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Adjusting Our Mindset

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The Fulcrum and the Lever

Changing your performance by changing your mindset.

Overview

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Archimedes- Ancient Greece scientist and mathematician

According to Shawn Achor, our brains operate according to the Archimedean formula.  Two important factors give us the power to maximize our brain potential:
  • The length of our lever: how much potential power and possibility we believe we have
  • The position of our fulcrum: the mindset with which we generate the power to change
We can’t change reality through sheer force of will alone. We can use our brain to change how we process (think about) the world, in turn changing how we react to it. Our brains are organized to act on what we predict will happen. You get what you perceive.

The fulcrum = mindset = center point. By shifting this center point we can change our perceptions and, therefore, the outcomes. By calling upon, or leveraging your strengths, you can help move the fulcrum and change your mindset.

Placebo effect

You’ve probably heard about the placebo effect: the tendency of any medication or treatment, even an inert or ineffective one, to produce results simply because the recipient believes that it will work. Research has shown how powerful the placebo effect can be.  According to empirical reviews of placebo studies, 55-60% of placebos are as effective as most active medications.

Biologically speaking, the expectation of an event causes the same complex set of neurons to fire as if the event was actually occurring.  This triggers events in the nervous system causing real physical consequences.  In essence, beliefs can actually produce real results. 

What if we applied the placebo effect to our everyday thinking?  What if we challenged our beliefs of what we can actually accomplish?  Changing your mindset can be the start of real changes in your life.

Changing your mindset

Take a moment and think about goals you’ve set for yourself that you’d like to see progress on.  Maybe you’d really like to increase your physical activity but never thought you could.  Or perhaps you’d like to find ways to spend more quality time with your children.

What are the top strengths you can build on?  If you’re a really organized, schedule-oriented person, apply those strengths and skills to increasing your level of physical activity.  Plan physical activity like you would anything else. Believe that you can be physically active five minutes a day, plan it, and do it.  Build upon those five minutes.             
                                             
How can you use your strengths to change your perceptions and get things done? Use this worksheet to set personal goals. Then explore how you can change your mindset and make progress on those goals.     

Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation, ancient Buddhist techniques, are grounded in the belief that living a value-based life enhances wellbeing.
  • Meditation includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate a slow the mind down – as a way to clear the mind and ease health concerns
  • Mindfulness is a state of active attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. Mindfulness can help shift our perspective and change our mindset.

If you’re interested in meditation, start off by practicing two minutes each day. Count your breathing for two minutes, focusing on each breath.  Check out some guided meditation CDs available online or from your library.  YouTube also has a variety of guided meditation videos of different themes and lengths.

In action

Chuck Curry

Chuck Curry, diagnosed in 2003

“Soon after my diagnosis, I took a mindfulness-based stress reduction class…one of the things that course taught me was that meditation could be done anywhere and during any activity. During the course we would do walking meditations, lying down meditations, guided meditations. 

I find kayaking very meditative. I've been doing it for so long that the rhythmic movement of back and forth paddling allows me to enter a meditative state and let my mind unspool. 

The breathing exercises that I do are a form of active meditation.  Occasionally I'll lie down and put on a CD of guided meditations, listen to a voice guide me through a half hour of meditation.  All of those work to lower my heart rate, take my mind off things that I'm worried or anxious about.  Mindfulness-based practices help me be aware of them and then choose to let go of those thoughts.”

Share your experience with others

Visit the Everyday Matters group to connect, learn and share with others:
  • Your top strengths you can build on
  • Goals you've set for yourself that you'd like to see progress on     
  • How you can use your strengths to change your perceptions and get things done      

Additional resources

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