A mindset is a particular way of thinking or a frame of mind. Your mindset is your mental attitude or set of opinions that you have formed about something through experience, education, upbringing, and/or culture. You can have a mindset on a particular event, topic, item, or person. For example, you may think that a particular person is difficult to deal with. You can also have a general mindset about life or the world. For example, you may have a positive mindset about the world and look at the world and its events positively.
By technical definition, a mindset is a fixed state of mind, hence mind“set”. However, a mindset can be changed. You may first have a particular frame of mind about a person, event, or topic, but change that mindset after certain experiences. For example, you may have an original mindset that carrots taste bad, but after having tasted some served in a new way, you may change your mindset.
Although mindsets can change, they tend to change slowly. That is especially true if you have long held beliefs about something. The longer the held belief, the harder it is to change that belief. For example, if you believe eating an apple a day is good for you, you would find it difficult to believe someone if he or she told you otherwise.
Even though they are generally quick to form, they are resistant to change. A mindset is like a stake in the ground holding a tent in place. It can be moved, but once it is in place you tend not to move it unless there is a good reason to move it.
Once you have formed a mindset about an event or experience this conditions your future perspective of that or similar events. For example, you may think an event next Saturday will be boring because the last event you experienced with that same group of people was boring. When you get there it may not be boring at all, but it will probably take you a while to change your mindset.
Since your mind is processing new information all the time, that information can affect your mindset. Your mindset is rooted in your experiences, education, and culture from which you form thoughts which establish beliefs and attitudes. Those thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes lead to certain actions and with those actions you have experiences. Those experiences gives your mind new information to process. Your thought process may affect your beliefs and attitudes about certain people, events, topics, or items. The cycle continues with each of your new actions and experiences.
Your mindset can predetermine your interpretations and responses to events, circumstances, and situations. Since your mindset is your collection of thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs, it will affect what you feel and what you do. For example, if you think a specific event is going to be boring, you probably will not attend that event. Similarly, if you feel a person is not a nice person, you may take actions to avoid him or her.
Your mindset not only impacts how you perceive the world around you, but also how you see yourself. You have certain mindsets about yourself and your abilities. Your mindsets have a lot to do with self-confidence, self-esteem, as well as self-development as a whole.
Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has done extensive research on mindsets. Dr. Dweck believes some people have a fixed mindset and other a growth mindset. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential, Dr. Dweck, describes the two different mindsets.
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”
Think about how you view your abilities, intelligence and personality. Do you see these qualities simply fixed traits or are they things you can cultivate and develop throughout your life?