I was reading an article about Two Mindsets written by Carol Dweck Ph.D and it got me thinking about why some people seem to fly in the face of adversity. Most of us have the same capabilities, we are human after all, however some people just seem to have an innate ability to thrive in difficult situations.
I know from experience, that while of course I prefer life to be all roses, it often isn’t and yet I seem to have an ability to deal with challenges in life with relative ease. That doesn’t mean I breeze through all my problems, I just seem to be able to work through them without I guess completely falling apart. That was certainly the case for me when my marriage ended. Although it was extremely difficult and painful time somehow it seemed to be just another one of those stages in my life. And I know I’m not alone on this. Everyday I see people who dealing with trauma with amazing strength and humility. Then on the other hand, I also see people who crumble at the slightest challenge.
What makes one person fly in the face of adversity and another crumble?
According to Carol Dweck, there are two mindsets. One being Fixed and the other is the Growth Mindset.
In the Fixed Mindset intelligence is static and leads to people wanting to look smart. So they avoid challenges, give up easily, ignore criticism as negative feedback and feel threatened by other peoples success. As a result these people rarely achieve their full potential and are confined to a deterministic view of the world.
She goes on to say that the Growth Mindset allows for intelligence to develop. People with this type of mindset embrace challenges and persist in the face of setbacks. They see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism and from the success of others. Ultimately this leads to a greater sense of free will.
The Two Mindsets and Mindfulness
When reading this article I started to connect it to my Mindfulness practice. At the core of Mindfulness is of course The Mind. It is the practice of bringing awareness to our experience, it is all about being open to life in whatever capacity it is, even when it is not as we wish it to be.
In Mindfulness we teach how to rest in the midst of it all. By this I mean we learn to stay calm and still with life, even when it is challenging us to fight, to scream and to push away.
To be able to do this, to be able to stay present when all you want to do is run or move or fight, takes effort and requires a “Growth Mindset”
My interpretation of the Growth Mindset is our attitude to life. If we are constantly seeing the challenges in our life as threats, as something we shouldn’t have to go through, then we are not learning and we are not growing. However if you can see that even painful experiences are opportunities to grow, then we stay open to the lessons. We cultivate our free will and develop the ability to choose how we experience challenges in your life.