Starting New by Adopting a Growth Mindset

Summer in here! Any change of season is a time for us to start fresh, and make new goals, including many health and lifestyle changes.

But, there is no magic pill to achieve this – a body in balance takes time and effort.

Much of our success is based on our thoughts – positive or negative.  Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed and growth mindsets and describes them in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, a fixed mindset focus is on willpower and the qualities that we feel cannot change – such as intelligence and personality traits, and that it’s simply willpower that will make them successful in achieving their goals. People who think in a fixed mindset interpret a setback as a failure and they are not strong or not competent enough.

On the other hand, a growth mindset adopts the belief that one can improve through effort and by working out strategies that work best.  Growth mindset embraces struggles, challenges, and setbacks as a lessons learned.

As a teacher, I often incorporated growth mindset into my teaching practice to help students realize that although they might struggle, with the right amount of perseverance, dedication and motivation, they can succeed in their learning.  Neuroscience research highlights the concept of neuroplasticity – which tells us that that the brain has the ability to change, adapt, and rewire itself throughout our lives. One repeated thought or action that we have increases its power – why not make your thoughts and actions support your mental health and physical well-being?

When making lifestyle changing goals, challenges will happen. We are not striving for 100% perfection. There will be times when we want to go back to our old ways, but we realize that they no longer serve us. We know that the choices we make over time will ultimately help us achieve our desired goals.

The chart below illuminates the choices we can make in the quality of our thoughts and helps us to foster a growth mindset.  Dweck reminds that if we change our inner narrative, we can change our mindset.  What goal will you make this week?

Fixed Mindset

Instead of thinking…

Growth Mindset

Think…

 

I’m bored of what I’m eating. I can review my favorite recipes or try making a new one.
There are too many changes happening at one time. What one specific goal can I achieve this week (e.g., drink more water, exercise twice this week, etc.)?
I need my comfort foods! These are the snacks that I can eat when I get cravings.

 

I can nurture myself in other ways. I can go for a walk, listen to music, read a book…

I made a mistake. I may have gotten off course, but I’ll get back on track with my next meal.
I don’t like how I look. My progress is slow, but I will reach my goal.
I’m not ready to eliminate all these foods from my diet. I can eliminate one food at a time, at my own pace.
I’m depriving myself. I can make a comfort food that I love with ingredients that honor my body.