How to Easily Improve Your Mindset? (3 Simple Steps)
I’ve just finished reading a self-help book talking about an individual’s life change. There was (as usual) emphasis on the individual’s mindset: it stinks, it needs a change.
There was also the common advice: visualize, repeat affirmations, ask yourself dozens of questions about what you really want to achieve in life, and if your current path is compatible with that vision, change your beliefs.
I fully agree that without changing one’s mindset (‘personal philosophy’ as Jim Rohn called it) any life change is futile. You will go back right where you were.
But I passionately don’t agree on the toolkit offered by the self-help industry. I don’t suggest this toolkit is faulty. As far as I know, those tools are quite efficient. So, what’s the trouble with them?
Common People Don’t Know How to Operate Those Tools
Do you know how to weld? I don’t. I’ve seen it many times in my life done by someone else, but I have never had welding equipment in my hands. For a professional welder, it’s childishly easy to put together two separate elements and make them a whole. For me it’s infeasible.
For someone who can change his beliefs on a whim or visualize 10 times a day, it is easy. For common mortals, it’s black magic.
How many people do you know that repeat affirmations every day? How many of your neighbors sit down every morning, close their eyes and imagine how their perfect life will look?
The most likely answer is: not too many. Six years ago, I would have told you I knew no such people.
So, we have a chicken-egg riddle: in order to change your life, you need to change your mindset, but you don’t know how to change your mindset. If you would’ve known, your life would’ve been already different, right?
Back to the Past
Six years ago, in December 2011, I was absolutely normal. I had an OK life, but I lived in a quiet desperation. I had a roof over my head, my children didn’t starve, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. And I had no clue how could I turn my life around. I was trapped in my mindset.
Yet, in January 2015, I was a writer (the career I started in 2013!) with seven published books and on a growth path. I changed. My life changed. My mindset changed as well.
Three years prior, I was a totally different person with a totally different personal philosophy. My motto was: “Expect the worst, that way you will have only positive surprises.”
People were starting to inquire how the heck I managed to transform so completely, so I reverse-engineered what happened with me.
How the Mindset Forms
Your personal philosophy is developed while you live. This is how children are learning life. They observe, process and mimic. Your mindset is not shaped on seminars or by reading books.
Children get sensual inputs — they hear, see, smell, touch and taste. Then they give the meaning to those impulses: mommy is angry at me, daddy loves me, my brother has fun with this.
Everything that happened in your life, morphed your mindset a bit. What your parents told you; which nicknames your colleagues were calling you; what you’ve heard on the radio; how you thought about yourself after the first major failure — it all affected your personal philosophy.
Your mindset forms by the continuous feedback loop. You observe, process, conclude, act and observe again.
How to Change Your Mindset
1. Change of Input Sources.
I never watched much TV and news, but I consumed quite a lot of news online. I read popular fiction of all kinds, and once every few months something less pulpy — an autobiography, a religious book or some nonfiction about the current state of affairs. I spent a lot of time playing computer games, and my social interactions were restricted to my church community and workmates.
Starting from September 2012, I read dozens of personal development books. I listened to hundreds of hours of audio materials. I watched hundreds of hours of videos with Les Brown, Anthony Robbins, Jim Rohn and the like.
And I ditched computer games and fiction reading.
2. Change of Internal Interpretation.
First of all, I was willing to change. In fact, I was desperate to change.
“We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.” — Jim Rohn
I didn’t want to maintain the status quo, because it led me nowhere. I had been living in a quiet desperation, and my old ways of thinking could lead me only further on that dark path.
I followed a new motto: “Progress is my duty.” Progress assumes change, it was a given.
I also knew that I need to pay more attention to what’s going on inside my mind. Self-analysis was one of 14 initial points of my personal mission statement. I created and followed several new habits that had a goal of making me self-aware, and some of them have stuck to this day.
