Within the psychology of behavior, there are two widely accepted mindsets that an individual can adopt: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that talents, traits, and abilities are innate and immovable – essentially, someone who is born smart and talented will remain smart and talented, and someone who is not born with those traits cannot attain them. On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset believes that intelligence and talent can be developed and improved over time and with consistent effort.
As with all “this or that” dilemmas, people do not live the entirety of their lives in one mindset or the other. The reality is that most of us have both mindsets, and that we fall into one or the other depending on the situation. The key distinction to highlight between these two mindsets is how one perceives failure; those with a fixed mindset are likely to perceive failure as an affirmation of their beliefs that they are simply lacking in the skill required to succeed, and that further attempts would also be futile. Someone with a growth mindset would consider failure as steppingstone to future success, understanding that failure is an opportunity to improve that required skill and try again.
When it comes to failures of lifestyle (which often take the form of breaking a diet, gaining weight, or not going to the gym), the mindset through which you perceive the failure can drastically change your long-term success in living a healthy life. For this reason, and specifically during this time of year, it is important to reframe such failures as a part of the life cycle and maintain a growth mindset.
The end of the year comes with a cluster of challenges for any health-aware individual, starting at the end of October with Halloween and leading up to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s. Though you likely do not celebrate ALL of those holidays, chances are you celebrate at least a few of them; and these are the kind of celebrations that tend to involve family gatherings and stuffing ourselves full of food that is, traditionally, a little too rich.
It must be said – this year social gatherings are NOT ADVISED, as the pandemic is still ongoing; in fact, it is worse now in the US than it has EVER BEEN. Just last week, over a quarter of a million NEW CASES were reported in a single day, breaking the record for most new cases reported in a day SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC.
New Year’s Resolutions
As a natural part of the cycle of the holiday season, it is all too common for us to look back on our merrymaking and overindulgence over the past few months and resolve to lose weight or go to the gym more (this coming year, we recommend hiking and running outdoors over going to gyms). It is also not uncommon for such a resolution to last only until February or so – often leaving us wondering why we are incapable of change or why we lack the willpower to improve ourselves.
There are many reasons why this is a flawed way of looking at personal change; first and foremost among them is the idea that willpower is solely responsible for self-improvement and lifestyle change. Willpower is a limited and valuable resource and trying to force a habit to take shape through willpower alone is exhausting and ineffective. Willpower is certainly a factor, but it is only one of a multitude, and certainly not the most important.
When it comes to habit creation and habit change, willpower is the spark to the flame, while your mindset and environment are the fuel that keeps the fire going. Without some fuel to burn, the sparks will sputter out within a few months, leaving you exhausted and demotivated from the exertion of raw willpower. The key to successful habit formation lies in the careful cultivation of your environment to help nudge you towards specific behaviors while your willpower “recharges”.
During the holiday season and the beginning of the next year, there are two common failures that many individuals must face: failure to adhere to a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season, and failure to adhere to healthy new year resolutions. In both cases, reframing those failures in the context of your lifelong journey towards health can help with long-term success, and careful planning can minimize the severity of such failures. We know that this can be a difficult road to navigate (even supplements can be confusing without professional guidance). As part of our lifestyle program, you will have the experience of our doctor and the expertise of our health coach as you navigate your path towards better health, especially during this pandemic. To learn more about our lifestyle program, visit our website here, or give us a call at (626) 314-6584.