What is a mindset? Your mindset is your belief about yourself and the influence you have over your circumstances. One can have a fixed or a growth mindset. Your mindset is important because it affects your response to the inevitable challenges we face as humans.
As you may have guessed, our fixed mindset humans are not happy, they are the world’s victims who believe there is nothing they can do to change their lot in life and judges of themselves and others. Happy humans have the opposite view, challenges are opportunities to grow, to learn a new skill or develop their strength.
Just a reminder why you should care about being happy – happiness affects your success in your job, career, business, health, marriage, friendships, even your creativity. Happiness is not something you achieve when you are successful; you are successful because you are happy. Positive psychology researchers did a meta analysis of every scientific study on happiness and found that happy people are successful in all areas of life.
If you have always been a miserable bugger don’t despair – you can train your brain to be happy to. We used to believe that once you passed a certain age intelligence and learning new skills was fixed. Good old science again (thanks to the study of London cabbies) discovered neuroplasticity – our brains can change in response to our beliefs and actions. So you, yes you miserable buggers CAN retrain your brain to be more positive, optimistic, resilient and creative.
This is what you do:
- Change your expectations – changing your expectations can have a dramatic effect on life, and you can see changes both physically and mentally – your perspective can change the way you experience life. Ellen Langer conducted an experiment in 1979 with 75 year old men. They had to spend one week living as if it were 1959. They were immersed in their 1959 experience, wore the clothes, pretended to go to the jobs they had and talk about it as if it was 1959, listened to the music, read the papers – it was as if they travelled back in time to 1959. At the end of one week, they were visibly younger, eyesight improved, posture improved, aches and pains disappeared – in one week their brain told their body you are 20 years younger and the body said ok, and just like that they were.
- Cultivate optimism by believing you can influence outcomes by the action you take. This means moving out of the” Victim-hood” into Hero-Ville”. Victims have no power to resist what life throws at them – they accept it and move from one sad story to the next – you know them the complainers – the negative nellies – the ones who light up a room when they leave. Heroes fight no matter how much the odds are stacked against them, they may be smaller with less resources, but they find a way to use their strength to win the day. Heroes believe that they can win and they try different strategies until they do win (or die trying).
- Reframe challenges, disappointment, mistakes, failure, obstacles – don’t run from them, run towards them, these are the stepping stones to a happier fuller life. If you think about it, life would be so boring if everything worked out exactly the way we wanted it. Once you achieve something Hedonic adaptation takes over and it loses its shine pretty quickly. These are opportunities for growth, to use your strength, to learn a new skill. And if you find your challenges are the same you are doing it wrong – you are on a hamster wheel of death. You will know when you are on the right path when you experience bigger, more juicy challenges. I listen to Brian Johnson from team Heroic a lot and he says, say to life “Bring It On”. When I am faced with a challenge I rub my hands together, crack my fingers and say “Bring It On, I will not lose this fight”. I learn what I need to learn and move to fuck on.
- Believe you can enhance your abilities. We already discussed neuroplasticity and we have seen Ellen Langer prove that what we feed our brain affects us physically. You need to understand that the only limits you have are what you believe you can achieve and what you are willing to work towards. Shawn Actor in his wonderful book The Happiness Advantage said – “We do not know the limit of human potential. We do not know the potential of how our brain can grow and adapt to changing circumstances”. Remember before Roger Bannister ran the mile in less than 4 minutes – everyone thought it was impossible, then one athlete after the other started doing it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Please share with someone who you think deserves to be a little more happy in their life.
If you would like to work with me on enhancing your happiness let’s have “coffee”.