9 Mindset Hacks That Will Help You Create the Life You Want
Do you ever find yourself chasing the next big thing, thinking that if you obtain it you’ll finally be happy?
And then when you do get it, you find that you’re still not happy.
So what do you do?
Well, you think of the next thing that you think will make you happy.
Think of the last time you told yourself this. Maybe it was “when I land that big promotion”, “when I get that new sports car”, “when I get married”, “I’ll finally be where I want to be”. “I’ll finally be happy.”
Did you get the thing you wanted? And were you finally and miraculously thrilled with your life?
Maybe at first, you were. But eventually, the thrill and the newness of it wear off, and you find yourself right back where you were before you had the new job, the car, or the spouse.
Why is that?
It’s because your mindset isn’t right.
Let’s explore why mindset is crucial and how you can change your mindset to have the happy and fulfilling life you’re after.
Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through that link, I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
What is mindset and why is it important?
Over time, you have collected thoughts and beliefs based upon your experiences with the world. That collection of thoughts and beliefs is your mindset.
Your mindset creates your thought habits, and your thought habits determine how you interact with your experiences.
Various things happen throughout our lives that create our circumstances. Our circumstances are neutral – neither bad or good. They just are. They’re completely objective.
We assign a meaning to our circumstances and that meaning comes from our mindset and thought habits.
Let’s say you got laid off from your job. The actual act of being laid off just is. You were laid off. It’s that simple.
Now depending on your mindset, you could either assign that experience a negative meaning (I suck at my job, I’m worthless, I’ll never be able to pay my bills, how will I ever find another job, etc.).
Or you could assign that experience a positive meaning (This is hard, but I will get through it, this will lead to something better).
So you see, your mindset creates your quality of life. It determines how you interact with your experiences and how happy you are with your life.
We can easily see this if we think about different people we’ve interacted with throughout our lives. I’m sure at some point you knew someone who seemed to have everything that would make someone happy. Maybe that’s a nice home, a family, a good job. Yet, they always complain and seem miserable.
On the flip side, you may have met someone who has very little and seems to be unlucky in life. They have every right to be miserable, but they aren’t. They are optimistic and grateful.
We assign meaning to our circumstances, and that meaning is determined by our mindset and thought habits.
How to Improve Your Mindset for a Happier Life
Since the quality of your life is strongly connected to your mindset, I’m guessing you’ll want to get your mindset into the best place possible! Here are the best ways to make that happen.
Become a watcher of your thoughts.
We usually speed through our days without being very mindful. Our thoughts are on autopilot.
We get stuck in traffic and we automatically mutter to ourselves, “Of course this would happen now. This sucks.” without even realizing it.
Try to slow down a bit and notice how you react to situations throughout your day.
When your toddler has a tantrum, notice what you immediately think.
If your friend cancels plans with you last minute, how do you feel and what thoughts led you to feel that way?
The more you notice how you tend to react in certain types of circumstances the more you’ll figure out where you need to adjust your mindset.
Challenge your thoughts and beliefs.
The amazing thing about our mindsets is that they can be changed to whatever we want them to be. We get to decide what we want our beliefs to be.
Think about the beliefs and thoughts you currently hold, if you want to change them, and what you want to change them to.
When I was in my 20s, I believed that I didn’t have control over what happened in my life or my future. I thought fate was fate, and I blamed everyone else for anything “bad” that happened.
When I finally understood how much my mindset impacted my life, I worked on changing that belief.
Today, I know that I can make changes and choices that will create the kind of future of I want. I also know that while some things really are out of my control, I can decide how I want to react to them.
Be ok with negative feelings.
It’s important to recognize that a positive, healthy mindset doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time and that you always look on the bright side when something bad happens.
If your boyfriend breaks up with you, you’d likely feel a sense of loss and sadness.
If you ask yourself how you’re feeling and why, and you decide that you want to feel the way you’re feeling, then let yourself.
Don’t go down a rabbit hole and beat yourself up, but it’s completely ok and healthy to sit with negative emotions so that you can process them and move on.
Next time you feel a negative emotion and you decide that, yes, you want to sit with this emotion for a bit, think “and that’s ok”. So if you’re in the situation where your relationship ended, you could tell yourself, “I feel hurt and sad, and that’s ok.”
Use positive affirmations that you believe.
An affirmation is something that you state as true, and it can be positive or negative (think of “I am angry” vs. “I am peaceful and calm”).
