The mind is powerful, so much so that what you think and believe drastically changes your reality.
I’m not talking about Shaolin monks controlling objects with their thoughts or people who believe if they focus on an outcome hard enough, it will happen. I’m referring to the subtleties of your mindset and how they can either make your life a living hell or easier.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the placebo effect; people feel better by merely believing they’re receiving treatment for their issue. The phenomenon at work here is that your mindset affects your life so much that your body physically reacts.
With your beliefs being so powerful, there’s one question to ask: What are your mindsets about life?
Do they inspire growth?
Or do they keep you stuck in a vicious cycle of pity and defeat?
For a long time, I was in the latter. I fell victim to depression and my eating disorder. I thought I’d forever be repeating unhealthy dating patterns. I felt like life was happening to me, not for me.
But then I started to make little changes simply on how I saw life and things got instantly better.
The good news is that if you are thinking as I did, the solution is easy. There are simple mindset shifts that anyone can make while going about their day.
And the results of these shifts can drastically change your life.
1. Seeing life’s stresses as blessings.
One day when I was living in China, I visited the beach. I made the classic mistake of leaving my backpack — containing my phone, wallet, and DSLR camera — on the shore. By the time I came back from swimming, my backpack was stolen.
What followed was a crazy story involving the police, an abandoned warehouse, and running around China in bathing suit bottoms (because my clothes were also in my backpack).
I cried in the shower that night, distraught that everything I owned was gone.
But the facts I looked past mattered more: I could afford to buy a new phone, I was privileged to be able to travel, and I was healthy enough to run around rural China looking for all my things.
People often see everyday parts of life as stresses.
“Ugh, another bill.”
“Shit! A parking ticket.”
But you can reframe your mind about how you see these inevitables. Bills are a sign you’re able to afford electricity and water. A parking ticket means you’re lucky enough to be able to own a car.
After that day in China, I decided never to let the little stresses in life get to me. I couldn’t control them, and the fact is, they were only indicators of how lucky I am.
2. Thinking, “We’re on the same team.”
Conflict is what starts wars and ends marriages.
People don’t know how to communicate, plain and simple. But what really gets me is that most of the time, people want the same end goal.
They want to feel understood.
They want to feel respected.
Or they both want the same outcome, i.e. getting the damn dishes clean.
But rather than seeing themselves as being on the same team, they view communication as being on opposing sides. Whether it be with a colleague or your partner, you both have the same end goal: restoring peace, solving a problem, overcoming a challenge, etc.
Instead of seeing who can shout the loudest, recognize that you’re both on the same team.
3. Changing “Why me?” to “What is this teaching me?”
There isn’t a malicious life genie trying to make your time in this world a living hell.
Life is not happening to you; your mindset is what makes it seem that way.
Everyone is thrown less-than-stellar obstacles. Shit happens. It’s impossible to go through life without a few bumps or mountains.
But rather than seeing yourself as a victim to life, see things from a new angle. Think to yourself, “What is this struggle teaching me?”
Growth comes from going through hard times. We can’t learn a lesson if we don’t actually go through the lesson. If life were easy, we’d all remain stagnant instead of becoming more aware, happier versions of ourselves.
Instead of feeling helpless about everything that happens to you, confront your challenges. Think about what you need to do differently next time. Consider how you might be holding yourself back from what you want.
Setbacks are only temporary if you let them be.
4. Seeing rejection as life telling you what isn’t meant for you.
The moments after being rejected can feel like your world is ending.
But this is because you see rejection as personal. And maybe sometimes it is, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s because of things like mismatched values, clashing personalities, or lack of interest. In the long run, this break up is a great thing. Now you can go out into the world and find someone better suited for you.
If a job interview ends with the company hiring someone else, it’s again because your values don’t match up or you lack the necessary skills. You can either work to obtain what they’re looking for and reapply in the future or go with a different company.
Either way, that job and the relationship weren’t meant for you. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you; instead, something doesn’t suit you.
5. Realizing happiness isn’t a destination.
I fell for this idea when I was young, and I’m sure you did too.
I truly believed once I graduated from college and landed a job, it would be smooth sailing from there. When that didn’t happen, I longed for the days of marrying and finally having my happily ever after.
But then I got to reading, talking, and sharing stories. That’s when I realized there is no final destination in life. At no point is happiness going to magically come forever.
The best part of this realization, though, is that happiness is something you can have every day.
You have to live life in the present. We have no idea how many days we have left on this planet.
Which is why happiness is something you have to cultivate for yourself. That’s done by doing hobbies you love, spending time with your friends, and taking care of yourself.
Believing you must suffer to be later happy is rubbish. Happiness is something you can and should have every day.
6. Understanding how loving is more important than being loved
There is a very stark difference between these two, and not enough people make that distinction.
Growing up, we’re taught about love through our parents. They give and don’t expect grand gestures of love in return.
Then we grow up, believing that to find a partner, we must be lovable. Men chase high-paying jobs to impress; women seek to be seen as beautiful.
And all of this focuses on one thing: being loved.
That’s why, time and time again, people get into relationships and argue about not feeling like they are actually loved. We’re taught to seek love, but not how to give it.
Focusing on giving love to friends, partners, colleagues, and our parents creates more love and happiness in your life. Instead of seeking approval, you’re creating more of what you deeply desire.
This isn’t to say you should give love to someone that never reciprocates it. But too often people withhold love and focus on only taking, perpetuating their feeling of being unsatisfied.
Our beliefs can either be what holds us back or helps us grow.
While the power they hold is strong, it only takes subtle shifts to change them. Practice these different mindsets regularly and you’ll see a drastic change in your life for the better.