Inside: Mindset is everything. Here are 5 simple strategies to improve your mindset when you’re struggling.
Our coach’s shrill whistle signaled to us that practice was over. We all gathered around her at half-court. She gave us some feedback and instruction about our efforts that day, she ended with a quote I’ve never forgotten.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
That was the year, age 14, that I really began to struggle with my confidence. I didn’t believe in myself nearly enough.
And while that quote helped me to begin understanding that my mindset mattered, it would be years before I truly understood that mindset is everything.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.Henry Ford
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What Is Mindset?
Mindset refers to your beliefs and thoughts. Your mindset is everything because it will shape your thought patterns, how you see yourself, your life, and the world.
Your mindset will determine how you tackle each day, how you handle problems, and what you think you can (or can’t) do.
Mindset is everything because it’s the filter through which you view everything.
Why Is Mindset Important In Life?
Your mindset, and how you view yourself, creates your approach to life. It determines how you view the future and how you navigate.
Your mindset sets the tone for how you respond to everything, from your belief in your abilities, how you handle setbacks, adversity and challenges, and the actions you take (or don’t take.)
A success mindset is important for strong self-esteem and confidence.
With a success mindset, you believe you are in control. You believe in yourself and your abilities. Even when facing setbacks, you know you can overcome them and still achieve your goals and dreams.
Yes, success takes hard work, perseverance, and sometimes even risk. But when you possess a success mindset then you believe you are capable and anything.
It’s Okay If Your Mindset Needs Improvement
Some people are naturally upbeat and positive. I used to work for a man that had a great mindset. Even when the company we worked for was going through struggles and employee morale was way down, his mindset was everything, and it showed.
No matter what was happening at work, when anyone asked how he was doing, his response was always the same:
“I’m living the dream.”
And yeah, some people probably thought it was a little cheesy. But you know what? He was successful. He didn’t let the external circumstances get him down too low or too long. Even when things were really stressful, he inspired people and lifted them up.
But a lot of us aren’t naturally wired that way. Or we grew up in very “glass-half-full” environments, so a growth mindset seems foreign to us.
I get it. I had to do a lot of work around my mindset. And it’s an ongoing process.
But no matter what, you can change your mindset. It takes work, but you can do it.
How to Have a Success Mindset
My real work in changing my mindset and learning how to think positively began when I was 20.
I was very much a “glass-half-full” person. I approached every situation fearfully and negatively.
Then one day, my then-boyfriend, who was a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, got sick of my negativity.
He bought me a copy of a book that really opened my eyes to the power of mindset.
It’s called “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.
And while it’s an old book, the concept still rings true: Our thoughts are powerful and play a significant role in creating our reality in life.
Since then, I’ve been a student, learning as much as I can about how mindset is everything in our lives. At times, I’ve fallen into old patterns of thinking negatively, because old patterns can be hard to break. But I’ve found five strategies that work well when it comes to changing my mindset.
5 Strategies to Improve Your Mindset
1. Start With Gratitude
Gratitude is simply the practice of being thankful. When you think about it, there is always something to be grateful for. What are the things that make you happy? Give you peace? Bring you joy?
It can be as simple as being grateful for blue skies and sunshine. Or that you can pay your bills.
Each day, make a list of things you are grateful for. Sometimes, the simplest things are the best. I almost always include my gratitude for my family and friends when I’m writing my gratitude list.
2. Feel Good
You can change your mindset by activating your “good” feelings. Try to feel good about things in your life, even when things seem hard. Much like when you are practicing gratitude, look for the simplest things.
What makes you laugh or lifts you up? Do you have a friend that is always positive and upbeat? Call them for a boost. Now – don’t be a downer or inundate them with complaints. Instead, use that conversation to lift you up. Have you ever had a friend that always made you feel re-energized after talking? Talk to a friend like that.
Watch a comedy or an inspirational movie. People watch – little kids and babies always make me smile. So do animals. Simply spending time with my pets can lift my spirits and help me start feeling good.
Move your body. Go for a walk or run. Put on some music and dance. Figure out what raises your spirits and do that. Because when you feel good, it shifts your mindset into a more positive one. Then the more you are feeling good, the easier it is to stay in that state of mind.
3. Act “As If”
Sometimes it’s just hard to feel good. I get that. And I have a strategy to overcome those times when it’s just so hard to find anything good: Act “as if.”
It sounds crazy, but it works.
Years ago, I went through a bad break-up. My boyfriend dumped me and I was heartbroken. I was also working for an Ad Agency with a client from hell. She was awful to work with and I dreaded going into the office every day.
My friend and co-worker was also in a bad place, emotionally. So we devised a plan. We called it “The Fake Happy.”
We pretended to be happy. Giddy, almost. It really started out as a joke. We would talk to each other and act “as if” everything in our lives was perfect.
We laughed about it at first. But something funny happened. Because we were pretending and even laughing about this ridiculous exercise we were doing, we started feeling genuinely happy.
Little by little, those “Fake Happy” emotions activated something in us that transformed into authentically positive feelings. We started noticing more good things in our lives and therefore attracting more good things.
It didn’t take long before those “Fake Happy” feelings were very real.
While it sounds really cheesy, it can work. The next time you are feeling down, try acting “as if” you are on top of the world and everything is going your way. Give it a try, even if it’s for just five or ten minutes. See what happens.
4. Use Positive Affirmations
I love using positive affirmations, which are positively-framed statements used to change your mindset and overcome negative thinking patterns. And yes, there is neuroscience to support this.
Examples of positive affirmations are:
- I believe I can do anything.
- I have everything I need to have a great day.
- Everything is working out for my highest good.
- I am creative and successful and can overcome any challenges I face.
Visualization is an effective method for changing your mindset. Visualizing what you want to accomplish trains your brain to look for evidence of whatever it is you are wanting.
Say you are wanting to run a 5k, but running doesn’t come easy for you. You need to get your mindset right to accomplish this goal.
Visualize it. Close your eyes and see yourself running effortlessly. Really feel your body moving in a rhythm, feel your feet strike the ground and the breeze on your face. Imagine that it feels effortless. Think about how good you feel, physically and emotionally, after your run is complete.
Visualizing yourself successful in what you want opens your mind up to possibilities and helps give you the energy and motivation to keep working on your goals, knowing that you can and will get there.
You can use visualization exercises for anything. Relationships, career, fitness, or finances.
Mindset Is Everything When You’re Making Big Changes
Mindset was something I had to learn. In fact, I’m still learning. The concept of mindset and how my mindset matters so much in life was not something I grew up with.
My experiences growing up were colored with thoughts and phrases about life being hard and not expecting too much.
So I let obstacles and issues hold me back. I didn’t go for bigger things because I didn’t think I could. I didn’t have the right mindset.
Even though I’ve been working on a success mindset for years, and I’ve made progress, it’s still a challenge at times. I have a lot of undoing to do. It takes intention to work for me to keep a positive mindset and work on improving my thoughts.
I’m in a phase of making big, positive changes in my life. When you’re making big changes for the better, mindset is more important than ever.
Sometimes it feels like you are literally going against the grain of your true nature. It feels hard to move forward at times.
That’s normal. When that happens, just remember to focus on these key five strategies: Gratitude, Feeling Good, Acting as If, Positive Affirmations, and Visualization.
They are some of the simplest ways to change and improve mindset, no matter where you are in life.
Remember, anything is possible. Your thoughts are powerful. Mindset is everything.
And whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.