5 Mindset Shifts That Will Change Your Life | Healthy Living
We often hear the phrase, Mindset is everything. But how impactful can mindset be? To answer this question I want to state a study conducted by a research institute in America, where they tracked 30,000 participants for 8 years. The participants were asked two questions: ‘How much stress did you experience in the past year?’ and ‘Do you believe that stress is bad for you?’ And then they used public death records to find out who died.
The results of the study were extremely shocking and unexpected. It showed that the people who experienced a lot of stress in the past years had a 43% increased risk of dying. But the catch is, these were also people who thought that stress was bad for them. On the other hand, people who experienced a lot of stress yet possessed the mindset that stress was not bad for them had the lowest death rates, even lower than those who experienced less amount of stress.
Our minds are much more powerful than we give them credit for. The beliefs that you hold can shape your identity, your health, and your life. So you can see how incredibly important it is that we adopt mindsets and beliefs that help us move forward towards creating the life that we want. Here I’ll explain how to change your mindset to adopt beliefs that will help you live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled life:
Change Your Perception of Success
If I were to ask you, “how would you define success?”, what would your answer be? When we think of success the most common picture that comes to mind is a person who has a lot of money, or power, or both. Like Oprah, or if you want to dive into fiction, Frank Underwood from House of Cards would probably tell you he is very successful. But that is not a definition of success I can no longer agree on.
There’s a short audio clip that I listened to on Youtube a couple of years ago called ‘The Strangest Secret’ by Earl Nightingale. This clip completely shifted my perception of success. According to Earl, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”. What it essentially means is if you are working towards a worthy end goal, something you truly desire, you not successful only once you achieve that goal. Instead, you are successful in every step you take towards building that vision, no matter how insignificant your actions may seem.
Nothing can match the joy of achieving something you have wanted for a long time, but we often ignore the grueling hard work and dedication it requires each day to finally transform that dream into a reality. If you consider yourself to be successful only once you achieve that goal, and refuse to recognize the progress you made or the effort you had to put along the way, it can cause you to give up very quickly which is a mistake I made often. So keep track of each small achievement you made in your journey towards the life you want to create. Realize that each of those achievements will slowly build your vision and are worthy of your recognition.
How To Be Happy: Stop Playing The If-then Game
Would you say that you are currently happy with your life? If not, then why? Is there something that you want and do you think achieving it would make you happy?
Some of us have a habit of imposing conditions on our happiness and mental peace. Maybe you want to travel more but you can’t because you are currently studying and don’t have a job yet. So you tell yourself, “When I finish my degree and save enough money to travel then I’ll be happy”. When I lose x pounds, then I’ll be happy. When I buy that house, get that partner, receive that promotion, then I’ll be happy. Do you notice a pattern in these words?
This if-then game is something we are constantly playing and it’s a game that we are never winning. Because what happens when you do buy that house, get that partner, secure that job? In my experience, the heart always craves more and the if-then game starts all over again. The tragic truth is, some people continue playing this game until they find themselves standing at the edge of their graves.
Instead of constantly chasing happiness is there any way we can shift our mindset and train it to stop viewing happiness as conditional and start looking for the things that we have over the things that we lack? Maybe you don’t have enough money to travel outside of the country but is there any way you can become a tourist in your own country? Maybe you haven’t found the one yet, but can you fill that love that you crave by loving yourself and surrounding yourself with supportive friends?
Remember that happiness is not out there waiting to be caught. Place your palm over your chest. The happiness that you seek lies right there, inside the beating drum underneath your ribcage.
I think one of the dark sides of the self-improvement movement is forced positivity. The idea that you have to be positive 24/7, and you deserve to be rebuked for an ounce of negativity. The notion that you are not allowed to feel anger, frustration, or sadness even if you hit rock bottom in life.
I believe that the preachers of positivity do have good intentions in mind. They try to push people to stop constantly filling their heads with self-doubt, self-pity, second-guessing, and all the other negative feelings that hold them back. Positivity was originally meant to inspire people to stand up when life knocked them down instead of staying down. But we often misinterpreted it as, “I am not allowed to feel anything other than joy, hope or other similar emotions’ and feel like a failure when we can’t reach those high standards we set for ourselves.
The truth is it is not practical to be positive all the time and it is completely normal to feel down when we are met with failure or disappointment. It is not a sin to feel negative, instead what matters is instead of wallowing in that feeling of negativity and allowing it to consume ourselves, we eventually pull ourselves back together and continue to move forward.
