20 Mindsets to Adopt Right Now For Results
Our mind can be our greatest ally.. And our most formidable nemesis. Fine-tuning and refining your thought processes can be the north star when it comes to not only continued, meaningful results – but also a more pleasant and fulfilling journey.
A healthy mindset will help get you through the dips of life.. Your challenges when crap hits the fan (which is a matter of “when”, not “if”).
There are several crucial ways in which you can change your “self coaching” signal to help rewire your brain towards action.
The problem with this type of transformation is that the brain wires itself to inputs. If you’ve been bombarded with negative/counterproductive messaging for years, this won’t work like a switch. It takes a fair bit of coaxing and practice to lay down those new connections.
On any given day we experience about 16 thousand thoughts… most of these are negative, and even MORE of them are the same thoughts day in and day out. We have a lot of crap to sift through..
A lot of misconceptions may arise when you think about “mindset”.
- “Positive vibes only, amiright?” Not exactly.
- “I just need a “can do” attitude in every situation, right?” Mostly, but not always.
- “I need motivational memes with mantras/Rumi and sunsets, yeah?” No.
- “I just have to get my mind right and then I’ll be able to take some action”. Quite the opposite.
We will unpack these misconceptions in a bit, but first let’s take a look at the nuts and bolts of all things healthy mindset.
Your Mind: Under Construction
One of the first tenants of mindset is the reality that your brain is plastic – capable of change, rewiring and growth. Thanks to research in the area of neuroplasticity (the capability of our brains to change) and the emerging mainstream/educational institutions’ promotion of “growth mindsets” (Thanks to the work of Carol Dwek, Angela Duckworth and others), this concept is gaining steam.
Essentially, we can benefit from what’s called “Hebb’s Law” which states that neurons that fire together, wire together (as in forming a “good” habit). Conversely, what “un-fires” also “un-wires” (as in kicking “bad” habits). Your brain wires itself to what you constantly do – including the messages you send it.
In plain language: You CAN change your thoughts and actions. Very cool!
It does indeed take time as there may be years of dysfunctional wiring to undo. Be patient with the process and keep working at it. I promise you the efforts will be worth it.
A Healthy Mindset =/= “Positive Vibes”
It’s tempting to equate a healthy or positive mindset with “positive vibes only”, or some such crunchy variant but this is mostly bunkum.
Of course framing our situations in a more positive way can be helpful, as can a resilient disposition. The problem with the so termed “toxic positivity” mentality (the belief that one should have a positive attitude regardless of the situation or the pain they may be in) is multi-pronged:
- It can perpetuate denial
- It can interfere with your ability to be authentically with your experiences
- It blinds you to the clarity of seeing the bigger picture and getting to the root of an issue.
To quote Dr. Susan David (I dedicated the majority of a blog post to her work here), emotions are neither good, nor bad and we need to see the world as it is.. Not how we wish it would be. This is called “mental contrasting” – the ability to have a healthy blend of levity and gravity – the foresight to see obstacles. To see the iceberg 5 nautical miles ahead and plan accordingly instead of thinking you are unsinkable all the time.
Positive affirmations are in the same doomed boat (last Titanic reference, I promise). The reason positive affirmations aren’t effective is that they are surface level – targeting the conscious mind. It becomes incongruent with deeply held beliefs and can perpetuate the war within.
In short it may be worse for those who need the most help with defeatist thinking.
And while pithy quotes to the backdrops of sunsets (or Instagram models) may give us a temporary lift or food for thought – those too are fleeting and don’t offer any deeply meaningful benefit.
Action First, Action Always
One of the traps we fall into when trying to change ourselves for the better is the belief that we have to get our minds right before we embark on our health mission. It’s usually quite the opposite. The right action will beget the right mindset. Taking deliberate action is what will wire our brains in a more productive way.
Take a small action and take that action often. Put your shoes on, grab an apple, do 10 push-ups. Keep repeating these tasks – knowing that you’re wiring yourself towards productive and health-enhancing habits.
Stop thinking, stop planning, stop contemplating, stop ruminating. Just do.
The “Big Rocks” of Mindset Shifts: Privilege, Agency and Identity
The 3 major categories of mindset refining are: Privilege, agency and identity. There are many situational examples, but the cornerstone of most mindset changes lie in having an appreciation for your opportunities, an internal locus of control and an alignment with our values.
If you are reading this from a mobile or a laptop, chance are you are in a position to be able to provide food for yourself (and family) and have the capacity to engage in some healthy habits. When we start framing our health pursuits as privileges, we help make the journey easier. We acknowledge that our healthy lifestyle is not only a privilege, but also a responsibility.
This is a belief that you are in control when it comes to the direction of your life. An internal locus of control is knowing that you have a great deal of say when it comes to making changes to your body.
You are not the passive recipient of what life and health has in store for you. You make things happen, you are in control and you are fully capable of adapting/shifting/responding when things go sideways in life.
This is the very core of your personal values – an immutable personal truth that your health is a sacred value and will always be a priority. You identify as someone who values and pursues health. Your health is central to your being – even when it can’t be tended to every day of your life.
Armed with this basic framework, we can now build healthier mindsets through reframing and story editing.
20 Mindset Frames For Sustainable Success
Here it is, the 20 most powerful story editing mindsets to adopt (or reconnect with) that are grounded in privilege, agency and identity. These are just some examples but you can use these kinds of templates to better develop your framing skills.
- What a privilege it is to be able to focus on my health.
- What a privilege it is to have access to so much healthy food.
- What a privilege it is to be able to move my body.. Even if there are limitations.
- What a privilege it is to be able to role model health to my children/family/friends.
- I am choosing to eat the stirfry and opting out of dessert tonight. I will have other opportunities to have delicious desserts.
- I am choosing to train today – even though I’m tired
- I am choosing to have this delicious homemade brownie as I believe in balance. I am also choosing to not feel guilty about it.
- I am choosing to be curious about my cravings.
- I have control and many options and pathways towards better health.
- I am bigger than this moment of weakness.
- It will be a little more effort, but I’m going to choose the grocery store for some easy-to-prepare meals instead of the drive thru.
- Going for a walk after dinner aligns with who I am at the core.
- I don’t miss more than one workout in a week.
- I’m on vacation and I’ve eaten healthfully leading up to this week. I’m going to indulge a little but stay true to who I am and keep active and eat healthfully.
- I really overdid things tonight. Tomorrow is another day, however and I’m ready to re-align with who I am.
- I couldn’t get to the gym today, but I can do a quick/intense full body workout before dinner.
- I fully accept myself and I’m proud of the work I’ve been putting in. It looks like I’ll have to turn things up just a bit more to see better results.
- I am stressed and emotionally drained. I’m curious as to why I’m craving such rich food right now. I wonder if there’s a better option. What do I really need?
- Being with these particular friends usually leads to overdoing the drinks and food. I’m going to have one drink, no appetizers and no dessert. I will politely decline when asked.
- I can’t run 5k continuously yet, but I’ll get there.
You will face resistance when trying to adopt these mindsets. You will have old justifications, defaults and other forces pushing you in the wrong direction. Stop, take a deep breath and reframe, re-focus and find the best alternative. Your current voice – your current mindset has to become stronger than those whisperings of your default subconscious.
Your efforts will fail you sometimes. Your journey will be filled with bumps, setbacks and other life things. In the past, you would simply fall back into those old patterns. Not this time. This time is different. This time, you’re prepared. This time, you will respond with action, you will remind yourself that you have opportunities, you are in control, you are meant to be healthy and you deserve the pursuit of health.