I started this morning with orientation for my new volunteer position and I have to work late tonight to help some students put on a charity ball. Although I love the good work I am beginning and ending this long Saturday with, the afternoon is all mine.
A good novel, coffee, some Somoas, and (soon) off to the gym.
Earlier today I discovered a little antique store and a cafe I had never been to in a part of town I had never explored. The cafe’s quirky name and bright, warm colors lured me in; its Zingerman’s coffee and the Whitney Houston songs playing quietly in the background convinced me to stay.
As I enjoyed my bagel and lox and sipped my coffee, I picked up a magazine and stumbled upon an interesting article about mindset. The article was about a book written by a psychologist named Carol Dweck. The book, MindSet: The New Psychology of Success, outlines two types of mindsets one can possess: fixed and growth. The book’s website defines each as follows:
People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are just givens. They have a certain amount of brains and talent and nothing can change that. If they have a lot, they’re all set, but if they don’t… So people in this mindset worry about their traits and how adequate they are. They have something to prove to themselves and others.
People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, see their qualities as things that can be developed through their dedication and effort. Sure they’re happy if they’re brainy or talented, but that’s just the starting point. They understand that no one has ever accomplished great things—not Mozart, Darwin, or Michael Jordan—without years of passionate practice and learning.
I am definitely guilty of falling into that fixed mindset at times. Although I have always strived to learn and grow, there are certain things that I have actively not pursued because I thought I was bad at it, felt I was inadequate, or was too concerned about other peoples’ judgements. The good news is you are not stuck with the same mindset for your entire life… it’s up to you to change your outlook on life if you want to.
In addition to making me eager to read the book, the article got me thinking about the mindset metamorphosis I have gone through in the past few months. As many people know, I had grand intentions of leaving this state (and the country) after finishing grad school. However, an opportunity I couldn’t pass up came along and I decided to stay and postpone those other plans. I struggled with the decision initially… I worried that maybe I was taking the easy way out. I worried that people would think I somehow failed. I worried about… everything. I tend to worry a lot.
Rather than letting those worries take over, I shifted my mindset to a more positive view. I am pursuing my dreams in a different way than I originally planned, but it is the fluidity of life that makes if fun… plans can change and it’s okay. Rather than always thinking about my “next step” I am finally content in enjoying my journey. I really think that I am happier with where I am right now than I would have been had my original plans worked out- I have a job that I really enjoy and colleagues that are both inspirational and fun; I have built some really strong friendships with some incredible people; I am more active in my community than ever before; and I am not too far away from my friends and family back home. In short, I am happy… and so lucky to live in such a wonderful place filled with interesting people.
I walked out of that cafe and into the sunny February weather with a smile in my heart and a newfound focus on my mindset. I got into my car, blasted The Cure, and even allowed myself buy some Girl Scout cookies on my drive home. Happiness.
It seems like my best days usually include black coffee, blue skies, and puppies.