…And Now for a Quick Change of Mindset
Read Time: 9 minutes, 6 seconds
The mindset that permits mindfulness is aware and accepting of the here-and-now; it is non-judgmental and alert. Those characteristics of awareness, acceptance, presence, and freedom from judgment permit a growth mindset, which enables you to see possibilities, learn from mistakes and embrace challenges.
Accept What You Can’t Control
Planes will be delayed, whether you rant and rave or accept the delay. People will ignore your instructions, whether you berate them or patiently show them where they went wrong. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control the amount of stress and frustration that you feel and their ill effects on your mind, body, and relationships with others.
Of course, if you’re a control freak, that might not matter:
Wanna hear a joke about a control freak? Yes, you do.
You might fight the truth of your own helplessness to move traffic faster, to make people obey you, to have everything turn out exactly the way you want. That fight will drain you without changing the situation. If you shift your mindset to accepting what you cannot control, you free up your energy and, just maybe, find a path forward.
TIP: One way to change your mindset is to challenge yourself to find three things every day that go right. Maybe you made a green light during your commute; maybe afternoon, your coffee was hot enough; maybe you finished your walk before it rained. Look for the right stuff.
Believe in Your Happiness
Daniel Gilbert, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard, has researched how people can become happier. He points to the prefrontal cortex as the place where human beings “simulate” the future. Surprisingly, his research found that both negative events (becoming paraplegic) and positive events (winning the lottery) ultimately have the same effect on the feeling of happiness, as people adapt and change their mindset. He says, “We synthesize happiness.”
Synthetic happiness—when you are happy for what you do not get—is just as real as the happiness you experience when you get exactly what you want.
Today I donated my watch, phone, and $500 to a poor guy. You wouldn’t believe the happiness I felt as he slid the pistol back into his pocket.
Researchers have discovered that a positive attitude increases the immunoglobulins, which protect you against disease and infection. A negative mindset has profound negative effects on your health, even leading to an earlier death. It is worthwhile on many levels to strive for happiness.
TIP: After a negative event or the loss of what you hoped for, you cannot rush happiness—even synthetic happiness takes time.
If you go through life on autopilot, you will repeat behaviors without ever wondering if a change in mindset might change the outcome.
For example, some people faced with a setback blame others or fate or say, “That’s just the way I am.” Others faced with a setback recognize their contribution and the opportunities that abound around them. They look clearly at their present and find clues for changing their future.
The same situations have different meanings for different people depending on their mindset. Where some are caught on autopilot of repetition, others see possibilities.
I have amnesia and déjà vu: I think I’ve forgotten this before.
Catastrophizing—focusing on everything that can go wrong or all the obstacles before you—is overwhelming. Your brain contains what scientists call a “default mode network” that become active in the brain’s resting state. One definition for this resting state is “Random Episodic Silent Thinking about one’s life and experiences.” When your default mode leads you to dwell on all the failures and mistakes of the past and catastrophize about the future, your stress naturally increases.
The act of thinking positively rather than negatively requires attention, repetition, and determination.
- First, recognize the negative default thought (be present).
- Next, consider how it restricts your life and prospects.
- Finally, make a deliberate effort to switch to a positive thought.
For example, You are not a failure; you may have failed now, but you will succeed next time. You are not unlovable; the right people will love you.
So, all the natural disasters took a vote to see which one was the worst.
* Hurricane blew the others away.
* Earthquake shook things up pretty badly.
* Flooding was a bit of a wash.
* Blizzard almost buried the rest.
* Sinkhole’s campaign totally collapsed.
* Meteor made a deep impact.
But in the end, Avalanche won by a landslide.
If a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step, then that first step means your mindset has changed from “I’ll never do this” to “I’ve started.” Don’t wait until you feel optimism, self-efficacy, and positivity; take that first step, and the change in mindset will naturally follow.
Your first action may consist of adding exercise to your life, taking charge of your schedule, finding your core values, prioritizing your goals, and using other SMaRT strategies that give you direction along with the time and energy to pursue that direction. If you make one change, others will follow.
An engineer dies and goes to hell. He’s hot and miserable, so he decides to take action. The A/C has been busted for a long time, so he fixes it. Things cool down quickly. The moving walkway motor is jammed, so he unjams it. People can get from place to place more easily. The TV was grainy and unclear, so he fixes the connection to the satellite dish, and now they get hundreds of high def channels.
One day, God decides to look down on Hell to see how his grand design is working out and notices that everyone is happy and enjoying umbrella drinks. He asks the Devil, what’s up? The Devil says, “Things are great down here since you sent us an engineer.” “What?” says God. “An engineer? I didn’t send you one of those. That must have been a mistake. Send him upstairs immediately.” The Devil responds, “No way. We want to keep our engineer. We like him.” God demands, “If you don’t send him to me immediately, I’ll sue!” The Devil laughs. “Where are you going to get a lawyer?”
TIP: Be careful about refusing to change because you have already sunk so much time, energy, and money into your current situation. If you are headed in the wrong direction, it will still be wrong if you double your investment.
Avoid Negative People
Negative people create negativity. Negative people find it hard to offer support to others, they need others to feel as negative as they do, and they catastrophize. By surrounding yourself with negative people, you feel unsupported, pressured, and constantly stressed. You may find yourself in their mindset despite your best efforts.
If you cannot walk away from negative people (for example, your teammates or coworkers), try to reward only their positive comments while responding neutrally to their negative comments (“uh-huh” or “I see”) and refusing to engage. You might also prepare some conversation changers.
A good psychologist once advised me to shut out all the negative people that remind me of my dark past and move on.
It’s been more than a month since I’ve gone to him, and I am already starting to feel better.
To change your mindset, you must be present enough to recognize when you are slipping into negativity and catastrophizing. The more you try to control the actions of others, the more you depend on some future turn of events for your happiness, the more frustration and stress you will feel. By creating a positive mindset, you move ever closer to a positive future.