What is mindset?
When I first arrived in the United States, I kept hearing this word, “mindset”.
Mindset here, mindset there, all of the self-help gurus, entrepreneurs, and photographers were talking about it as part of their growth and learning. I wasn’t quite sure what it was so I did what any normal person who is looking for information does, I asked Google. “What is the mindset?”
And the answer I got:
Your mindset is what gives you your worldview or philosophy of life.
Let’s take two simple sentences that clarify the concept of mindset:
Where does your mindset come from?
Our mindset comes from how we are raised, the environment we grow up in, the experiences and situations we have in our lives that shape who we become. Yes, of course, each of us has a unique character but let’s focus on the other parts for a moment.
When we are younger, we (usually) conform to what society expects for us, it’s what most of us are taught from an early age. Our families want us to be safe in life. But that often means we live sheltered lives, not fully experiencing life with all of its challenges, failures, successes and accomplishments. Not trying something because we might have the chance to fail.
Because of being sheltered, we think that we are safe and don’t have to worry about difficulties in life. But in reality, we think we have safety but what we have really done is given away our freedom, independence and ability to create and grow. We are taught to be afraid of trying and failing. And in the process, learning and growing which gives us the seeds of success for the future. Being able to take a risk and not fearing failure is part of the process of becoming successful. Because your success is built on top of past failures and experiences. Opportunity has risks but it also brings the rewards of a rich and fulfilled life. The “safe” life can sometimes turn into a life lived unfulfilled and full of regrets and not really safe at all.
We always assume that we live our lives as it should be, based on the advice of our parents, our friends or just by looking around us and seeing at what most people do and thinking that will be right for us too.
I remember that feeling of not being happy and feeling like something is wrong. It’s like finding yourself in a limbo when the people around you think you’re going through a phase that will pass. But in reality, your head is telling you something isn’t right but everyone around you is telling you that it’s you that is wrong for questioning yourself and your situation.
You have to work in an office. You have to have a boyfriend. You have to go to the gym everyday to have a perfect body. Who are you to have a different opinion? You have to do this, you have to do that, you need to buy this. It’s never ending, there is always someone who has an expectation of what you need to do.
I started to realize that I was responsible for myself. I listened to myself and that little voice in my head that was telling me the truth, that if I wasn’t happy with something in my life, that I was the one that needed to change. And I followed that voice because I was afraid. I was afraid of change but I was more afraid of being stuck in the same unhappy situation forever.
At school, we learn languages, history, mathematics but where do we get our lessons in how to approach and be successful and confident in life? How do we prepare for dealing with a life full of challenges? Where do we go when we get lost along the way? How do you know what you don’t know?
That’s why it’s important to take guidance from people you look up to and feel like you can learn from. Do you really want to take life advice from someone who has led an unfulfilled life? Or from a person that doesn’t inspire you? Wouldn’t you rather learn from someone who is in a position where you want to be in the future?
When you start to understand and believe in yourself, you start to create your own opportunities. It’s never luck that something great happens to you. It’s because you had the mindset of someone able to seek out opportunities. It’s because you made a series of small choices and decisions that gave yourself a bigger opportunity or chance. When you have a mindset where you aren’t the victim, but the person in charge of your destiny, you suddenly see doors where none existed. You are able to be out in the world where you will attract and seek out opportunities. That’s not luck, that’s your own initiative and being present and responsible for your life.
Your Experiences Past + Story
Have you ever left somewhere and returned after a long period of time? Like leaving your hometown and then coming back to visit your family? Or running into an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time? What do you notice? Is everything and everyone exactly the same as you left it all those years ago? Has anything changed? Usually everything is just like you left it and what’s changed is actually you. You’re the one that left your previous circumstances and expanded your mind and experiences to transform who you were into who you are.
After almost three years of living in California, during one of my trips back home to visit my family in Italy, I realized that I was different. Something about my way of thinking was no longer what it once was. I realized that my mind had changed during those years in America but I could not explain it in concrete words. Changes were happening to me but I was still learning more about myself.
Problems are part of life, how you deal with them is what will separate you from everyone else.
