Attitude of growth

To live well is to embrace change. Constant change is the natural state of the universe; nothing is permanent. If we cannot accept or adapt to this fact then we are less likely to experience happiness and wellbeing.

One of the key attitudes for resilience and thus happiness is the “growth mindset”.

When we adopt a growth mindset we are more resilient and we are committed to a process of continuous learning. We are better able to manage change and uncertainty, which in turn means that we are more likely to experience happiness in our lives.

A growth mindset is a much better predictor of success and happiness in life than IQ.

People with a growth mindset believe that they have a higher degree of control of their lives, a greater sense of agency. They are proactive. They accept responsibility for their errors, their successes, their feelings and their actions. They do not blame other people or life or for how they feel. They understand that they do not control all of the circumstances in their lives but rather understand and accept that they are responsible for how they respond to these circumstances. They are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. People with a growth mindset embrace challenges; they see these challenges as opportunities to grow. They accept their mistakes, learn from them, and they are more likely to turn experience into wisdom.

If we are not constantly growing then we are doomed to stagnate. Our lives become smaller, more fearful. We sacrifice aliveness and growth for a false sense of security.

Growth mindset is forward-looking. It is an attitude of open curiosity and coupled with a desire to learn, it also includes attitudes of gratitude and courage.  It is a desire to constantly evolve to keep growing as a person. I see this particularly when I work with addiction. The people who are more likely to have long-term success are those who take on board what we teach and adopt an attitude of constant personal growth. The focus tends to be more on the process than the outcome.

The alternative to this growth mindset is known as the fixed mindset which is usually backwards looking. The person with a fixed mindset experiences a reduced sense of agency. Much time and energy is spent trying to keep things the same. Change is often seen as something to be avoided. Often people in this position will nostalgically hark back to a golden age that simply never existed. It is a fear of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone − fear of the new, of change. In its worse possible manifestation the fixed mindset becomes the victim mindset, where we feel completely at the effect of external events and other people. There is a sense of powerlessness which can spin off into anger, anxiety and depression.

Like resilience skills, the growth mindset can be developed.

Here are some key attitudes to develop the growth mindset:

  1. See challenges as opportunities: Life is a series of problems; solve one and the universe will send you another. If you don’t solve it you have to repeat until you do. Embrace the opportunity.
  2. Be flexible: If a strategy or tactic does not work, try another. (Most people do not do this; they simply do more of the same ineffective strategy.)
  3. Fail vs learn: When a strategy does not work then see it as learning, not failure. Get the lesson and move on.
  4. Stop seeking approval: You only have this life, this moment. Do not waste it looking for the approval of others. Find your own way, your own truth. Expect to feel different or uncomfortable sometimes.
  5. Process vs result: Focus on the process, focus on getting right the stuff in front of you rather than the result.
  6. Take responsibility: You are responsible for your feelings, emotions and actions. Do not blame. Take responsibility and choose your response. You always have a choice.

Finally, in life be proactive rather than reactive.

Reactive people blame circumstances, conditions and their conditioning. Proactive people’s behaviour is a product of their conscious choice based on their values. Reactive people’s behaviour is a product of their conditions based on feelings. Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, but their response is a value-based choice.

You are currently viewing Attitude of growth