Growth mindset isn’t magic. Dang. Well, if it can’t solve all our problems, then what else do we need?
A Mindset of Optimism
Believing that things will work out insulates you from The Nag. You know The Nag. It’s that voice inside you that tells you to stop, give up and watch television. Optimism trains you to see success as possible – the perfect antidote to a voice that says it’s impossible. Plus, it feels great to know that you are awesome now and will be better later.
Of course, optimism makes you stupid. Too much will make you leap from buildings or attempt surgery. A realistic appraisal is valuable, even if it doesn’t feel as nice. How do you know whether optimism is pushing you to grow, or driving you to disaster?
Here’s a trick I picked up. It involves cycling through optimism and pessimism to get the benefits of each:
- Unleash your optimism. Think of something awesome you want to do. Don’t let reality get in the way – if you could do anything, what would you pick?
- Inject some pessimism. What are five things that could go wrong with this idea?
- Bring back the optimism. What are two or three strategies to offset each risk above?
That leaves you with a pretty good idea on if this idea is feasible. Not only that, it gives you a plan on how to proceed.
A Mindset of Gratitude
Again, it feels great. And it kills The Nag dead. The Nag likes to moan and complain. Being grateful boosts your mind and body by focusing on resources, not threats.
If optimism makes you stupid, gratitude makes you lazy. Hate your job? Well, maybe you should be grateful instead. After all, there are people with no job at all, ever think of that? So, no, there’s no need to look for a new one. Or change in any way. Be happy with what you have.
Gratitude is about celebrating abundance. If something is robbing you, don’t celebrate it. Every moment and everything has something small to be grateful about, but that doesn’t mean that every aspect of it is good. A job brings money and dignity, and you can appreciate that. But if a job leaves you stressed and miserable, seek to change that. And be grateful that you have the ability to notice when things suck and to change some of them.
A Mindset of Service
The idea that you live to serve others is a strong one. This is not the mindset of a slave, as you choose who you serve and how. What it does is it trains you to notice opportunities to help others. Helping others feels good and can be financially rewarding.
Take this too far and you will burn out. Not to mention that people may take advantage of you.
- You can only serve when you also serve yourself. Keep yourself fresh and healthy. Wrecking your physical and mental health helps no one.
- The world is a crowded place. More people would appreciate your help than you can get to in a lifetime. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate your efforts or tries to take advantage should be cut away. Be ruthless, as you are working towards a higher cause.
A Mindset of Mindfulness
Being mindful has enormous benefits, from reducing stress to slowing down time. (Also: it feels great).
Some Buddhists complain about the way the West treats mindfulness. In Buddhism, it is a core part of your existence. In the West, it is a commodity. You pay for a class or vacation, do some mindful thinking, and then go back to your daily grind.
Mindfulness is a mindset, not a hobby. It is something you do several times a day, until you start doing it most of the time.
- Set a reminder. You could use a post-it note, a timed popup on your computer or a scribble on the back of your hand.
- When you notice your reminder, pay attention to your next breath. Keep a gentle focus as you breathe in, then breathe out. At first, one breath is enough, though you can build that up in time.
I’m curious – what have I missed? Got any good mindsets you like to keep in your back pocket?