Four Ways to Change Your Mindset & Live Better
by Michael Orr
You may not believe it at first, but 90 percent of all of the obstacles in our lives are self-imposed. Our thinking limits not only our ability to achieve, but our ability to cope with life’s challenges. I have seen this play out in various ways over the years, but perhaps the best example is in how people deal with disaster. After the November 8, 2018, wildfire that destroyed Paradise, California, and displaced 30,000 people, I had the opportunity to watch the way that people respond to adversity on a grand scale.
It quickly became obvious that most people fell into one of two categories: survivors and victims. Survivors had the ability to mourn their loss while moving forward and taking the next step toward their recovery. They were grateful for whatever help they received. Those with a “victim mentality” tended to act as if the fire was a personal attack on them and they were entitled to whatever charitable help was offered, often becoming angry when they didn’t get what they thought they deserved. Remember, all of us had experienced the same devastation. We simply reacted differently.
That experience got me thinking about why it was that people responded so differently. I finally distilled it down to, not their state of mind in the aftermath, but to their state of mind prior to the fire.
There’s an old adage, whose origin I cannot find, that is apropos:
You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? “Well, because someone bumped into me, of course.” Wrong answer. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea. Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out. Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it—until you get rattled. So, we have to ask ourselves, “What’s in my cup?” When life gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?
I believe this wholeheartedly. What you feed into your soul manifests itself as the mark you leave on those around you.
You feel the way that you feel because you think the way that you think. If you want to change the way that you feel, you have to change the way that you think.
So, here are four mindset changes that can change everything:
- Be Present in the Present. One of the ways we tend to get bound up over stuff is that we spend entirely too much time worried about the future or reliving and lamenting the past. The “Now” is where life is happening. The Now is where you take the next step on your journey. The Now is where we can make the next choice which will affect our life. The Now is where new opportunities are presented to us. Learning to take the actions that you can in the moment frees up your mind, reduces stress, and improves decision making.
- Remove the Negativity. I could write an entire book about this one topic alone. If you spend your days debating partisan politics with “friends,” gossiping, and judging others, then you are the negative force in the lives of yourself and those around you. But it is a choice. Those negative energies spill over into every other aspect of your life, causing exhaustion, pessimism, self-doubt, inflated ego, and short tempers. If your opinion is so important that you must force it on everyone else, that is narcissism. Instead, fill your cup with positivity. Turn off the TV, get out in nature. Step away from Facebook and go visit a friend. Find a passion to pour your newfound energy into. Start living life instead of criticizing it. Spending more time actually doing things that fulfill you will help with the transition. So will pulling away from people, places, or things that bring more negative energy to you than positive. Refuse to get sucked into other people’s drama.
- Be of Service: Learn to Say Yes. The best way to get over feeling down or bad for yourself is to go help someone else. Helping lift someone else up will get you out of “self” and into selflessness. Being selfless doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less. Life doesn’t revolve around you, but your actions and motives can make a big impact in the world. Learn to say yes when someone asks for help, instead of making excuses as to why you can’t. Be the light for someone else going through a difficulty. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile to a stranger. It just might change the path of their day. So, say yes, engage, smile, help. Help, not to gain something or get a pat on the back, but simply to help. I promise that the more selfless that you are, the more joy and positivity you will receive.
- Live in Gratitude. Learning to be grateful for what you have, where you are, and the lessons you have learned in life will change your outlook more than anything else that I have found. Gratitude and grace go hand in hand. Only through gratitude and contentment can you find serenity. But here’s the secret, serenity can exist even while going through life’s trials. Gratitude transcends the good and the bad. It is a mindset that both satiates us and allows us to grow as we ride the rollercoaster that is life. Begin the transition by doing a gratitude list every morning. Get your day started off in a grateful state of mind and it will carry you through.
If you want to start thinking differently and feeling differently, these four things will spill over everything else in life, both personal and professional. Learn to present, to be positive, to be of service, and to be grateful for all that life has to offer, and you will be well on your way to living the life of your dreams.
Photo credits by: “Violet” and “Rainbow Mushrooms” by VirtualZ (Italy) – deviantart.com
Michael J. Orr is a #1 Bestselling Author, Freelance Writer, Speaker, and Entrepreneur based in Southern Idaho. His new book, KILL the Bucket List: Start Living Your Dreams is now available. He also wrote the #1 Best Seller, BURN SCAR (under the pseudonym T.J. Tao).