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?

Education, Motivation, Teaching

A Few Thoughts on Motivation

I’m currently reading about student motivation and how one of the things I should do is figure out what is “real” to them. What their reality looks like. I know many of my students last year had a part-time job because they either had to buy their own clothes and gas or they had to help pay the bills at home. I remember thinking that I couldn’t force them to learn something as pointless as chemistry when they had real-life problems to worry about. This is why it’s so important to me to teach things that matter. Teach skills that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I think chemistry and algebra and the other subjects are important, just not as important as helping provide for yourself or your family – especially when you’re planning a career as a mechanic or accountant or something that has nothing to do with chemistry.

I need for the things they learn to be relevant so that I have the motivation to teach it just as they have the motivation to learn it. That’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in project-based learning. And why I was so interested in the education chapter in the “Abundance” book discussing the fundamental things students need to learn to be successful. I want to feel like I am teaching my students skills that will stay with them, not facts that they will soon forget. I hate wasting time – mine or others’. I very much teaching concepts for the sake of teaching concepts. Students need to know how to apply what they learn in creative ways to solve problems.

While I do have academic standards that I have to teach, they can be a result of teaching more important skills. I can use PBL’s and similar type lessons to teacher collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Due to the nature of the projects, they will also learn specific chemistry concepts along the way. Since they learned these concepts as part of a bigger picture project, they should also be able to remember the concepts longer. The projects will also help with self-confidence, speaking in front of others, reading and writing, and research skills.

My ideal class would be me teaching every concept with a PBL, but I don’t see that as reality. Especially teaching two subjects in only my second year. I haven’t even honed my classroom management plan. But maybe. The reward would be great and surely I have the ability and resources to do this. At least with chemistry since I’m more familiar with the subject (it’s the only class I taught last year). And I have two great teachers on my chemistry team and two great math teachers on my algebra team. So maybe I can pull it off. I’m actually a bit doubtful, but I know that if I push on and pretend that I know I can do it, I’ll be a lot better off and have a better shot of doing it.

Either way, I have to make one by the end of the week. I’m in PBL training and that’s the end goal. I’ll go more into that later. This was supposed to be a short thoughts post. Oops.

What non-academic skills were you taught, or do you wish you were taught, in high school?

Teachers, do you ever feel unmotivated to teach your content because you feel it’s not important? What skills, lessons, or content would you be motivated to teach?