Stoic Growth Mindset
In our fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, often forgetting to live in the present moment while striving for our future goals. It's crucial to develop a mindset that not only allows us to build for the future but also enables us to relish the beauty of the here and now. In this article, we'll explore the significance of mindset, its impact on our lives and relationships, and the tools to help us attain equanimity.
The Power of Mindset
You are lucky enough to be the only animal on earth that can choose how you think or feel about everything you experience. Thanks to its prefrontal cortex, the human mind is a remarkable tool that grants us this unique ability. This extraordinary power is the linchpin to becoming the individuals we aspire to be. While it may not be easy, understanding this power is potent. It can be the key to leading an empowered, content life with deep, meaningful connections. It takes us out of the automatic, reactive responses of our "chimp brain" and places us firmly in the present moment.
As Shakespeare put it, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Our mindset shapes our perception of the world, and without the right mindset, nothing else truly matters.
Misconceptions of Happiness
Think about the people in your life or those you see in the public eye who seem to have everything one might desire for a fulfilling life. Do you ever catch yourself thinking, "If only I had what they have, everything would be perfect"? Surprisingly, many of these individuals aren't any happier than you or I. In fact, they often find themselves miserable despite their good looks, wealth and assets.
This paradox underscores the importance of mindset. Without the right mental foundation, you risk setting yourself up for failure. But here's the good news: you can change your mindset and create lasting, positive change in your life. You don't have to buy a host of fancy new products to achieve. The bad news is that, in all transparency, for most people, it does take some work.
Chasing happiness itself may in and of itself be a shaky foundation for a mindset. Would it be better for happiness to be an accidental by product of living an empowered life?
Five Ingredients to a Stoic Growth Mindset
- Be Happy with Less: Focusing on what you have and being grateful for it can lead to greater contentment. Material possessions should not be the source of our happiness.
- Don't Worry about What You Can't Control: Stoics understood the futility of worrying about things beyond their control. Instead, they concentrated on their thoughts and actions, leading to strength and inner peace.
- Focus on Your Own Performance: You have control over your effort and the quality of your work, but not over external factors. Concentrate on doing your best, and accept that some things are beyond your control.
- Choose Your Emotions: Emotions are a product of our interpretations of reality. You can choose how you feel about a situation by changing your perspective.
- Memento Mori: Remember, you must die. Acknowledging the inevitability of death helps us appreciate the present and live life to the fullest.
The Road to Self-Understanding
To embark on this journey of mindset transformation, you must start with a deep understanding of yourself. You need to develop emotional intelligence to recognise how you impact others and become conscious of your thoughts as they arise. Two daily habits that can significantly aid in this self-discovery process are journaling and meditation.
Journaling: By regularly jotting down your thoughts and experiences, you can track your progress, reflect on your actions, and hold yourself accountable. Journaling becomes a mirror through which you can analyse your journey to a better mindset.
Meditation: This practice allows you to realise that you are not your thoughts; rather, your thoughts happen to you. You have the power to choose how you process these thoughts. When you combine journaling and meditation, you free yourself from the constraints of your hardwiring and enable yourself to respond consciously rather than being controlled by your emotions.
Reframing: Could the majority of our problems come from unrealistic expectations? Often, our displeasure in life comes from a dissonance between expectations and reality. If we reframe obstacles and shortcomings as opportunities to learn and grow, not only do we extract the positives from adversity, but we can use them as fuel to continuously improve.
The Smile Challenge
A simple exercise to understand the impact of your demeanour on others is the "Smile Challenge." Try this: for a day, greet every human interaction with the biggest smile you can muster without crossing into the territory of seeming strange. The following day, maintain a neutral, medium-energy approach without any smiles. Pay close attention to the reactions you receive. You'll quickly realise that when you smile, the world smiles with you. Remember, you tend to get back what you give out, so challenge yourself to be a giver, even on days when you may need to fake it – you'll often find that it lifts your own spirits as well.
Your mindset is the compass that guides your journey in life. It influences how you experience the present, build for the future, and connect with the world around you. With the right mindset, grounded in self-awareness and fuelled by the power of choice, you can create a life of fulfilment, growth, and meaningful connections. Start your journey today, and watch as the world changes along with you.