We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, and we all have the same tools – the human body and mind – to make things happen, yet it’s painfully clear that some people just have that special sauce when it comes to achieving greatness and getting shit done.
Productivity and success become much easier when you have your health. I don’t think anyone would argue that. The human body is without a doubt something that can (and should) be optimized to transform your life, but the mind is the engine that drives it.
In this article, I’m going to teach you 3 simple mind-shifts that lead to more success, more happiness, and a radically improved life…but first, a story.
The Infamous Shoes Salesmen Story
Maybe you’ve heard this story before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, it’s a perfectly simplistic example that illustrates the difference between a positive mindset and a negative one.
It’s about a British shoe manufacturer looking to potentially expand their market into Africa. They decide to send two salesmen to investigate the situation and report back on whether or not they think it would be a worthwhile venture.
The first salesman reports back, “This is a terrible business opportunity, no one wears shoes.”
The second salesman reports back, “This is a fantastic business opportunity, no one wears shoes.”
This particular part of Africa might be a great place to sell shoes, or it might not be. Based on this story, we really don’t have enough information to make a truly educated call.
But regardless of which salesman was right, the second one had the positive mindset to see the potential and would be much more likely to try expanding the market to Africa.
This story, more than anything, is about seeing opportunities and benefits, instead of problems and disadvantages. We tend to restrict possibilities based on silly mental lies we tell ourselves to avoid discomfort, change, and disrupting the status quo.
How can you relate this back into your own life?
How many things have you not even tried doing simply because you talked yourself out of them?
Why You Must Change Your Mindset
All action is governed by some form of thought – conscious or unconscious – that precedes it.
This means that negative thoughts most likely yield negative actions, and positive thoughts yield positive actions.
I’m a firm believer that overnight success, except in a few rare cases, is a myth. It usually comes as a result of many positive actions applied over a long period of time. If you cultivate a mindset that supports and drives those positive actions, then success becomes the only possible result over a long enough duration.
Furthermore, just like true happiness comes from within (in the form of gratitude and self-love), most success begins as an inner journey. When you learn to master the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of your mind, you begin to act the way you feel.
Your mindset is by far the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.
It will either restrict you from ever getting started, or carry you farther than you ever thought possible.
Let’s dive in.
1. Stop Being the Victim
“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”
There are some people in this world – and when I say some, I mean a ridiculous high number – who love to play the victim.
“This always happens to me.”
“Of course it rains when I’m on vacation. I’m not allowed to have a good time ever.”
“I’ll never get in shape. Thanks to my job I’m always tired and don’t have the time.”
You know the type. I know the type. We all know the type.
This line of thinking is so popular because it shifts the blame from ourselves to outside factors.
It’s much easier to not feel as bad about being out of shape when you can blame your boss instead of your own laziness and lack of prioritization.
It’s also easier to blame the weather for your miserable time instead of your lack of imagination or sense of gratitude.
If you want to get out of your funk and transform your life for the better, you need to stop blaming everything else and take responsibility for your own life. Yes, not everything that happens to you is your fault, but how you react is 100% under your control.
Escaping the victim mentality begins with awareness; catching yourself when you start shifting the blame to something else.
The more you practice this, the more you will realize how often you do it. Even I still catch myself doing this from time to time. Anyone who says they don’t is probably lying.
Focus on first becoming more aware, then focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t. Over time this will start to become the norm, and you will no longer be the victim.
2. Ditch the ‘All or Nothing’ Mentality
I saw a Life Pro Tip (LPT) on Reddit the other day…
“LPT: If you’re trying to break a habit, don’t say “This is the last time I’m doing it” to yourself. Instead, say “This is the first time I’m not doing it.”
It’s brilliant. And it’s something I’ve implemented in my own life without even realizing it.
Every time I’d try forcing myself to stop binge drinking or go to the gym, it would end in massive failure.
I’d come up with these totally awesome and viable plans like lifting 5 days per week for an hour each day, or no booze for a month – both 100% doable for someone who’s already developed those habits.
But for a beginner trying to make the change, I might as well have tried single-handedly solving world hunger. I would have ended up with the same result.
It wasn’t until I started approaching change as an option rather than a demand that I began to see positive transformation.
When I finally began eating healthier, I told myself “it’s OK if you go for the fast-food, but this time I’m going to choose the home-cooked meal because I want to.”
That might’ve been the only healthy choice I made all week at first, but I fucking made it.
Slowly, I began making more and more of these choices, continually building little win upon little win, until eventually, I was eating something healthy every day.
When you leave the bad option on the table, it becomes empowering to know that you made the better choice again, and again, and again…
That’s when it starts to stick.
3. Approach Everything with a “Beginner’s Mind”
This is something Leo Babauta of Zen Habits talks about frequently. To learn how to fully adopt a beginner’s mind, I highly suggest you read one of his posts.
For the purpose of this article, I just want to jumpstart your brain a little bit.
The essence of having a beginner’s mind, to me at least, means having fun with things. Just like a toddler finds unbounded joy in exploring the universe around him, you can take that same approach for anything you want to do.
By looking at things with a beginner’s mind, you remove any sense of arrogance you previously held onto. You remove restriction.
Instead of being scared to start a business because you know the statistics, you explore the possibility of succeeding.
Beginners take things slow and always keep an open mind. They aren’t afraid to experiment.
Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight.
Previous knowledge convinces you that the Atkins Diet is the best and only way to go.
As you start working through the program, you remember the 3 or 4 times in the past you tried and failed. This time is no different.
So you decide to change things up. Maybe the Atkins Diet isn’t the only possibility.
You start by trying a bunch of different things – exercising, making healthier food choices, and eating less.
You eventually take in so much knowledge from research and personal experience that things start working for you.
It doesn’t happen overnight, and you’re OK with that.
You ditched the rigidity of a non-beginner’s mind and instead found something that actually works for you.
One of the keys to growth and massive change is admitting that you can’t possibly know everything there is to know, and that the only viable option is to embrace the learning you have ahead.
Where to Go from Here?
As you continue to practice these mind-shifts, you will slowly become a better person having done so.
Success, and the necessary changes to get there, will become easier and easier.
Your previously negative thoughts will turn to positive ones. You will begin to view a world of possibilities instead of endless restrictions.
Before long, you will become what seems a superhero version of yourself.
If you need any additional help in forming new habits or creating behavioral change, I’m no doctor, but I have compiled a ton of useful information in my Engineer Your Habits mega-guide.
Between that and my blog, I’m on a mission to help others create last change.
Now go do some positive thinking.
Jason Gutierrez teaches young professionals and entrepreneurs how to build better habits. He writes at themonklife.net about optimizing health, overcoming resistance, and achieving your goals. Sign up for his free newsletter to get practical advice and tips for becoming better, faster, healthier.