Positive affirmations are really helpful when you find yourself in a place that you don’t want to be. Maybe you feel insecure around co-workers, stuck in a “rut”, unmotivated, or uncertain about your future. A positive affirmation can help you move forward.
To create a positive affirmation, identify the emotion that you’re feeling and try to trace it back to the thought that creates it. Then create an affirmation to address it.
Make sure the affirmation you create is something you know to be true and practical; not whimsical and wishful thinking.
Right now as I’m writing this post, we are in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have been closed for a couple of weeks, and will be for a while to come. The first two weeks of this, I was completely overwhelmed by trying to work from home and take care of my kids.
I cried A LOT. I felt like I was failing at work AND at parenting. I finally sat down and talked myself through this.
I reminded myself that I am not the only person in this situation, that my boss understands the struggle, and that my expectations at work are obviously accommodating this.
I began to repeat to myself, “I am doing my best and that is enough. The situation right now is not normal, and everyone understands that.”
Whenever I got overwhelmed, I repeated this affirmation to myself. I’m finding that just after a week of doing this, I’m feeling so much better.
Surround yourself with the right people.
Negativity is contagious, but so is positivity. It’s as simple as surrounding yourself with people who share the same thoughts and beliefs that you want to have.
I’m sure we’ve all had someone in our lives before who constantly complained. Even if something good happened to them, they would find the sour in it.
When you’re in a conversation with that type of person, how do you feel after talking to them?
Probably mentally and emotionally drained, somewhat deflated, and more prone to focus on any negative that exists in your life. That will never serve you.
Shirley MacLaine put it perfectly – “Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power”.
Find the ones who uplift you, encourage you, support you, and call you out when you’re thinking in a way that hurts you. Those are your people.
Limit your exposure to social media and news.
Country singer Luke Bryan sings, “I believe if you just go by the nightly news; Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose”.
The majority of what the news reports is negative and the majority of what’s negative is the stuff that doesn’t even add any value to your life.
Do we need to know that someone was hit by a car in Queens this morning? Not really. But if you’re starting your day off listening to that story, your mind is already geared to think more negatively throughout the day.
Social media can also add negativity to your life. We see sad news stories shared, people disrespecting each other over politics in comments, and that “friend” from high school whose perfect pictures make you wonder why your life is such a mess.
It’s important to stay abreast of what’s going on in the world, and it’s nice to keep in touch with friends and family who we don’t get to see often.
But be mindful of the types of and how much content you’re consuming. If you find these things are starting to bring you down, it’s time to scale back.
Take care of yourself.
Get enough sleep, drink enough water, and move your body everyday. Doing these things keeps you in a better state of mind, helps you feel energetic, and gives you more confidence.
I know personally that it’s easier for me to stay in a positive mindset when I’m feeling this way, than when I feel tired and sick.
Take a look at the coping mechanisms that you use, too. Do you tend to pour a glass of wine or two, or sneak a cigarette when you feel stressed out? These things actually add to you feeling worse afterward.
Identify some other things you can do when you feel stressed out. If you’re having trouble quitting either, try reading The Easyway books (they truly work – I know firsthand!).
Self-care is essential to stay in a positive mindset.
Write down what you’re thankful for each day.
Gratitude journals are really popular these days and for good reason. Studies have shown that gratitude can boost our moods and make us feel more hopeful.
If you want to shift to a more positive mindset, write down what you’re grateful for once a week.
They can be big things, but they can also be small, like the delicious cup of coffee you had that morning.
Learn about mindset.
Continue to learn about mindset and how you can change it. We each carry a lot of different mindsets, and some methods of changing your mindset might work better for you than others.
Here are a few resources that I highly recommend to get you started:
- The book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is a Psychology Professor at Stanford. In her book she explains the differences between fixed and growth mindsets, the benefits of a growth mindset, and how to shift to a growth mindset so that you can fill your potential.
- This Google Talk with Carol Dweck.
- The book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie writes in a simplistic way that really hits home.
A Final Thought
Know that your mindset won’t change overnight. You’re going to be reworking some really strong beliefs and thought patterns that you’ve created from years of different experiences.
Be patient with yourself, keep at it, and before you even realize it, you’ll find yourself automatically giving your circumstances a more positive spin.
Remember, your thoughts create your reality. And the beautful thing of it is that YOU are the one who gets to decide how an experience impacts you. If you change your mindset, you change your life.