Changing How You Respond To Failure
Have you ever been guilty of saying the following things to yourself: “Oh my god, I am a complete idiot” when say or do something that you think is stupid in a social situation. Saying “I am so stupid” when you fail a test or saying “I am pathetic” when you can’t control yourself from eating too much junk food. All these sentences have one thing in common. They intensify the feeling of shame.
Shame is an extremely toxic feeling. It is the feeling that we are inherently flawed, that we are not good enough, not talented enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not perfect enough. And this emotion can have an extremely detrimental effect on our psychological well-being leading to depression, suicide, aggression, violence, and bullying.
Now don’t worry, I am not about to preach to you to stop negative self-talk. But what we want to do is to replace shame with the feeling of guilt. Guilt is also an uncomfortable and negative feeling, but the distinction between shame and guilt is shame enforces the idea that we are inherently flawed while guilt makes us feel that our behavior is flawed. Shame is a focus on self, while guilt is a focus on behavior.
Why is this distinction so important? Because shame convinces us that since we are fundamentally flawed in our core there is nothing we can do to change. But guilt puts the spotlight on our behavior, and we know that behavior can be changed and corrected.
How can you switch our mindset to respond to failure with guilt instead of shame? There are two ways you can do this:
- Make a simple switch in your language. Suppose you are trying to eat healthier, but you accidentally finished at an entire bag of chips last night in one sitting. Instead of saying, “I am fat” or “I am pathetic” say “I shouldn’t have eaten that entire bag of chips. I should have put the chips in a bowl or placed them somewhere out of my immediate reach so I am less likely to reach for them when hunger strikes.”
- Sometimes we are so consumed with shame that a simple switch in language doesn’t seem to have any effect. Author and psychologist Brené Brown in her book ‘Book name and link’ secrecy and suffering in silence intensifies the feeling of shame and causes us to become engulfed with this toxic emotion. Instead what we should do is practice vulnerability. We should speak to someone who will listen without judgment about our shame and we allow ourselves to be seen and heard. We often refrain from being vulnerable because we think it makes us appear weak, when in fact it is the most courageous thing we can do.
If you are someone who is suffering from shame and are looking to find a way out of its grasps, I recommend you read the book, by Brené Brown where she explores the topic in so much depth. She is an excellent author and storyteller and in her book, she teaches how to overcome fear and practice being vulnerable.
Do what’s best for you, but at what cost?
You must learn to value yourself. Don’t care what other people think. You must do what’s best for you. This is a very popular slogan in the self-improvement community. And I think it is very important to make choices that help you live the life that you want, not the life someone else wants you to live. But from my experience what a lot of people take away from the words I’ve mentioned is, to be happy and successful you must completely disregard the needs and feelings of the people around you, and do what serves you and only you.
Imagine a hypothetical scenario where your boss is asking you to take a certain action and in return, she promises you the promotion you’ve been waiting for quite a while. But if you choose to do as you are told, a colleague of yours will be fired despite not being guilty of anything. If you choose to deny, your friend won’t lose her job but you won’t get the promotion.
In this case, doing what’s immediately best for you would be doing what your boss asked of you. But is it the best choice for the long term? As human beings we are capable of feeling guilt and empathy (not considering the case of a sociopath) and making the choice do to what’s best for us, despite our actions causing a lot of pain in someone else’s life, will give birth to a tiny spark of guilt. Continuing to make the same choice throughout our lives will cause these little pieces of guilt to accumulate and ultimately at one stage, destroy our mental and psychological peace.
We live in a society which sometimes, tends to undervalue selflessness, but in my experience being selfless and acting without self-interest to lift others is the highest expression of self-love and self-care.
So, to wrap up we should change how we define success and recognize each step we take towards our end goal as victories in their own right, stop imposing condition on happiness, switch shame with guilt, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We should stop making ourselves feel guilty for feeling down and treat ourselves with compassion as we pull ourselves together to get back up. And lastly, we should do what’s best for us, but consider the consequences of our actions on the people around us.
Which of these mindsets do you think will bring the most positive impact on your life? Tell me in the comments below.
About The Author
I’m Zarnaz. I’m a self help junkie, caffeine addict, writer, engineer and I’m extremely passionate about the science of people. I want to know what inspires you, motivates you, drives you to make better choices and ultimately, how to help you reach your full potential. This is a blog dedicated to that cause.