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  • Writer's pictureUlrike

Mindset matters!

"Why is this always happening to me? And why exactly when I need it the least? And why do the good things always seem to fall into other people's laps?” – If these are questions that sound familiar to you, then this text is for you.

You've probably heard the term mindset before, a word that is literally on everyone's lips nowadays. The word mindset describes your way of thinking, your view of life or whether from your perspective the literal glass is half full or half empty. But what does this have to do with your life? A lot - because life is what you think of it.

"Whether you think you can or you can't do it, you will always be right" Henry Ford

In other words, whether you think, life is happening to you or for you and therefore classify what happens in life as good or bad luck, problem or challenge, obstacle or opportunity, coincidence or destiny is up to you based on all your (unconscious) beliefs. Two people can have completely different experiences of the exact same thing. Let me give you an example:

Imagine two children growing up in different families. The first child has parents who are very close to nature, and they pass on their interest in animals and plants to their child. That way this child (I call it child 1) might develop a fascination for spiders, for example.

The other child (I call it child 2) grows up in a family where the parents have a downright aversion to spiders and panic at the sight of this eight-legged creature. This aversion will be passed on to their child as well. And now imagine both children going on an excursion together and discovering a spider. What do you think will happen? Child 1 will probably burst into joy, hardly believing his luck getting the chance to find this fascination creature in nature, while child 2 will possibly panic and run away screaming. The trigger - the spider - is exactly the same in both cases, but the reactions are wildly controversial, based on the unconscious beliefs the children have adopted from their parents at a very young age. And the respective response to the trigger leads to the release of the corresponding hormones in the body with all the associated physical reactions - depending on whether the body releases happiness or stress hormones.

We all have adopted certain beliefs from our closest caregivers in order to somehow make sense of life as children. From our parents we've learned how life works. And usually we keep these beliefs as adults. Although we are mostly not aware of them, they control all of our decisions.

Let’s say you have adopted a belief from your parents that life is hard and unfair and that you’ll be cheated by everyone. My guess is that you’ll make exactly this experience in life and find sufficient evidence for that belief being true. At the same time, you will miss out on all the other things that would prove otherwise. So let’s say you get fired or your partner leaves you. Based on what you believe this is inevitably just another proof for you how unfair life is. And this might then lead you to the question "Why does this always happen to me?".

Let’s take another person who believes that life is always for them and that nothing happens without a reason. This person would probably see the job termination as an opportunity for a time out and the breakup as a sign that it hasn’t been the right one for them yet and, as they are evolving, the right person will come into their life when the time is right. And that's exactly what this person draws into their life, because energy follows attention. For outsiders, it may seem as if everything falls into this person's lap.

Life is what you think of it.

Most of the time you are not aware of our beliefs though. The question is: how can you then unmask them in order to be able to react differently to life in the future?

First of all, by understanding that nothing in life has a meaning until you give it one. There is only what happens and then there is your interpretation of it. This then creates the meaning that you give to what is happening. And depending on the interpretation, different people can give the same thing a different meaning - like in the example with the two kids and the spider.

More often than not mix what is happening with our interpretation of it (e.g. "The train is already 48 minutes late, this is a catastrophe"). However, if you separate what happened (delay) from your interpretation (disaster), you can look at it from a distance - like a good friend. That alone can make all the difference to your reaction.

"There is one thing you cannot take away from me: my freedom to choose how I respond to what you are doing to me." Viktor Frankl (Holocaust survivor)

Separating what is happening from your personal interpretation doesn't mean that you see the world through rose-tinted glasses only– that would just add another meaning to it, in this case a positive one. But life is neither good nor bad - it's just what happens.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Fortunately, we are hardly exposed to real life-threatening situations in the Western world today - and yet our body reacts as if the saber-toothed tiger were literally standing behind us. Most of the stress these days is caused by our thoughts and worries – worrying about what others might think of us (interpretation: I'm not loved) or how on earth we're going to get through 100 unopened emails (interpretation: I’m inefficient), why the neighbour doesn't say hello (interpretation: what did I do wrong) or whether we've gained weight (interpretation: I have no willpower). But if you take away the meaning from all of this and only focus on what actually is, then you create space and have less stress. That leads to a clearer mind, better digestion, improved sleep, better mood and that has not only a big impact on our overall health but also on the life of all the people around you.

As you see, the right mindset isn't about just sitting on the couch, having positive thoughts and trusting that everything in life will work out in your favour. Rather, it is the perfect mix of thoughts, action and trust that contributes to a relaxed life. That means on one hand that you take action and pursue your goals. But it also means that you accept setbacks and learn to deal with them instead of fighting them. And this can only work if you separate what is happening from your interpretation of it and from your idea of how you think life has to be. A mindset of acceptance of what is right now and trust in life at the same time leads you to produce less stress hormones and thus biochemical advantages, inner peace, better decisions and better overall health as well as relaxed relationships with the people around you. Because if you assume that your glass is always half full, then you can also give it to others in a relaxed manner.

That’s how - in addition to nutrition and other health-promoting lifestyle factors - the right mindset can contribute to good health and longevity.

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