My mom recently told me, “Lilly you have become wise”. I had to agree with her.
It’s not that I was dumb. The reality is that I was using only a small part of my abilities to resolve things. I was clouded under layers and feelings of insecurity and doubt and stopped me from ever getting started. My mindset was stuck and fixed and wasn’t letting me move forward in life.
The young Lilly kept complaining, “but why is it all happening to me?” or “what a bummer there are always problems after problems in this world”. That person, who was young and who didn’t want to accept responsibility for her actions and choices in life.
Today, I know that we all have our problems and struggles. Some more than others, some less than others, but we ALL, and I mean ALL of us, have our own kind of challenges to deal with.
Problems are part of everyday life. It’s really easy to complain about them instead of doing something to solve them. The more you get used to solving your problems, the more you will train your brain to recognize and overcome them. And day by day, you will realize all the impossibilities and struggles you had weren’t as great as you thought. No problem is solved in one big step but rather a series of small steps forward. Each step forward takes you towards the solution.
We must defeat that sense of “it’s not my fault” that holds us back. It makes us think negatively and with limitations. It makes us look around and think that the lives of others are better than ours. Instead of being grateful for what we have, we compare ourselves to idealized versions of others, without understanding their struggles or real-life situations.
For every problem you have, try to reposition yourself. It’s important to know why and where the problem came from but put that aside for a moment. Try to brainstorm and think about what YOU can do that will resolve the problem. Don’t complain about how unfair it is to be in the situation you’re in (even though it might be true). Don’t focus on the problem, spend a moment to focus on the solution. I bet the solution is more simple than you realized. Now you have a choice, do you want to solve the problem or focus on the blame. Once you choose to solve the problem, you have one less thing to worry about.
What kind of mindset are you bringing to your life? Are you solving your problems or complaining about having them?
You are the master of yourself and your mindset. You may have unique challenges in situations in life and that’s not your fault. It is your decision and choice to let those conditions define who you are as a person and hold you back.
You alone have the unique ability to train your mind and create your own success. Consider it like going to the gym. Small gains over a long period of time turn into major milestones and great victories. You won’t get the six-pack abs in one day, but after 1 year, it’s a very real possibility because you put in the hard work, energy and effort to be great.
This is the part of our character that CAN BE MODIFIED and improved. The only difference is that when you change your way of thinking for the better your life will improve. Even if it rains and you are walking around without an umbrella, I’m sure you will find a way to see the positive side of it by playing in the rain.
It will not be easy but you can make small changes everyday that will lead to bigger impacts in your life.
Our brain is like a hibernating bear, the more time that goes by, the lazier it becomes and the less it wants to struggle. It’s used to working in a certain way for a given situation.
You can’t expect to change from day to day, but what you can do is make small changes. Little by little and day after day.
I thought “man, it’s not my fault !!” . You too right? But it was totally wrong.
Oh how wrong I was, now that I look back on how much time I have lost. A lot. But then I think “many people don’t change, and you did, be proud”.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Now think about this. If I had never decided to make changes in my life, how would I expect my life to change? If you continue to do the same things, isn’t it a bit crazy to expect a different outcome?
If I continued to blame the world for all of my problems, for not being lucky enough, for not being tall enough, for always being against me, I would have always been the victim in my story. If I didn’t take charge of my life, my decisions, my actions, my well-being, then who else would?
Is it realistic to expect any changes in my life without making any changes to myself?
Most likely not. I would have remained locked in my crystal ball continuing to complain and living a life as a dissatisfied person. But today I am here to tell you that we can change, regardless of where we live, who we are and what our job is if we listen to the people who stimulate us, who appreciate that they motivate us, we all have this opportunity not to forget it.
You need to be the change you wish to see.
I’m here to tell you: DO IT !!!!!!
I realized that I could improve my way of thinking only and exclusively thanks to my experience, using my head at every challenge that each day reserved for me. I realized that many things were out of my control in life, but there are lots of things that I could change.
With that idea, I began to take control over my life and felt that I can guide the direction it will take. But this could never have happened if I accepted my life as it “should have been”.