Is your brain a coach potato or a triathlete?

Is your brain a coach potato or a triathlete?

Why do some people sail through life, face challenges head on and embrace difficulties with open arms, while others retreat in the face of adversity?

According to Prof Carol Dwerck, it is the mindset, the firm belief that difficulties are just new ways to grow, that challenges need to be embraced, that there is no finite set of abilities, skills or talents - anything is possible.

A growth mindset accepts that you are in control of your abilities, that despite having talent, you are not defined by that talent, but by the ability to grow and learn. Talent gets you a ticket to the game. Continuous effort, learning and growth, helps you finish the game.

The opposite of a growth mindset is the belief that you are born with a skill or talent, you either have it or don't.

We all move on a continuum with a fixed mindset on one side and a growth mindset on the other. The challenge is to make sure we always lean more towards a growth mindset.

But can we develop a growth mindset? The short answer is yes. Our brains are not static. Neuroscientists have proven that we can influence our brains to develop new neural pathways, to change the meaning we attach to information, events or actions.

After all, thoughts creative feelings and feelings create actions.

Below are six ways to set the mind up for growth - because positive thoughts, will create positive feelings will creative positive actions:

1. Set the tone for each day

Instil a habit for yourself, kids or anybody around you.

Start every morning by completing the sentence with an intention, action or mindset phrase: “Today I will have a great day by….”

2. Reward small steps

Take small steps and reward yourself with a positive comment and physical expression - sounds weird, but your brain responds to this by releasing positive neurochemicals. Start by selecting/breaking down smaller tasks. Then compliment yourself for each small step you take to accomplish your goal. Starting your fitness regime from zero by running 5 km on the first try is not a good idea. Your goal is to eventually run 5 km, so start with the smallest of tasks and compliment yourself on each step. Exaggerate - you brain will love it.

3. Switch up your routine

  • Brush teeth with your non-dominant hand
  • Learn to write with your non-writing hand
  • Find a new way to tie a shoelace
  • Surprise your brain with something different every day.
  • Give it a reason to work harder - if it feels uncomfortable, you are on the right track.

4. Set your cell phone, computer, tablet aside

The brain works better if it has some free time. Setting aside all the electronics, means your brain can have some space to compute, to think and to resolve challenges.

Take a walk, sleep on it and without any effort, you come up with a solution. When we learn something new, our brains work really hard to ‘get it’. It needs some time to process, to work it out and if you are constantly engaged in scrolling, watching, tagging, the brain has no free time to reflect, review and find new solutions.

5. Give thoughts positive energy

The brain releases a range of feel-good neuro-chemicals related to forward movement or in pursuit of goals. Knowing this, you can reward your thoughts - change your perspective. Encountering difficulties or challenges should never result in a hard stop. It is only a sign that there is another way, another route to explore.

To ensure your brain releases those feel-good neuro-chemicals, always compliment yourself, commend yourself and soon difficulties or challenges will become something you take in your stride, something that you can and will overcome.

Thoughts create feelings, feelings create behaviours.

6. Use meditation, hypnosis or yoga to focus

Neuroscientists suggest that two important situations need to be present to open the brain up for neuroplasticity - focus and urgency. By releasing the right neuro-chemicals, the brain is able to find new neural pathways.

Meditation, hypnosis, yoga all contribute to focus and urgency in different ways. Whereas Yoga and meditation have largely been accepted as mindfulness, focus, relaxation and even manifestation techniques, hypnosis is still somewhat of a mystery to most people.

Neuroscientists only started researching and understanding the benefits of hypnosis. Few other technique are as effective as Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) to create neural pathways almost instantly.