Do you ever think that your mindset could impact your success, failure, even your health? Your thoughts could hold a lot more power than you think over your life. You may be familiar with the term mindset. It tends to pop up in fitness, work, and personal development. But what actually is your mindset, and how can it influence your life? Read to find out the power of your mindset.
What is mindset?
Your mindset is a set of thoughts and beliefs that shape your thought habits. These habits then affect how you think and feel. Essentially, your mindset is how you perceive the world and make sense of everything around you. The set of attitudes you hold can impact everything you experience and even how you respond to certain situations.
It’s easy to brush off the power of mindset. But research over the last thirty years shows that a person’s mindset or expectation of healing can be strong. You can see this in the placebo effect. Several studies show that the placebo effect is real and delivers measurable physiological changes. Placebo’s nemesis, nocebo, also shows the potential power of the mind. When people think that a treatment is harmful, they are more likely to experience negative side effects.
The placebo effect is mysterious, yet it shows just how the mind can impact your reality in a very real way, especially your health. But mindset can have a powerful effect on your learning, success, and even your sense of belonging.
Fixed vs. growth mindset
When talking about mindset, it’s important to understand the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.” Psychologist Carol Dweck at Stanford University coined both terms. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your qualities are fixed and unchangeable. You’re either good at something or not, and that’s it.
Instead, Carol explains that “in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.”
If you have a growth mindset, you think that you can get smarter or that it’s never too late to learn something new. You are more open to learning, reflecting, and growing. Failure is less threatening because you view it as a learning opportunity. You learn from the success of others rather than feeling threatened. With a fixed mindset, you feel like the ability to change is just hopeless.
Neuroplasticity and encouraging a growth mindset
The amazing thing about mindset is that they are entirely changeable. No one is perfect, and as much as you can try to have a more positive mindset, some of those days get you down. But knowing that you can do something about it is powerful.
Initially, scientists thought that your brain stopped developing in adolescence. Recent advancements in neuroscience show that the brain is malleable and adapts to changes in your environment. This means that your brain continues to be active and is essentially a learning machine throughout your life. Scientists refer to your brain's ability to change in response to your experience as neuroplasticity. The connectivity between neural pathways can change with experience.
So, why does this matter?
Neuroplasticity is important because it means that you can influence your brain development throughout life. Because of the way you can build neural pathways, you can heal from past traumas. Traumatic events and emotional trauma can alter the connections in your brain. You can see this in research into survivors of a major earthquake. Neuroplasty could be a powerful ally for healing trauma.
By understanding that the brain can grow and change as you get older, it opens up the opportunity for you to change your mindset and heal. The more you know about the way your brain works, the more you can grow, get stronger, and improve your overall well-being.
How to promote neuroplasticity for a more positive mindset
When you challenge yourself with new experiences or learn something new, your brain will adapt to your environment. Your thoughts are not predetermined or set in stone. You can take an active role in building a more positive mindset. If you’re like most people, you’re probably your own worst enemy. The next time you catch yourself in self-doubt, identify and challenge the thought, and focus on gratitude to gradually shift your thinking.
Cognitive therapy is built on the premise that you can challenge self-defeating thoughts and modify distorted thinking. You can learn effective techniques and shift your thinking to self-serving thoughts. Think about the way you look at failure. By moving your perspective to viewing failures as opportunities, you can encourage a growth mindset.
There’s research that actually shows the health benefits of positive thinking, like:
- Reduce stress
- Better resistance to the common cold
- Better coping skills
- Lower anxiety
- Increase in positive emotions
Your thoughts turn into physical sensations. Think about a time that you felt nervous or anxious; you can identify that feeling in your body. When you’re biting your nails, fidgeting, or your heart is beating so fast it might come out of your chest, your body is entangled with your thoughts.
Mindset, positive thinking, whatever you want to call it, it’s clear that your thoughts are powerful. The reality is that your mindset isn’t final. You can grow, heal, learn, and find inner peace at any stage in your life.
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