In 2010, we learned of some alarming research done by Martin Seligman out of the University of Pennsylvania. It showed that anxiety and depression were ten times more prevalent in 2010 than in 1960. More concerning, the average onset age or time when someone first experiences depression was 14.5 years old vs. 29.6 years of age just 50 years prior. (One can only imagine—with the proliferation of social media and our post-COVID reality—where those numbers stand today.)
Seligman’s findings triggered our own research. We asked a single question, “Why do some people thrive while others struggle?” Our ten-person team spent three years trying to better understand how we can help people flourish. The answer we got was clear. It is not what we know or where we come from but rather how we think that predicates happiness, meaning, and success. It is not our skill sets; it is our attitudes, our perspectives, and our mindsets that matter most as it relates to our personal wellness. In other words, change your mindset and change your life.
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Why is this? It is because our mindsets are rooted in our subconscious, the most powerful part of our brain. Mindsets are the default lens into the situations that arise in our lives. They dictate how we feel, how we talk to ourselves, and unless we consciously intervene, they drive what we do and how we respond. They are largely responsible for all the results and outcomes we get, and they are unfortunately the primary reason we get stuck in the repeating and self-defeating cycles of our lives.
If you want 2023 to be a great year of positive change–a year defined by your personal growth—it must start with a focus on your mindsets. The good news is that mindsets, unlike skill sets, do not take weeks, months, or even years to build. A change in mindsets can happen immediately; in an instant, we can “flip a switch” to change our mindset and change our lives.
But this does not mean changing our mindset is easy.
Part of our research in 2010 was understanding how successful people develop and change their attitudes and perspectives. Many successful individuals have specific strategies for success, but all can be summarized in three basic steps. Mastering these three qualities will absolutely improve your life and the lives of those you care about.
- Take a Hard Objective Look. Knowing others is intelligence but knowing yourself truly is wisdom. An unobserved life is not worth living. Whether you consider one of these cliches or find your own, you must be able to look at yourself with compassion and understand how your own thinking is getting in the way of living your best life. The first step is awareness and being able to identify the subconscious thought structures that are keeping you from happiness and success.
- Become an Unbiased Observer. We can set goals, we can write down our dreams, and we can feel great about it. But nothing changes until we take new action or do something differently. This is the only way we can get a different result and begin to change the outcomes we are getting. Many people talk about this ability to be mindful, to be able to observe what we are doing and what we are thinking. Almost like a parent monitoring a child, this ability allows us to observe our negative mindset and intervene at critical moments to foster change.
- Flip the Switch. This is an approach we have derived through the study of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and other practices. When you can catch yourself in self-limiting thoughts, that is the time to flip the switch. Imagine a light switch in your head that can turn off the negative thinking and turn on a positive, empowering, thought. This ability to catch a self-defeating thought, label it, and replace it with new and better thinking is the way we can reprogram our subconscious, and nurture and grow our minds to transform our lives.
Einstein once said, “We cannot solve problems at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created those problems.” He also said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” By flipping the switch, you can change what you are thinking and doing, and you can dramatically improve the outcomes you are getting and the quality of your life.
Change your mindset. Change your life.