B for Boost Yourself With Super Thoughts represents activities and ways of thinking that help us to see our and our children’s health and wellbeing as always changing. And through commitment, intention, and work, we can direct these changes toward physical health, meaningful relationships, and personal growth. Researchers in the field of educational psychology have learned that seeing the world through this sort of mindset can have huge impacts in kids as well as adults.
A “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset” are particular ways of viewing ourselves and our children. When we are in a fixed mindset, we view ourselves and our kids as only having innate abilities and weaknesses. We are either good at something or not. Perhaps our parents always did it this way, it’s in our genes and DNA, or it’s just random bad luck; regardless of the story we tell ourselves, a fixed mindset sees our bodies and minds as really hard, if not impossible, to change.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, sees the body and mind as always changing, and through commitment, intention, and work, we can direct these changes toward physical health, meaningful relationships, and personal growth. Researchers has shown that developing a growth mindset boosts persistence, reduces depression, and improves our ability to change.
Making healthy life changes, especially in the midst of a health crisis like childhood cancer, is not easy. So many obstacles seem to block the way: not enough time, not enough money, not everyone in the house wants to make changes, the comfort of daily routines and habits… But even when we overcome all of these obstacles, we still might be faced with the biggest one of all: our own mindset.
By viewing our health and wellbeing as always changeable through simple daily actions, we can use a growth mindset to sustain healthy changes even in the middle of the most hectic health crises. A growth mindset is not about making big changes for a short time, it’s about making small, positive changes everyday.
In several growth mindset research studies, children were given a brief lesson about “neuroplasticity,” which is the science around how the brain is always changing and growing. The big take away is that having a growth mindset motivates people to persist in working on challenging tasks, and that his persistent work actually changes the way the brain works. Researchers found that children who got this lesson do much better in school than kids who didn’t.
This research is cutting-edge and still ongoing, but it’s clear that a big part of developing a growth mindset is about seeing ourselves as not as set-in-stone, but as always changing. And the little choices we make and work we put in everyday is what helps us change for the better.
There are a lot smart people doing work on the power of mindset. Here are two that have done a lot to popularize these ideas:
Carol S. Dweck, PhD, Stanford University (hyperlink: http://mindsetonline.com)
Norman Doidge, MD, author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing (hyperlink: http://www.normandoidge.com)
The FIRST STEP
Today, begin to think about health as something that can be changed slowly and steadily, through small steps, daily persistence, and practice.