“Understand: you are one of a kind. Your character traits are a kind of chemical mix that will never be repeated in history. There are ideas unique to you, a specific rhythm and perspective that are your strengths, not your weaknesses. You must not be afraid of your uniqueness and you must care less and less what people think of you.”
You know that saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” That saying has perpetuated a myth that the old dogs’ brain has hardened in ways that make him unable to learn anything new. For many decades the scientific community thought this to be true — of animals and people alike. But, as science has progressed, we’ve found that simply isn’t reality.
Modern neuroscience has proven that our brains are more malleable than we could have ever imagined—well into later stages of life. We can teach an old dog new tricks!
Still, many of us get down when we face the difficulties of learning new skills or mastering old ones. We blame the rapidly evolving technology environment, or job competition, or lagging energy levels for our failings. But we don’t need to. All we need to do is adopt a growth mindset and we can learn and grow as we please.
The Growth Mindset
The idea of a growth mindset came from the famous Stanford researcher, Carol Dweck. Dweck and her team stumbled upon the phenomenon when observing students and their various responses to failure. Why was it, they wondered, that some students could bounce back from a setback like nothing happened, while others sulked and fumed when obstacles fell in their way?
It wasn’t the magnitude of the setback, nor the consequences of the setbacks that determined the student’s responding behaviors—rather, it was their mindsets. Some students had a fixed mindset while others had a growth mindset. The ones with a fixed mindset believed that capabilities are innate and were sure that no matter how hard they tried, they wouldn’t be able to do anything about their failures. The growth mindset kids believed that they could eventually learn to do anything if they put in effort and practice.
How to Get Your Own Growth Mindset
If you don’t already have a growth mindset, there is good news– developing one isn’t too hard! The real struggle comes down to alleviating the shame and embarrassment we feel around failure and set-backs.
1. First, we should acknowledge our set-backs or unfavorable circumstances. We don’t want to call them failures, though. We want to call them learning opportunities. Marvel at the processes more than the results.
2. Now we want to acknowledge any shame that might accompany those learning opportunities. This is a key step because it alleviates lingering embarrassment.
3. Next, laugh it off! You can either laugh it off by yourself or with others. We recommend finding others who are non-judgmental and supportive who you can laugh with. This helps normalise laughing at your setbacks and helps give you perspective.
4. View your setback as an opportunity. At least, it’s a great story to tell! At most, it’s an opportunity to learn where you can improve.
5. Reflect. If your setback took place in a business setting, make sure to take note of it so you can avoid it in the future!
6. Lastly, and most importantly, stay curious. Never lose your sense of wonder for the world. Never stop wanting to know more…
Whenever you encounter a new challenge, respond to your fixed mindset thoughts with growth mindset and take the growth mindset action!
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
We’re living through strange and unprecedented times. Many of us are worrying about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our loved ones, our own health, our employment and our finances. And with the lockdown in many parts of the world many of us can’t see family and friends for the foreseeable future. Not surprisingly, we might be feeling a bit blue…
What can we do to cheers up ourselves and others around you?
Here are a few ideas for staying positive during this unsettling time:
Join the Teddy Bear Hunt in your neighbourhood. Prop a teddy bear from a window of your home (or car), visible from the road so little kids (and not-so-little adults)could play teddy bear spotting when they go for walks with their families around the neighbourhood
Don’t have a teddy bear at home? Make rainbows or display any other colourful drawings and positive messages on your windows.
Tune your singing voice, polish your dancing moves and join the #QuarantineChallenge2K20 with your nearest and dearest.
I like this quote by Ram Dass, though not all people I see as trees. Some are more like bushes to me, others – tumbleweeds that roll wherever wind blows them… with neither roots, nor attachments in life…
Tomas and Sabina from ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ look like such tumbleweeds to me… so light, so fun and always on the run to flee any attachments and stay free… A very heavy burden for demisexual Tereza who can’t separate sexual attraction and lust from love and emotional connection…
This ”lightness of being’ philosophy however is not new… For centuries it was practiced by the rich and powerful. Only they could afford it, often at the expense of common people as reflected in one of the Russian proverb from the “good old days”: “Do not promote me to Corporal, but do not touch my wife”…
In modern Western societies the ‘lightness of being’ philosophy of casual relationships is becoming more common. It is often associated with earlier stages in life, with exploring life before making long-term choices and settling in.
While such behaviour is no longer considered ‘abnormal’ as it does not violate norms of the modern Western society, it can cause the person distress if ‘avoidant’ style of attachments starts dominating person’s life, preventing that person from forming deep meaningful relationships, having family and children.
According to Darlene Lancer, “around 25 percent of the population has avoidant attachment style. People with avoidant attachment style avoid closeness and value their independence and self-sufficiency more than intimacy. They can enjoy closeness — to a limit. In relationships, they act self-sufficient and self-reliant and aren’t comfortable sharing feelings. They protect their freedom and delay commitment. Once committed, they create mental distance with ongoing dissatisfaction about their relationship, focusing on their partner’s minor flaws or reminiscing about their single days or another idealised relationship…
Although most people don’t change their attachment style, it can be altered to be more or less secure depending upon experiences and conscious effort. To change your style to be more secure, seek relationships with others who are capable of a secure attachment. You can easily spot them as they radiate warmth. Loving comes naturally to them. They accept people’s minor shortcomings and treat them with love and respect. They don’t play games or manipulate but are direct and able to openly and assertively share their needs and feelings.”
“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Photo by Сергей Гладкий on Pexels.com
All grown-ups were once children … but only few of them remember it. The Little Prince reminds us who we are and what makes us special by helping us to see the world through the eyes of a child.
As Michael Rennier points out, “adults aren’t disappointing simply because we have grown bigger, or obtained jobs, or taken on responsibilities. We are disappointing because for many of us these pursuits have taken on a disproportionate importance. We have forgotten how to see the world as it actually is and are blinded by appearances. We see people as statistics, education as functional, food as fuel, clothing as utilitarian, books as unnecessary luxury… We vastly over-value what we can experience with the senses. If this is what it means to be a grown up, is it any wonder that Saint-Exupery refused to condone our way of life? We are like the accountant he describes, spending our days working over our books, counting everything up, claiming ownership of all we can fit in the ledger, and failing to see that we live in a whole, wild universe filled to the brim with stars somewhere in the midst of which one, unique rose lives on a planet and calls out for love.
Photo by Tucu0103 Bianca on Pexels.com
The rose, for Saint-Exupery, represents love, the way in which we tame each other and allow ourselves to be tamed. It is this invisible virtue that makes one, single rose special. It isn’t the flower itself, after all, there are fields and fields of roses out there. By outward appearances, a rose is like any other rose. So how is it different? It is the invisible bond of love.
In order to have a truly perfect love, we are required in a way to become children again and learn to whole-heartedly trust and give all we have to the beloved. If we care for one another, we deny ourselves for their sake, even if this means we sometimes get hurt. It is worth the risk because the only other alternative… is to treat every other person as an object… to see a field of roses, objects that are nice enough but fairly common… ”
The cost of not daring to love is to miss the warmth of a close connection with another person, inability to open up, be loved and understood…