As an educator, I have heard the phrase 'I can't do XYZ' several times, most often this phrase was used in conjunction with words such as 'math,' 'science,' 'problem' and 'test.' When we think about it through the academic lens, all of the combination of those words sound harmless -- because so what if we can't do this problem or math or test? There is always another course to take, another test to finish. But when we look at those phrases in a global context, as it pertains to life, we realize how limiting and disadvantageous the combination can be. The essence of life is that it is full of challenges, and some say 'life is a test' thus we must be able to face different challenges that arise in life and believe that we can overcome them. In order to do, we have to reframe our mind from the limiting to the limitless. So here are three ways that have been scientifically proven to help us to break out of the constraints, and to realize the great potential within each of us.
The essence of the growth mindset is that end goal is not perfection rather progress. According to Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor, there are two mindsets a human being can adapt, one is the 'fixed mindset' and the other is the 'growth mindset.' The 'fixed mindset' is the perceived notion that we are only so good at one area or another, that our capabilities are innate rather than developed. Common phrases or perceptions of the 'fixed mindset' are: 'I am not good at this,' 'I can't do this' and 'it is too hard.' It is rigid and static, it is in opposition to what life is -- which is dynamic and always flowing. The 'growth mindset' takes a different approach it states: 'I put in the effort and I am improving,' and 'I can become better at this with practice.' What is remarkable about the growth mindset is that it has been scientifically proven to close achievement gaps by 30%. In life, everyone is a student -- thus if we adopt a 'growth mindset' instead of the 'fixed mindset' we can overcome the challenges in life, and develop the necessary skillsets to move forward.
Meditation has shown to be an incredible tool for regulating emotions and stress. In my recent article, I outline that several studies that were done by Harvard University scholars have shown that there are structural changes in the grey matter of the brain as a result of meditation. Meditation allows us to still our mind, and overcome limiting notions and beliefs. Many organizationshave taken on meditation to their employees and senior decision makers in order to help them overcome limiting beliefs. What is beautiful about meditation is that only 15 minutes of meditation on a consistent basis is enough to see changes.
We have all heard people say: just be positive and it'll work out! And how many times do we believe that when we are in a stressful situation? Most often than not, the answer is not many. However, the good news is that we should believe it, and there is a scientific reason for it. According to research done by Michael F. Scheier and Charles S. Carver's showed that positivity does work. In an interview by The Atlantic, they revealed found that "optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease." The reason for that is that optimists and pessimists use different coping strategies. Optimists "are problem solvers who try to improve the situation" while pessimists "Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to deny, avoid, and distort the problems they confront and dwell on their negative feelings." Thus, being an optimist gives you a key advantage in life! So stay positive, especially in 2018!
Dr. Anna Powers is an entrepreneur, advisor and an award winning scientist. Her passion is sharing the beauty of science and encouraging women to enter STEM fields.