In this post, we’ll have a discussion on why mindset is not overrated.
The self-help industry has been around for a while, and during this long run, a set of principles/ideas were so cemented into the global mind that they became a part what self-help is known to be. The ideas I’m talking about are: being positive, believing in yourself and to dream big. These three ideas can, in turn, be boiled down to one, which is that self-help is an act of managing one’s mindset for the purposes of having a better life. By better, I mean anything you consider at the moment to be better. It’s subjective and heavily dependent on who you are and what drives you, but achieving it, whatever “it” is, boils down to mindset. If you pay attention to any self-help book/course out there, chances are high that it can be boiled down into this simple idea/principle. They are all in one way or another about changing the way you think about what’s it’s possible in order to help you accomplish/achieve more in life.
Why Mindset is not overrated
The problem with the self-help industry is the same problem that any kind of group faces. The problem that for outsiders, the group is viewed as nothing more than the average of its members. If on average the members of a group behave in a certain way, the outsider perceives the group as being the way of the average. The problem with averages is that they are easily swayed by outliers. We think they are representative of the truth most of the time, but if some of the time the results are extreme, what we see is the extreme, even if most of the time, the results are… well…average looking. The self-help industry is a victim of the many who just like the fanatic, blindly believe and make claims about something to the point that they start looking for lack of a better word…well… crazy.
What I’m talking about is the positivity problem. The problem of assuming that one can get anything one wants if only one thinks positively about the desired goal/result, positively enough. And on the advent that one doesn’t get what one wishes, then the impulse is to assume that the few moments of negativity and doubt he/she couldn’t control were the culprit and not the fact that they didn’t work hard enough. When the positive thinker finally comes to the conclusion that its way was the wrong way, the impulse then becomes to take the complete opposite approach. I’m talking about cynicism, which is still the wrong way, and the reason why the positive becomes the cynic is not so much because the positive became enlightened, but because of a flaw in reasoning. Meaning that just because the extreme of an approach did not work, doesn’t mean that a milder implementation of it won’t. The best example of this truth is medicine. Take only the effective dosage. Take more than that and chances are that you’ll give birth to new problems on your attempt to put some to bed.
Give enough time to the same cycle of hopeful romantics turned cynics, and soon enough anyone who becomes a hopeful romantic is seen/perceived as naïve/inexperienced. The mere belief of any remotely uplifting future becomes then a sign of immaturity, not because the ones who believe in that really came to realize how immature it was, but because they failed when they took that kind of path as their path and on the first sign of massive failure due to the over-application of a good thing, they incorrectly assumed that being hopeful, is a recipe for an even more disastrous disastrous world.
Jim Rohn and the idea of new principles or new truths/new fundamentals
I always seek to learn something new from someone new, and one of the first few lessons I learned from the motivational speaker Jim Rohn was that there was/is no such a thing as new truths/fundamentals. In essence, the teaching states that Truths and fundamentals will remain as true and fundamental as they’ve always been now, and in the future, regardless of social norms or governing governments. What is really true today will remain tomorrow. If not, then you’ll at least get a glimpse at how delusional you can be. Sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.
The idea that you have to believe to achieve is one of these truths but not due to the reasons you might think. Again, sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.
A part of being enlightened is to give in to the idea that you have no idea of what you’re talking about. It’s about knowing you’re ignorant even when you think you’re enlightened, and instead of unsuccessfully wishing your way into wisdom, to search your way into wisdom. To REALLY accept you know nothing, not to look humble, but to REALLY be humble even when no one is looking.
When one first buys into the core ideas of the self-help movement one find itself enlightened. Oddly enough the same happens when one fails and falls into cynicism disguised in realism. They are both extremes, and as Aristotle suggested once: the truth is in the golden mean. Extremes rarely tell us the truth and yet we can’t help but fall for extreme ideologies, especially when disguised as “just rationalist views”… free of any agenda on the surface and still possessors of invisible goals.
Why is mindset not overrated? Because it’s not overrated.
I guess the theme of this post could just as well be “Why is mindset not underrated” and the answer would be just the same: Because it’s not underrated.
The one who so deeply believes in the power of the universe will exacerbate the importance of mindset, while the complete skeptic can’t help it by to downplay its value.
The truth is that if we overrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any action behind our intentions, while if we underrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any intention behind our actions.
The idea that the reason why one can fall prey to the belief or idea that mindset is just what readers of the secret talk about when they want to convince you that the universe is what will give you what you want is incorrect.
The thought process is wrong but the action somehow comes correct, in the same way, that one can be a fake doctor and recommend the right medicine even though the rationality behind the recommendation is incorrect.
Mindset is important because the brain can only work at its full potential when it has a good one. A person who doesn’t believe it can solve a problem or accomplish a goal will not have the resolve to plow through when the moment comes that insights fail to come or results fail to materialize. This is the risk you put yourself under when you remove any belief or motivation from your goal accomplishment attempts. You find yourself divorced of the kind of emotional energy you can only get when you have faith in your vision, and when you do fail, you incorrectly assume that it wasn’t meant to be, or you weren’t good enough. Just as there is such a thing as fanatically believing on the power of belief, there is also such a thing as fanatically disbelieving on it. The disease is the same but it is manifested in different sceneries, like how different bodies can respond differently to the same disease. For the extremist, the disease is the extremism of its beliefs, and the body is the belief. The result is the same: death caused by an over-application of a good thing.
Mindset is vital
Another way to look at this question is through the perspective of one who has read the book The one thing by Gary Keller. This point of view is one in which the thinker chooses to think about only those things that matter enough such that when taken care of will reduce the amount of work to accomplish what one has in mind. In other words, think about what’s vital and ignore the rest.
Thinking along these lines, it becomes easy to see why subjects like health and mindset are important. They are vital to the accomplishment of anything in life. Without health, there is no room in anyone’s head to think about making money or success. Without the right mindset, there is no drive to accomplish anything; since it can be hard for anyone to do hard things if one doesn’t believe on its own ability to overcome obstacles or solve problems.
Just because something is preached by almost everyone you get in contact with doesn’t make the advice less valuable, in the same way, that just because everybody talks about how important it is to eat healthy and exercise doesn’t mean that healthy eating and exercising are not powerful pieces of advice. The same goes for mindset. You’ll find a tone of people out there preaching about it, some who know what they are talking about, and some who just heard it from someone else and are on the quest to looking smart/knowledgeable by re-cooking advice they’ve heard somewhere else from someone else.
The point in this post is to make you aware that mindset is not so much about what you are, but a tool to get you what you want. It’s by no means the silver bullet some people make us think it is, and neither is it a delusion of any kind, like some people, make us think it is. A mindset is just a tool. To say it is or it isn’t overrated is to make a similar judgment but about a tool of any kind. Overuse it and soon the tool becomes a weapon. Underuse it and soon you’ll be made aware of how much “money” you have been leaving on the table.