to what degree we succeed, is affected largely by our mindset. Right from the get-go, our beliefs dictate our ideas of success.

If we have a limited mindset, we will limit our ideas of success. We would set smaller goals and go after smaller dreams, even if we had the ability to reach for something bigger. On the other hand, if we have a growth mentality, we would want to shoot for the stars.

Also, the journey we embark upon to achieve our dreams will also be largely influenced by our mindsets. We all know that we have to make countless decisions and take non-stop actions day after day to make progress along the path of success.

If we have a positive attitude and view obstacles in our way as learning opportunities, the whole journey will be much smoother and the chances of steering off course would be minimal.

However, if we have a somewhat limiting thought pattern, it would be easy to get discouraged by the challenging times that will inevitably show up along the way.

That would cause us to veer off from the path. Our own minds might end up becoming our worst enemies, leading us to feel lost and stuck. Our mindset really does play a crucial role in determining our success.

How Your Mindset Affects Your Health

Health is one of the most fundamental aspects of human beings. It is rightly said that health is true wealth. Only when we have a healthy body and a healthy mind, will we be able to do anything in life. Even though that is a no-brainer, it is surprising to see that health is one of the most ignored aspects of our lives.

As with everything else, our mindset plays an important role in how we take care of our health. With a negative mindset, health will be the last thing a person will think about. They have neither the time nor the mental capacity to look after their health.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, people with a positive attitude towards life can often be seen exercising, meditating, eating right and practising mindfulness that all contribute towards a happier and successful life.

Not that laziness does not affect these people. It does. But since they have a growth mentality, they want to keep seeing development in their health too, and this quickly motivates them to get back on the literal as well as the proverbial treadmill.

It has also been shown that our mental status directly affects how well our bodies function. Negative emotions like sadness, anxiety, anger all have adverse impacts on our internal organs and can even lead to serious disorders.

Whereas, positive emotions can keep everything functioning well. They don’t say “laughter is the best medicine” for nothing!

How Long Does It Take To Change Your Mindset?

Any change requires time. Something as huge as a mindset change takes a considerable amount of time. There is no one size fits all kind of answer for how long it takes. It depends on the individual.

For some, it might take a month. For others, it might take a year. It all depends on how badly we want the change to happen.

If we want it badly enough, we will do whatever we can to make it happen. We ensure that no negative thoughts and emotions bind us anymore, and that we take deliberate action to clean up our lives. We make amends where we have to and do everything in our power to reinvent ourselves.

Even when the old patterns of limitations and scarcity try to resurface, we swiftly shut them down. With constant effort, sooner or later, the change inevitably happens.

Also, as stated earlier, we must remember that changing a mindset requires a literal physical change in the structure of our brains. New thinking patterns need to be hard-wired and that takes a lot of shifts in the existing neural pathways.

As these new patterns get more and more validated, they become the “default settings” of the brain. This happens gradually over a certain period of time and there is no single “light bulb” moment when the change occurs.

Will Changing My Mindset Improve My Life?

By now, it’s pretty obvious that changing our mindset to a healthier one improves our lives. There are so many benefits it is ridiculous not to have one.

Some benefits are obvious, but some others are much more subtle and they can only be realized in hindsight. Ultimately, a good mindset will lead to a good life, and that is all we should be concerned with.

We all have one life to live, and we all have a limited amount of time on this planet. It totally depends on us what we make of our lives and how we use our time.

We owe it to ourselves to realise our dreams and leave behind a legacy for the next generation to build on. The price of not doing all of that is unbearable regret in the last phase of our lives.

None of us want to go through that. That is why it is vital that we waste no time at all to start changing our mindset so that we can start walking on the right path. At the end of this path lies everything that we have ever wished for.

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