Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life
A mindset is an established set of attitudes we hold. It is our map of the world – and we can choose to change our maps, and change our life.
Problems and difficulties will come into everyone’s life and cause havoc to their reality. They bring pain and can feel really obscure. Most people will feel stuck and all they can think of is what they could have done to prevent it from happening. They focus on the “should’ve” and “could’ve” and they keep asking “Why?” They go deeper and deeper into the problem. Solution? What solution? They feel helpless and maybe even hopeless. People they speak to may offer all kinds of solutions, yet all they can see are problems associated with those solutions.
Give them a solution and they’ll tell you a problem for that solution.
It is not easy to change from being problem-centred to being solution-centred. But it’s simple – it requires shifting one’s mindset from looking at situations as a problem or a difficulty to looking at them as a challenge. What’s in a word? A lot.
There are 3 ways in which “challenges” changes the way we look at problems and difficulties:
When we say that we’re experiencing challenges, it means that there are solutions, that we’re looking at ways of overcoming them and we can take action. We’re not just wading through the problem or difficulty. We’re looking for a way out.
Problems and difficulties have a way of making us look inward and focus on the past whereas when we say we’re challenged, or we are experiencing some challenges, we are focusing outward and on the present looking for a way to move into the future.
Challenges imply choice. We can do this, or we can do that. It gives us options and power to paddle our way out of the whirlpool of doom and darkness. It allows us to focus on opportunities.
There is an interesting story about Jerry, the restaurant manager, which helps explain “mindset” and how you can shift yours.
Jerry was always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. If you were to ask him how he was doing, he would always reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” The waiters working in the restaurant with him would quit their jobs when he moved, so they could follow him around from restaurant to restaurant.
He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there, telling the employee how to look at the positive side of the situation. One day someone asked him, “I don’t get it! No one can be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Every morning I wake up and say to myself, I have two choices today. I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood. I always choose to be in a good mood. Every time something bad happens, I say to myself, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I always choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life.”
“But it’s not always that simple,” the man protested. “Yes, it is,” Jerry said “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how you let people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. It’s your choice how you live your life.”
Several years later, Jerry accidentally left the back door of his restaurant open one morning and was robbed by three armed men. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the hospital. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
The man saw Jerry again 6 months after the accident and asked him how he was, and his answer had not changed: “If I were any better, I’d be twins.” The man asked what went through his mind as the robbery took place. Jerry replied: “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door! Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared?” he asked. Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me. I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the Emergency Room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I needed to take action.”
“There was a big nurse shouting questions at me. She asked if I was allergic to anything. And I replied ‘Yes’. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I am alive, not dead’.” Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.
What can we learn from Jerry?
Every day you have the choice to either love your life or hate it. The only thing that is truly yours that no one can control or take from you – is your attitude, the way you see things and so the way you think, the things you say and do. If you can take care of that, everything else in life becomes much easier. If you can see problems and difficulties as challenges, you are already half-way there.
At the end of the day, a mindset is nothing more than an established set of attitudes we hold. It is our map of the world – how we see things, how we think, what we say and what we do.
If we can see problems and difficulties as challenges, then we rise above them and lose the pain. The next time it happens we know we’ve been able to overcome it and we repeat the lesson.