It’s no secret that how we relate to a problem or situation can completely re-frame it and make us see it in a more productive light.
Being able to change our perspective is a valuable skill that will come in handy in many life situations: work, relationships, business, family. An effective mindset shift can make the difference between a flourishing conversation versus an adversarial one, or between persevering or deciding to give up.
1. Practice over Perfection
Anything can be a practice. You whole life can change when you fully let this sink it.
Being more generous, learning to be a better listener, including more healthy foods into your diet, being more assertive. All can be approached as a practice.
Treat any project of self-improvement like an athlete would treat their sport. Getting better at something will be more enjoyable when you approach it with flexibility and playfulness.
When we shift from wanting a rigid end-result, to committing to a flexible-flowing approach, incredible opportunities will appear. We’ll be able to see all the times we can practice our intention. If we want to cultivate generosity, every moment is a chance to see how we can practice it: buying a coffee for a creator we admire, donating goods we’re no longer using, offering help without being asked.
2. Meaningful over Easy
We might think that we’re desiring an easy life, but I think we’re confused.
An easy life doesn’t have the substance necessary to sustain our hunger for meaning, connection and mastery.
What we’re after is fulfillment. Making a difference. Being part of something bigger than ourselves. These aspiration can’t be supported by an easy life. They would crumble.
To settle for an easy life means giving up all the things that make us human. All the experience that make life worthwhile. The truly happy life is inherently messy, unconventional and a bit eccentric.
A creative endeavor, a beautiful family or a meaningful career are not easy, but they give us a sense of meaning and belonging. They fill our heart and nourish our minds.
So if you think you want it easy, you may want to reconsider your position.
3. Later rather than sooner
We’re often under the influence of shiny object syndrome. We underestimate how much work and dedication goes into any meaningful pursuit. Hopes of overnight success can cloud our vision and distract our attention from the things that truly matter: showing up and taking the next appropriate steps.
So we need to shift from the perspective of being under a time constraint or a strict timeline, to embracing the journey and accepting that it’s going to take as long as it needs to. This doesn’t mean that we won’t be putting in the effort, but that we should release unrealistic dreams of instant gain. Part of the joy of accomplishing something significant is knowing that it has a solid foundation and it didn’t just emerge overnight.
Meaningful endeavors often require years to materialize. So enjoy the ride.
4. Acting over Analyzing
You don’t need to see the whole picture before you take the first step. Just start. A lot of the details are figured out along the way.
It’s better if you don’t over-analyze. It can lead to analysis paralysis. If you start to think too far ahead, you may being to optimize for problems that won’t even arise, which will result in wasted time and energy.
So shifting from a mindset of “I’ll start when I have all the variables” to “I’ll make it up as I go” can teach you to prioritize action over planning and overcome your fear of perfectionism.
5. Small mistakes over No mistakes
There are two types of mistakes: reversible or irreversible. It’s not very common to screw up so bad that you can’t recover. The number of situations that you can’t overcome is incredibly small. (That is, if you don’t do some dumb things that put your life in danger. Or are incredibly unlucky.)
Although mistakes are usually undesirable, a healthy dose of small, manageable ones can prove beneficial in the long run.
We may benefit from changing how we relate to our mistakes. Viewing a mistake as an inadmissible circumstance can blind us to its lessons and insights. They hold invaluable information about ourselves and our actions. It’s not uncommon to learn more from mistakes than from things going smoothly.
Welcoming mistakes early on in any endeavor can be a smart way to gather data and course-correct.
6. Connection over Being right
Being right is like being in love. You want others to know it too. So our beliefs clash against someone else’s, we feel the need to make our point and “win” at all costs.
When in a debate with someone, we can become pretty adversarial. While I don’t shy away from an argument, I think the way we approach it can make a world of a difference. Hard cold facts and perfectly delivered arguments aren’t always the way to consolidate your point. (Unfortunately.) People can be displaying resistance and animosity to anything that contradicts their well-crafted belief system, so you trying to school them with logic can do more damage than good.
I think, above all, we should go into any kind of contradictory exchange with the aim to truly connect with the other person and internalize their perspective. Put on their glasses to see the world from their point of view. Is it going to be the most pleasant thing you’re going to do? Obviously not. It takes maturity and integrity to entertain the opinions of others and give them a fair chance. But if both parties are open to a genuine discussion, the conversation can be an extremely fruitful one.
Too much of today’s discourse it aimed at spitting facts and trying to convert everyone to “our truth.” Yes, there are objective facts out there in the world. But in order to get other people to view them too, we may need to let our guard down and have a genuine dialogue. You may not always change their mind, but at least you won’t turn them into a rival.
7. Cooperation over Competition
When everyone’s competing for a slice of the economy, it can become hard to relate to those around you as a peer, instead of “the competition”, especially if you’re both in the same industry.
Capitalism relies on competition, but we’ve managed to grow as a species though cooperation. We shouldn’t abandon it. Competition can’t disappear, it’s pretty much built into our DNA at this point.
But I think we’ll only benefit from supporting fellow humans when given the chance. Maybe those at the start of their career or those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Numerous studies have shown the unmatched fulfillment felt when we help out another person. Shifting our mindset from competition to cooperation can open up incredible avenues.
8. Abundance over Scarcity
Make do with what you already have.
(This point only works if you already are in a stable situation. It’s harder to ask this from someone who’s struggling to make ends meet.)
This mindset applies to both external or internal circumstances. When we hit a roadblock, our instinctive reaction is to look for additional resources. We either try to throw money at the problem, or resort to “I need more X” mindset. Where X can be anything from shoes to time.
It doesn’t easily occur to us to summon up our own internal “capital”: confidence, resilience, ingenuity. We can go from “I don’t have enough X, I need more” to “I have enough X, I just need to play with the variables.”
More clothes, fancier gadgets, or more clients may not always be the solution.
Maybe you don’t need more clothes, just the confidence to wear what you already have.
Maybe you don’t need fancier gadgets, just to use the ones you have to their full capacity.
Maybe you don’t need more clients, but higher prices.
In a lot of cases, you don’t need more, you already have everything you need.
It may not always be possible, and resorting to adding more “stuff” can be the answer, but it doesn’t hurt to stop and think before we arrive at that conclusion.