I absolutely LOVE listening to podcasts. I feel privileged to be part of amazing conversations and often find myself getting lost in them as if I was in the room too. This week, I was listening to Pema Chodron regarding: Dealing with Difficult times on Oprah’s Super Soul series. She’s an American Tibetian Buddhist and author on fearlessness and compassion among other mindful living concepts. It was awesome. Check it out if you get a chance!
Pema struck me with a comment she made regarding her definition of spirituality and how it differs from religion. She stated religion can often cause us to be more rigid in our thinking about the beliefs and structure, while spirituality is more expansive, all encompassing, and more fluid. Her phrasing to capture this specifically was- “are you a river or a rock?”
This concept resonated with me instantly, as I believe it transfers well beyond the parameters of spirituality and into the type of work I do everyday. It’s something I’ve taught for years with students and families regarding the concept of Fixed and Growth Mindsets. This originated through the work of Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Standford, leading researcher on motivation and success, and author of the book Mindset.
Carol Dweck breaks down the mindsets very simply in this way: Fixed: You believe that your talents, traits, and intelligence are “fixed”, basically, you are what you are. Whereas the Growth Mindset is explained as being malleable and able to adjust, grow, and change with things you learn and practice over time.
As a therapist, I’m well aware I lean heavily on the value I place on having a growth mindset. I work with people knowing, from first hand experience, that they can change when they learn more information and choose to apply it to better their lives. However, I’ve also seen fixed mindsets drown people in their own misery because they genuinely weren’t able to see it any other way. At the end of the day, it’s our “Mindset” that’s calling the shots in our lives.
Take a minute to consider your overall way of thinking. Are you a river- free flowing, flexible, open, willing to take on challenges, see with anticipation what’s coming up next? Or are you more often a rock: stuck, rigid, unable to move to see what other opportunities there are, and unwilling to adjust.
Who comes to mind when you think of the “Rock” fixed mindset? Is it you? Is it someone who’s always negative and struggles to see the positive side of challenges? Someone who chronically complains and is unable to identify creative solutions or positive contributions?
On the other hand, Who comes to mind when you think of a “River” Growth mindset? Is it you? Is it someone who offers insights and is willing to brainstorm when faced with difficulty? Is it someone you know well? Is it someone you haven’t seen in a while who you might benefit connecting with again to rejuvenate or inspire you to try new ways of thinking?
Who we surround ourselves with and what we believe about ourselves and the world is directly correlated to our success and opportunities. One of my favorite quotes is “You become what you believe” Oprah Winfrey.
These conversations are designed to get us thinking bigger. I’d love to hear where you see yourself as a rock and where you see yourself as a river. We’re all navigating life trying our best to stay out of our own way. Let’s keep asking the questions that make us better 🙂
Till next time friends…