With this post, I want to continue the discussion of the five pillars of nourishment, focusing on the fourth pillar: the mind’s diet. It’s important to nourish your mind with positivity. This entails mindset and self-compassion.
I’ve written before about how your mindset can affect your ability to lose weight, but the mindset is important for so much more than just weight loss. Studies have shown that your mindset affects performance in academics, athleticism, and business, as well as affecting certain health parameters.
According to Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers on mindset and motivation, there are two basic mindsets: fixed and growth. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she discusses how our conscious and unconscious beliefs can determine whether we succeed in getting what we want.
She describes a fixed mindset as a belief that your qualities are unchangeable, that your intelligence, personality, and moral character are set. This leads to only one constant goal of proving oneself, with only two possible outcomes: failure or success.
However, she goes on to describe a second option, the growth mindset, which is the belief that your qualities are a starting point from which you can develop. With this mindset, it’s not about failure or success, but rather about improvement.
Why a Growth Mindset Matters
When you believe that you are a certain way and you cannot change, you will prove it to yourself. When you fail at something, you will view it as reinforcement of what you can’t do, and you’re unlikely to continue trying after that.
However, if you believe that you can improve, then your failure does not define you. It might hurt, but it’s just something you have to work through. People with this mindset tend to try again, even after initial failures. This is such an important mindset to have.
For example, if you have a rough weekend and you “fall off the wagon” and eat something you shouldn’t, how will that affect you? With a fixed mindset, it means failure. It shows that you’re not capable of achieving your health goals. These may be unconscious thoughts that you’re not even aware of.
But with a growth mindset? It’s just a small setback, and you can improve tomorrow. It doesn’t mean anything more than that you had a rough weekend. Cultivating this kind of mindset will help you find much more success with your goals because you’ll be much less likely to give up after setbacks.
Along with mindset, I include self-compassion as part of the mind’s diet. I’ve written previously about the three elements of self-compassion, but I think it’s worth reviewing in relation to how your nourish your mind.
The first element is awareness. Being aware of your thoughts, what you’re saying to yourself, and how you respond to our failures is an important part of being mindful. Actively think about how many times you are negative toward yourself. Once you are aware of your thoughts, the next step is to try to have some self-compassion. Instead of being angry with yourself or calling yourself stupid when things don’t go perfectly, try to allow yourself some grace. And the final element of self-compassion is acknowledging our common humanity. Remembering that we are all human, that no one is perfect, may help you through those rough times and further allow compassion for yourself.
These things comprise the fourth pillar of nourishment, the mind’s diet. Having a growth mindset and positive self-acceptance and compassion will nourish your mind and allow you to grow.