For example, every morning since 26th of May, 2013, I’ve been asking myself a new insightful question and answering it on paper in a journaling fashion. I prayed a lot more than I had been and started meditation.
Thus, when a new concept arrived into my thick skull, I didn’t dismiss it off hand. I had enough self-awareness to recognize it was new and examine it carefully before deciding one way or another: to discard it, absorb it or give it a try.
3. Change of Social Environment.
Anthropologist Robin Dunbar discovered that we can include into our internal “tribe” artificial entities.
That’s why we have the phenomenon of celebrities. Most of them don’t represent aesthetic, moral, business or any other common sense standards. If a person like them would try to persuade you of something on the street corner, you would just say: “Go away, jerk!” But once this person’s social avatar becomes a part of your “tribe,” you pay as much attention to their opinion as to your neighbor’s, workmate’s or sister’s.
I had the same family, the same job, the same church community, and very little changed in my social interactions offline. However, I also adopted many personal development teachers into my internal Dunbar circle. Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins became my buddies. I spent more time listening to them than interacting with my friends.
I also began socializing online and meeting fascinating people there. Some of them became my closest friends, who knew about me more than my family. I mingled with freelancers, self-publishers, solopreneurs and artists.
I said little had changed offline, but one change was significant: I began to talk with strangers. I developed a few habits that helped me go out of my social shell and break through my shyness.
The Way It Worked
And that was enough. No chanting affirmations or imagining I have new beliefs.
My mindset changed because:
- I changed what information I was habitually consuming,
- I paid attention to my self-talk and was careful to not protect the status quo in my mind,
- I invited into my “tribe” new people on a regular basis.
Our beliefs are shaped by how we interact with the external world and by meaning we internally give to those interactions.
Three Simple Things
What your mind consumes (data sources). How you process incoming information (internal interpretation of incoming impulses). With whom you interact (people).
Those three factors are what really affect your mindset.
They are the only factors that had ever been affecting a mindset of every single human being throughout history. This is how the mindset of every child ever born had formed.
You can change your beliefs by consciously choosing how you will absorb information and what information you will absorb. The best way is to habitualize it.
Read new things every day.
Listen to podcasts every day.
Watch TED talks every day.
You don’t need to do this for hours at a time, although Jim Rohn said jokingly that if you are not satisfied with the place you are in life, it’s not a bad idea. Consistency can make up for the scope.
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” — Ovid
Self-Talk Is Important
While absorbing those new data sources, you need also to pay attention to your self-talk. If you will read and listen and watch and say to yourself every time: “This is rubbish; this is not for me; easy for him to say that, he is a privileged jerk,” you will deflect all the ideas disrupting your status quo and remain the same.
Meditate. Journal. Watch your tongue. Try to not utter a word for several hours while living your normal life. Try to say only 10% as much as your interlocutors are saying.
Those are activities doable by common folks that will increase your self-awareness. Thanks to practicing such disciplines, you will be able to catch yourself on internal criticism and have a constructive conversation with yourself, instead of pissing contests and pity parties.
If you want to change your mindset as quickly as possible and as smoothly as possible, start spending more time with people you want to be like.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn
We really didn’t understand this process very well, but it’s a fact. This is how children become tiny copies of their parents, babysitters and siblings. They simply absorb their social surrounding into themselves.
It works. You don’t have to be mindful around people you want to be like. It won’t hurt to be purposeful, but the beauty of this shortcut is that it works no matter if you think about it or are intentional. It works, because it’s how you are constructed.
A Mega Shortcut
You can choose who you interact with online and virtually. Adopt social avatars of great people into your “tribe.”
You can watch MTV clips or Jim Rohn’s seminars on YouTube. You can read hip-hop texts or poetry. You can listen to commercial chaff on a public radio or you can listen to podcasters selected by you.
And mindsets of people who you will follow will become part of your mindset.
Absorb content. Watch your mind to keep it open. Adopt new members into your social tribe.
Your mindset will shift, seemingly without your effort.