Mindful, Mindset

Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

Many people go through life thinking they’re smart or they’re dumb. That they can do a thing or they can’t. That they get it or they don’t. That they’re strong or they’re not. This is a fixed mindset and they don’t see the opportunity to try and improve. They see that either someone has a talent for something or they can’t do it at all. From their perspective, when someone works hard at something, it’s because they’re not good at it. If someone is studying hard it’s because they’re not smart.

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t born knowing how to walk and talk and solve math problems. I worked hard to develop the muscles and motor skills to be able to walk. It’s easy now, but it did not start out that way. I struggled to learn vocabulary and how to say “mom” and “dad”. Taking is mostly easy now, but again it did not start out that way. In order to be able to solve math problems (that I find easy now), I had to study and practice a lot. Just like a master at the piano started off struggling to read music and play at the right tempo. But with a fixed mindset, we don’t think, “oh wow that person worked really hard to be able to play that well. I bet I could be that good one day too if I put in the work.” Instead, we think, “oh wow that person is really talented at the piano. I wish I could play like that.”

Having a growth mindset means understanding that you can always improve at something and you can gain any skill or knowledge you want if you put in the effort. Just because you burned your dinner the first time you tried cooking doesn’t mean you can’t cook. It just means you need to figure out a better temperature for cooking that meal. Just because lose at chess the first time you play doesn’t mean you can’t practice and learn and become a chess master. Having a growth mindset means understanding that you can’t do something yet, but with effort, you can do or learn anything.

How can you change your thoughts and words so they reflect a growth mindset and not a fixed one? By adding “yet” when you hear yourself say, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know that.” By looking at the famous painter and saying, “s/he must have put in a lot of effort to become that good.” By telling yourself over and over to just try and you will get it. Remember, walking was once hard for you too.

Which mindset are you?

Self Growth, Self Reflection

What Holds Us Back

What’s holding me back? Myself, mostly. Holding me back from what? I’m not 100% sure. My why is to give people what they need to be happy. I can mostly do that via information such as career path options, steps to overcome depression, pointing out where to get things they need, etc. I love helping others. Even my hobbies are proof of that. I knit and crochet, but very rarely do I make anything for myself. It’s always a gift for someone or something that’s part of a charity. While this blog is more of a personal record of my journey, I have overcome some great barriers to my own happiness and hope to share how to do so with others so they can overcome their own barriers. A lot of what I like to read are teacher or self-improvement books or books that make me see the world differently because a better me means I can help others be a better them. If that makes sense. I enjoy playing the piano, but rarely do it. I also have the idea that I want to be in shape for myself, but can’t push myself to work out. “I just don’t have the time.” I say that a lot. I also say, “I don’t have the mental capacity right now,” or “I don’t have the energy right now.” These phrases have held me back from pushing my work on my blog, reading books that I want to read, working out, and practicing the piano.

No more. Those phrases are stories that I have made up. They are not reality. In reality, I can do all the things. Yes, I want to be careful I don’t over-exert myself. And yes, I want to make sure I make time for relaxing as well. But I can relax and read a book or relax and knit something. I can also write when I’m “not in the right mental state” because writing will put me in the right mental state. I know that. Even if I just spit out what comes into my brain, doing so will put me in a writing mentality and then I can go back and edit and complete the writing.

I just have to start. I guess that’s supposed to be the hardest part of any task: starting. The analytical part of me wants to make schedules and lists in order to work in all the things I want and need to do. The problem is, schedules and lists don’t work for me. At least not for more than a day or two. Routines do. If I get in the routine of reading during my lunch break, then I’ll get the reading done that I want. If I get in the routine of working out right after work, then I’ll get into shape. And if I get into the routine of splitting my time after dinner between writing, knitting, and playing the piano, I’ll get to enjoy the benefits of participating in the hobbies I want to keep up. Since my partner cooks dinner, I can work on chores while he cooks and get the cleaning done that needs to get done. I can do this. I will do this. And I will be a badass because of it.

What’s holding you back?

Self Growth, Self Reflection, Uncategorized

My Why

Ever since I was a kid, I loved making people happy. Mostly by giving them stuff or just talking to them. I talked to everyone when I was a kid. I also spent most of my allowance on things for other people, rather than myself. When on vacation, I used my money to buy souvenirs for others. Whenever I did anything crafty, it was usually to give away to a friend or family member. So what is my why? To make others happy? Pretty much. But it’s more than that. I don’t want to just hand someone a present and see them smile for a few seconds. I want to show someone the path they can take to overcome their demons and get to true, lasting happiness. I’ll even hold their hand while they do it, so they know they have someone supporting and rooting for them. I want to empower people to make that hard change that might be painful at first, but leads to life-long joy. I want to inspire people to take the leap and show them or equip them with everything they need to do it. And yes, if giving a homemade blanket to someone who is cold makes their life a little easier, even if it doesn’t help them achieve lasting happiness, I want to do that too. I want everyone to know that there are people like me who care. I want them to know that they’re not alone. That is my why. What is yours?

