“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
– William James
The biggest barrier to fixing our health and feeling well is mindset. In today’s new fast paced world, we are constantly looking for a quick fix for everything including our health issues. We are in continuous search of a miracle pill, or even a natural supplement, that will cure all. The problem with this mentality is that most of our health problems are a result of years of poor diet and lifestyle choices and therefore we need to put in the time to reverse the effects of this. We need to gradually and consistently adopt new habits with the goal of creating a healthier lifestyle and then only can we experience a significant change in our well-being.
This is where most people get stuck! They either have it in their mind that they can not change or they try to change but give up when they do not see immediate results. This is what Carol Dweck, PhD, author, psychology professor at Stanford University and leading researcher in the field of motivation calls a “Fixed Mindset”. The belief that your intelligence, character traits and therefore performance in life, are all fixed and can not be altered. This ideology could not be farther from the truth and we need to debunk it if we want to succeed at achieving our health goals and all goals for that matter.
This is where the “Growth Mindset” comes in and why it is so critical to achieving good health. Contrary to a fixed mindset, a growth mindset believes that characteristics and habits can be worked on and cultivated. If you require a more scientific explanation to validate this, Dr. Norman Doidge writes about the brains ability to change in his book “The Brain’s Way of Healing”. He describes neuroplasticity as “the property of the brain that enables it to change its own structure and functioning in response to activity and mental experience”. In other words, the brain is more than capable of creating new neural pathways and changing its beliefs and old patterns of behaviour with effort.
A growth mindset is focused on small, regular gains, sustained commitment and an understanding that success is seen over time – the exact mentality you need when trying to tackle your health woes! The reason why people with fixed mindsets fail is because they would never consider putting in that much hard work. They need to see results immediately and because in their minds, traits are inherent and can’t be developed, anything less than extraordinary results the first time around would mean they were inferior. Not wanting to admit this to themselves or to others, they give up too early. “In the fixed mindset everything is about outcome”, Dweck says and if you fail it means you’re not the best at something and the entire process has been a waste.
On the other hand, the reason why people with a growth mindset succeed at achieving their wellness goals is because their focus is on learning new things and developing themselves, regardless of the outcome. This mindset allows people to see value in the lifestyle changes they are making irrespective of the end result. They end up enjoying learning about new healthy habits, incorporating them into their day-to-day lives and witnessing small wins. This devotion to the process, as opposed to the result, enables them to stick with it and this is the place where desired outcomes are achieved!
“For twenty years, research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
― Carol Dweck
So let me ask you this, is good health something you value?
Yours in growth,
The Well Girl
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge