There are many times when we struggle in some area of our lives. Not major struggles – but simply little blocks that keep us from showing up fully in life.
And studies show that it could be because of our mindset, which is simply the lens with which we view the world. We all have it – an evolutionary design that helps us function in the barrage of endless and often conflicting information coming at us all day.
But our mindset can also affect us in negative ways, as in how long we persist towards our goals, how we view people and events, and how we experience life on a daily basis.
Let me explain. So just for a minute, assume that you’re struggling to stick to your goal of eating healthy. And its because you feel deprived and hungry after your bowl of salad leaves and find it next to impossible to stay away from the scrumptious double chocolate cake in the fridge.
Guess what? Research shows that it has to do with our mindset with regards to healthy eating. For as long as we can remember, we’ve been inundated with subtle and not so subtle messaging of how healthy eating is boring, uninviting, and well – healthy. It can make us feel good, but it also makes us feel deprived.
Another study showed that hotel room attendants who were told that their jobs were a great source of exercise (given that they were on their feet all day) lost more weight than those who thought they got no exercise.
The list of how mindset affects our psychology AND our physiology is long. A mindset of stress being harmful leads to physiological changes that affect our health. A mindset of gender as being disempowering leads to behaviors that close us down. A mindset of time running out lessens our happiness in the present moment.
And Stanford Professor of Psychology Dr. Alia Crum’s research shows that mindsets, unlike beliefs, (that are more deeply ingrained and harder to shift), are often simply based on labels or norms in society. Which means that they are not a reflection of reality, nor are they contingent on the truth.
As such, we can choose the mindset that’s best for us and others in any given situation.
Here’s how this piece of research has helped me. I’ve alas always been conscious about my hair and longed for hair that was thick, bouncy and abundant. Sidenote – I grew up on a diet of Dallas replays, salivating daily over Lucy’s luxurious locks! (remember JR’s Ewing’s niece?)
But this piece of research reminded me that it was my mindset that was leading to such an adverse relationship with my hair. For multiple (external) reasons, none of which was based on the absolute truth, I had the mindset that a woman’s hair was her crowning glory, and this mindset wasn’t serving me well.
This realization helped me take charge of something that was largely out of my control. And I began to realize that one, it really wasn’t that bad after all! And two, that in the larger scheme of things, it wasn’t all that important either.
So take a moment to think about your own life.
What’s a problem with which you’re struggling? It could be in persisting towards a goal, in showing up a certain way, or in truly experiencing life.
What’s the mindset with which you’re approaching this problem? What lens are you using to view it, or what are you saying to yourself about it?
Is this mindset helping you function at your best? Is it helping you pursue your goals, take risks, or show up fully in life?
And finally, what tweaks can you make to your mindset to empower yourself, enhance your experience of life, or reach your well-intentioned goals?
Because remember that mindsets have physiological and psychological effects that impact our behaviors and shape our reality. And given that the world is complex and paradoxical, it’s important to keep them fluid so we stay flexible and adaptable in this one wild and unpredictable life.