Why Mindset Matters Most

Mindset matters most because it drives our experiences:

Mindset >> beliefs >> behaviors >> outcomes

Here’s what I mean: You have a mindset that making a living doing what you love is impossible. Because you think it so much, you believe it. Because you believe something is impossible, you don’t try it. Because you don’t try it, guess who doesn’t make a living doing labors of love?

But here’s where the rubber really meets the road:

Mindset >> interpretations (or stories we tell ourselves)>> emotions >> attraction or repulsion

Here’s what I mean: Life happens; it’s up to us to tell the best-feeling stories we can about it. Not only is this smart from a feeling better standpoint, but also because bad-feeling emotions can thwart our best actions.

Emotions = energy in motion. Energy travels in waves, or vibes. Have you ever met someone who did the right things but still managed to turn you off? Master your emotions and don’t be that guy. And have you expected to find Kool & the Gang on a jazz station? Sounds absurd, but that’s what we do day to day—put out funk and act shocked when life doesn’t reciprocate with Blue Skies.

We’re like radios; we pick up what we’re tuned to. So if you want to rock ‘n’ roll, stop singing the blues.

From analogy to the real world

OK, I’ll stop with the analogies and make this practical with a story. Some years ago, I asked a friend to go to a meeting with me. I stood him up. He got angry. He found me the next day to chew me out. Looking at the situation from my friend’s perspective, you might take his side.

Now let’s look at the situation from mine: I asked a friend to attend a meeting with me. The day before we were set to go, my brother was killed in an accident. I decided to skip the meeting and sent my friend a message to that effect; he didn’t receive it. When he found me the day after I “stood him up,” I could see the anger on his face before he expressed it verbally. I asked whether he’d received my message. No. I told him what it was. In an instant, his anger became sympathy.

I tell this story to make five points:

  1. Give people the benefit of the doubt, especially people you know and whose behavior seems out of character.
  2. A single situation can elicit very different emotions; the way you feel about something can change as quickly as you change your story about it.
  3. Shifting gears from anger to sympathy indicates that a story you’re telling yourself is going in a positive direction.
  4. It’s easier shifting gears from anger to contentment when sliding into sympathy along the way. In other words, change your mind in increments if a radical shift is too much at once.
  5. Look for the best-feeling stories about life that you can find or you’re punishing yourself otherwise.

Sartre said Hell is other people. Other people are hell because we’d rather be “right” than generous in the stories we tell about them. But is it worth going to hell—and staying there—to be right about what you think?

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Read Mimi’s other messages:

Untangling What You Are From What You Do
Dealing With Rainy Workdays
Re-Thinking Tough Times