Self Growth, Self Reflection

Everyone Has A Cause

Everyone has a cause they care about and pursue. Everyone has a reason for at least some of their actions, purchases, and social media posts. If you don’t, I imagine you have a hard time getting out of bed. But even then, I know there’s something you care about, even if you’re not actively promoting it.

I care about helping others. If a clothing store tells me that their reason for being is to help others, and they do that in the way they obtain materials and provide training, jobs, and education to their local community members, I will buy their clothes even if they are typically out of my price range. Or pink. Or not exactly my style. I’ll buy them for someone else if it means I get to help a cause I believe in.

Likewise, if you care about animals, and a shoe store says that their company was started so the profits could be used to help local animal shelters, you’ll want to buy those shoes. We like to promote our causes by supporting companies that also believe in our causes.

It’s even better when you can get into a career that furthers your cause. My cause is helping others. I tried to do that with engineering. I wanted to innovate and use new designs and technology to make products that would really benefit the community. But that didn’t seem like it was going to happen. When I switched to teaching, it was like sliding a puzzle piece into place. I got to help others in a way that I did not imagine I wanted to. There were lots of reasons I didn’t want to be a teacher and only one reason that I did. My one reason for wanting to be a teacher was to further my cause.

What’s your cause? How do you pursue it?

Life Lessons, Motivation, Self Growth

How Sickness Brings Us Down But It’s Okay

I don’t know about you, but when I get sick I sleep. A lot. And while I’m awake, I rarely feel like doing more than watch TV. I’ll wish for a rainy day, so I don’t feel bad about sleeping in until noon and lounging on the couch the rest of the day watching tv and sleeping, but it’s always bright and sunny when I’m sick.

I don’t think I’m unique in that I like to be productive. Most of us do. That’s why most of the addictive games have “goals,” “achievements,” or “tasks” for us to do – which is what makes them so addictive to us. It feels like we are accomplishing something and being productive (at least in the game). We love that feeling. But it’s hard to get that feeling when you’re sick and have no energy to be productive. Not even to play the games that give you that feeling.

Needless to say, I’ve been sick. Today is my first productive day in what feels like a week but has really just been 3 days (2.5 really, I was a little productive yesterday afternoon). Fortunately, I have a partner that reminded me that it’s okay to take a break now and then, especially when sick. He reminded me that we had a long, productive, and tiring month with the kids (it was the day after we took them back to their mom that I got sick) and that we both deserved some rest anyway. We took all day Monday to sleep in and watch NCIS (he took the day off work), even though we were quickly running out of clean socks and there were more dirty dishes than clean ones in the kitchen.

Tuesday I was going to get back on it. I didn’t. I slept til noon and every time I tried to do a thing, I felt dizzy and weak and had to lie down. So I watched TV all day and snoozed a little in the afternoon. It really got me down. I felt like I needed to be productive. I felt like a lazy piece of poop because none of the dishes had gotten washed, none of the mess in the kids’ room or living room had gotten picked up, and I hadn’t had the mental capacity to even work on my classroom stuff.

It got me down and made it hard for me to feel motivated to be productive in the future. But finally his words got through to me. It is okay to take a break and take it easy occasionally. It’s okay to watch cartoons and NCIS all day after sleeping in until noon and go to bed at eight. It’s okay to be sick and just relax. It’s okay because that’s not who I am and I’m not going to do it every day. Only as long as I need it.

If you’re sick and feeling useless because dishes aren’t getting done, your hobbies aren’t progressing, and you’re ordering pizza instead of cooking, just remember that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to be sick. It’s okay to relax and enjoy doing nothing for a few days. You’ll get back on your feet and when you do it will be with renewed vigor. You are a badass. Don’t ever forget it.

Life Lessons, Self Growth

A Very Off Day

The other day I was late with breakfast, we forgot socks to the bounce house and had to buy some, I ran my just-purchased car into a parked vehicle in the parking lot, and the oven got left on 425 degrees for 5 hours. It seemed like a lot of other little things happened too that wouldn’t have normally bothered me, but just added to the bad day vibe. The worst one was the car. I just bought this car and I did way more damage to my car than the vehicle I hit. Of course my insurance covered their’s and not mine. Why am I paying so much for insurance? I cried – a lot. I felt so stupid. And continued to feel so with every little mistake I made the rest of the day.

That evening, I finally took a deep breath. I realized that in the grand scheme of things, eating breakfast late, paying a few bucks for socks, dinging a new car, and leaving the oven on for 5 hours really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not going to affect anything in the long run. Yes, our electric bill will be a little higher for one month. And yes, I will have to take money out of my emergency fund to fix my car. But neither of those things are going to affect my future. Neither of them are going to cause long-term pain or affect my long-term happiness. They don’t influence my job, my relationships, my family, or my life.

It’s easy to let small things like these affect our mood and stop us from being happy in the short-term. We have to remember to look at the big picture and realize that they aren’t part of it. They don’t show up in the big picture and they don’t mess up the future. Therefore, there’s no point in letting them ruin so much a day of your life if they’re not going to majorly influence the future. No use wasting time being upset when time could be spent feeling happy and having fun or being productive instead of moping around.

What happened the last time you had an off day? Were you able to turn it around? If so, how?

Children, Life Lessons, Self Growth

Lessons From Children

Image from lamebook.

If you want to test your patience get a child. Seriously. Why do people do this to themselves? Thank goodness they’re cute, or they would not survive long. Just getting them to eat a decent amount of good food and stay away from sugar is a nightmare. Who knew dinner time could be so stressful? Every parent who cares about their child’s health. That’s who.

Kids will definitely test your patience. Or break your patience. I haven’t decided yet. I feel like I used to have a lot more patience before we had the kids over for a month. Now every little thing seems to bother me. But it also seems like we have learned to let the small stuff go. We have learned a lot of things, actually. And we make a great team – even though we don’t plan on having any full-time children unless something happens and he gets full custody of his girls.

Lesson one from having the kids is communication. We have learned to communicate expectations, consequences, and rewards with each other BEFORE communicating them to the kids. Usually. We sometimes slip and have to deal with the outcome, but so far it’s only been on minor things. I think this has helped with communication in general. Since I’ve gotten used to discussing plans with the girls before talking to the girls about it, I’ve also been more communicative about my own plans and goals. It’s nice.

Lesson two is stick to your guns. Always. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you said no the first time, you have to say no the hundredth time – and they will ask 100 times if you let them. If you say there’s going to be a consequence for a thing, you better be ready to enforce that consequence. We almost had to enforce one that we didn’t particularly want to, but we said we would and we were prepared to do it. Ended up not having to, so that was nice. But we TALKED about it and decided that we were going to stick to it. This helps in life too, because if you don’t mean what you say, you’ll lose credibility with your friends and peers. Learning to really stick to what you say – always – helps build the reputation that you are reliable. And everyone likes reliability.

Lesson three is always side with your partner. This is especially important if you don’t agree with your partner about a particular thing. It ties back to the last lesson of stick to your guns. Whatever answer one partner gave, that’s the answer. Period. We will communicate about it after the fact when we can do it without the kids around and make a plan for future occurrences. This has helped us be closer and stronger together because we are always backing each other up, even when we don’t completely agree with it. It’s nice to learn to let go of whether you have the same view as your partner and just focus on supporting your partner. Whether it’s dealing with the kids, making a career change, or working through personal issues.

Lesson four is that children have stealthy ninja skills and they will use them to sneak up on you and scare the piss out of you while you’re sleeping or resting. Seriously. They’re lucky I haven’t accidentally hit either of them. It’s terrifying. They’re not even doing it on purpose. They just see you sleeping or resting, know they shouldn’t disturb you, but decide to do it anyway because they really want to tell you something. Or they have to pee (even though she can do it by herself – why are you telling me??). Or they want to get up now even though it’s 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday and they refuse to get up at 7:30 during the week to go to school! Patience tested and destroyed.

Less five, and probably the biggest one, is always think before you speak. Anything you say to a child can and will be held against you. Always. Anything mean, dumb, silly, or misinformation that comes out of your mouth will be remembered and commented upon, either immediately or later. It will be regretted. This is a great lesson because sometimes we fight with our friends, family, or partners and we say things we don’t mean because we get caught in the moment and don’t think our words through. When a kid wakes you up at 2:30 in the morning because the other kid wants to tell you something, but turns out that other kid is asleep – it’s really difficult to choose your words or just not say anything at all. With enough practice, you learn to think before you speak in difficult situations – saving you relationships that you’ve spent time and effort building up.

Overall, I suppose kids make us better. Still a pain in the butt and I don’t know why so many people want them, but to each their own. I do feel like I’ve grown over the past month and the kids have also benefited. I’ll end with a quote I have seen on the internet that really ring true.

“Raising a child is like taking care of someone who’s on way too many shrooms, while you yourself are on a moderate amount of shrooms. I am not confident in my decisions, but I know you should not be eating a mouse-pad.” – Ron Funches

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from interacting with children?