i have always had a classic case of what psychologists term a 'fixed mindset'. relying on the idea of intelligence and talent as innate abilities. it's fixed. you either have it or you don't. school marks prove that. your degree proves that. oh, and that job of yours. well, that's just the icing surely. exerting effort shows you are not naturally smart, so don't let others in on the fact that actually you are having to paddle under the surface with all your might just to stay afloat. having self-image so tied up in external validation and reward means you lose confidence the moment you have difficulty solving a problem. it's brimming full with vulnerability. eventually, it wore me down.
coming across growing research in neuroscience about neuroplasticity (the scientific discovery that brain cells can rewire and change patterns throughout human life as we experience, learn and adapt) and uncovering the idea of 'growth mindset' was eye-opening. it was liberating to find out that learning, curiosity, persistence, dedication and resilience matter more than inherent talent when faced with obstacles. that you can learn and continue to cultivate knowledge and skills with effort and perseverance throughout your life. and that the process of creating and doing is the part that builds up the kind of contentment that is much less vulnerable to stumbles and falls along the way.
my 365 day mindfulness project on instagram was my first try to get me some of that 'growth mindset'. i did not consciously realise at the time the transformational effect it was having on how i think, see, feel and do. and unexpectedly becoming part of an inspiring and nurturing community, well that's just the icing, surely.
i am now fascinated by all things human mind and neuroscience. i now think happiness is having freedom of mind to navigate through ups and downs of life by experiencing emotions, but not being enslaved by them. having the ability to change the way i respond to sensations by renaming and reframing my emotions. i realise that transforming the emotions is a mind power, but is also a big challenge that requires purposeful effort to become more and more familiar with the workings of the brain and the mind. it also requires cultivating mindfulness of the present moment and habits to support it.
this series is a modest monthly collection of postulates, experiences and objects that i come across in my day to day. empirical or contemplative. words read and underlined. books leafed through or recommended. podcasts or conversations. poetic musings or mindful ponderings. articles or lyrics. anything that helps me to be more open to new and different good things. anything that helps me to intentionally pay attention and reflect without judgement or expectation of payoff, as i try to rewire my brain to cultivate curiosity and learn to self-regulate. anything that helps me to better inhabit myself and take charge of my brain. to have a better than before enjoyment of life. i hope you can join me.