Life is full of ups and downs and often times because our brains our wired to pay attention to the negative more, the losses are magnified, rehashed and fertile ground for self-criticism. Maybe you fall short on a test, don’t get the feedback you were expecting from a work project, end an intimate relationship, keep falling into bad habits or continue falling into bouts of stress, anxiety or depression. We see all of these as negatives in life.
But the key mindset that turns on this on it’s head and catalyzes growth and happiness is the learning mindset.
This is a single thread that weaves throughout Uncovering Happiness and also the newest release MBSR Every Day: Daily Practices from the Heart of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
Every single experience in life contains information to help us get better and better with our intentions in life.
If you’ve followed my writings you know I’m a big fan of a short phrase to help us grow from the inevitable obstacles of life:
Forgive, Investigate and Invite
It doesn’t matter whether you fell short in a parenting moment, a business meeting, an intimate relationship or in trying to create better habits. These are all learning opportunities for the experiences in life that are going to come our way.
- Forgive – You can forgive yourself for what happened. That was the past, you did the best you could with what you knew and what was going on. Hindsight is 20/20, it couldn’t have been any other way.
- Investigate – This isn’t meant to be self-indulgent and we don’t want to let ourselves off the hook. This is an opportunity to learn and grow. Look at what happened, investigate it to see what you’ve learned and what new understanding you might bring to the next moment.
- Invite – Now that you’re in the present moment, with this new understanding, make the choice to begin again.
From a larger perspective, you can’t possibly lose in life if everything that comes our way is an experience to learn and grow from.
This learning mindset is something to intentionally practice and repeat in life, turning it from a state of mind to a trait of your character. This can be done in the same way you learned how to walk, talk and ride a bike. As you bring it into your life over and again, the brain memorizes it as a procedural approach to life and it can start becoming more automatic.
What would the days, weeks and months ahead be like for you if you came from a learning mindset? Could you learn to get better at communicating in relationships, parenting, work, exercise, or bringing more play into your life?
Whatever answer arises, use that as motivation to apply this mindset.
Elisha Goldstein, PhD
PS – MBSR Every Day comes out June 1 and is available for Pre-order. Bob Stahl and I believe this little gem of a book conveys how to bring the heart of mindfulness and MBSR into every day life. As a pre-order bonus we’re giving away free access to an incredible online interactive program called MBSR for Stress and Anxiety. This is a high value program that we want you to have to help bring this into your life. We hope you take advantage of it, enjoy!
Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy