The way that we explain events that occur in our lives can directly affect our well-being. Developing a Growth Mindset will help you effectively navigate both positive and negative events, generate greater resilience, and transform your overall health.
Carol Dweck, PhD, one of the leading researchers on motivation, distinguishes between two mindsets in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She describes the different narratives that go through the minds of “learners and non-learners” and the different languages they use to describe themselves and events that happen in their lives. She explains:
1) A person with a Growth Mindset sees their ability as changeable, which can be developed through learning and can blossom with time. This is a person who understands effort is necessary for growth, and they thrive on challenges.
2) A person with a Fixed Mindset sees their ability as fixed, which comes naturally and needs to be proven. This is a person who is not satisfied with success, being smart, or being talented, but feels the need to be flawless. They expect the ability to show up on its own before any learning takes place.
When it comes to making a new healthy habit, we can be rather hard on ourselves, expecting the ability to come naturally. And when we don’t succeed in making the change on the first, second, or third try, the failure has a huge mental impact on our perceived ability to succeed, and we give up.
A Growth Mindset toward health allows the flexibility for a “start where you are and grow from there” approach to change. It helps you to develop a growth language so that you explain the events that happen in your life using a learning vocabulary.
Have self-compassion and be patient with yourself, know that making permanent changes is challenging, but through consistency, the effort you make will enhance your quality of life.
- Choose your words wisely. The words that you choose are extremely important; when thinking about cultivating your ability to grow in health, use the words grow, learn, develop, and stretch, instead of I should have, I could have, I didn’t.
- Open the door to change. Create opportunities of growth by changing your explanatory style. (i.e., instead of I can’t, say, I can’t yet. Instead of I haven’t done it, say, I haven’t done it yet). Give yourself flexibility to grow by adding learning vocabulary when you are explaining areas of your life that you want to improve.
- Study A Growth Mindset further. This week, read the first chapter of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. I challenge you to do it even if you sit in Barnes & Noble and read it.