Your mindset has a profound impact on your behavior and perspective of the world around you. This can affect everyone around you, so it’s important to take care of your mindset.
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at how to improve your mindset.
How to Improve Your Mindset
You can’t underestimate mindset. There are a lot of things you may need to help you overcome a hardship, a substance addiction, or a mental disorder.
You may need medication. You may need the help of trained professionals. You may need emotional support or material support from people around you. You may very well not be able to do it all on your own – there are many things that simply can’t be accomplished alone. But you do have to be able to contribute to the resolution of these problems, and that starts with your own mindset. Because if your mind is in a negative place and it doesn’t match your aspirations, it will hold you back, no matter how much outside help you have. So, while it’s fine – and often necessary – not to be completely self-reliant, it’s also important to work on yourself, starting with bringing yourself into a mindset that matches what you want out of your life. And don’t worry, if you don’t have that now, you can improve it. You have power over your mindset, you just have to know how to unlock that power.
Here’s how to improve your mindset.
Work on Your Language
Both how you talk to others and how you talk to yourself can have an outsized impact on the way you feel and the actions you’re able to take. Do you tell yourself that you’re not good enough? Do you tell others about your (real or perceived) shortcomings and complain about your hardships? Maybe it’s time to stop.
The thing is that words have meaning, and our brains understand them. So, the more we hear certain words, internally or externally, the more we tend to believe them. They’re being reinforced every time we say them. So if you’re constantly telling yourself, “I’m so bad at this,” or “I’ll never be able to do that,” your mind will start to believe those statements. Thanks to a part of your brain called the reticular activating system, it will even begin to look for things that confirm and reaffirm those statements.
The same is true when you’re constantly complaining about your life. Venting about a laundry list of problems may feel therapeutic (and can be in moderation) but remember that your brain not only believes what it hears, but it also looks for confirmation of what it hears – and it filters out things that tend to deny what it already believes. So, when you complain a lot, your brain will look for more reasons to complain and proof of what you’re already complaining about, and it will filter out things that you instead should be proud of or grateful for.
Try telling yourself what you can do instead of what you can’t do. Don’t cut yourself down when talking to other people in the name of modesty – say “thank you” to compliments instead, and incorporate those compliments in the way that you talk about yourself. And while no one can expect you to never complain about things that are wrong in your life, spend as much or more time talking about the things that are right – when someone asks you what you’ve been doing, list the accomplishments, the things that you’re proud of, and the things that you’re grateful for.
You might feel a little bit silly at first – if you’re used to talking and thinking down about yourself, positive talk can feel forced and fake. But if you stick to it, your brain will begin to believe it and will search for confirmation the same way that it searched for confirmation of the negative things, and it will seem more natural to use positive language about yourself.
Act As If
Essentially, “acting as if” means acting like you already have the thing you want. It can be shockingly effective. For example, if what you want is to get through a public speech, like a eulogy or a wedding toast, but you’re nervous about it, you would act as if you’re not nervous. What would someone who was comfortable with this situation do? What would they look like? Where would they stand? How would they carry themselves? Picture those things, then do that. Tell yourself you’re acting the role of a person about to give a speech. Before you know it, you’ll be doing it – and no one will be able to tell that you’re acting.
This can work in a lot of situations. Act as if you want to go to the gym, even if you hate exercise. Act as if you’re not interested in alcohol, even though the liquor store down the street is a huge temptation. Act as if it’s natural to be open and honest with your therapist, even though you’re used to hiding your feelings. Another way of saying it is “fake it till you make it”. It’s a bit of a mental trick because once you’ve made it, you realize that you didn’t really fake it, after all, you just thought of it that way so that you could do it.
Do Something for Somebody, Quick
Some days are just harder than others for getting your mind right. Maybe something happened to bring you down, or maybe you just woke up in low spirits. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a quick fix that can put you in a positive headspace right away? Turns out, there is.
In the poem “Do Something”, the author tells various people that doing something good for somebody is a “lovely trick” that can “bring contentment if anything can”. And you may be tempted to dismiss this as a Hallmark sentiment, but it’s not – there’s science behind it. Doing good deeds for others can produce a “helper’s high” releasing endorphins in your brain that can lift your spirits right away. Over the long term, such good deeds also improve your self-esteem, make you feel more confident, decrease your stress, increase your life expectancy, boost your mental health, and make you happier overall. It can also help you make friends.
So, if you need a quick fix of happiness, you don’t have to look far to find it – do something for someone else. This shouldn’t be hard, someone always needs or wants something. Bring a partner their breakfast in bed. Help a neighbor who seems to be struggling with their groceries. Donate something to a person or organization who needs it more. Find a volunteer opportunity. Buy an unexpected gift for a friend. Call your parents just to say “I love you”. It can be anything, really – if you can make someone else feel good, you’ll feel good too. And once you feel better, you’ll be better able to work on other mindset issues.
Improving your mindset is one aspect of improving yourself and achieving a better life. The Heights can help you on the journey of overcoming hardships, working on yourself, and creating the life that you want to have.