Pencils vs. Crayons

I’ve always thought that true happiness was a mindset. That you couldn’t find happiness, or buy it, but if you truly believed you could be happy, then you would be. It wasn’t until I was in a business meeting last week that I realized I was wrong. Happiness isn’t a mindset, it’s the result of a mindset.

There are two different types of mindsets: Fixed and Growth. A fixed mindset is the belief that people have set skills, talents, and intelligence. I see this as the black-and-white mindset, you’re either good at something or you’re not. Then theres a growth mindset, which is the belief in ones ability to develop or change. I see this as the more colourful mindset, like a 64 pack of crayons, you aren’t limited, you can choose to be whatever colour you want.

In the meeting I was attending, we were talking about how each mindset can have a different impact at work. If you are stuck in a fixed mindset, you, or your associates, will feel just that, stuck. You’ll catch yourself saying things like, “We never hit our goals before, so we never will”, or “I’m just bad at that, I always will be”. You may be really good at something and very successful in your current role, but a fixed mindset creates a glass ceiling on your achievements. Focusing only on the end result, will discourage you from trying new things from the fear of failure. However if you have a growth mindset, you break that glass ceiling and you have room to thrive. You embrace the power of the words “yet” and “will”, and celebrate effort rather than achievement. Having this mindset encourages your associates to develop themselves and try new things.

Being the Mental Health advocate I am, I couldn’t help but think of how the two mindsets also affect your wellbeing. If you are someone who struggles with depression or anxiety, like me, you may find yourself in a fixed mindset from time to time. Dealing with these obstacles make it really easy to say things like “I won’t ever be happy”, or “I just can’t cheer up, I never will” and when you’re repeatedly saying these things, you start to believe them. I know for a fact, how difficult breaking out of the habit of negative self-talk can be, and it can definitely prove to be a very long task. Personally, I managed to chip away at the habit by meditating, however I think that if I had known about fixed vs. growth mindsets then, it would have been much easier. Knowing the signs of a fixed mindset would have helped me realize that the things I was thinking, or saying to myself, were do to my mindset, not the chemical imbalance in my brain.

I’m not saying you can’t be happy if you have a fixed mindset, but I strongly believe that the “glass ceiling” effect I spoke to earlier, also applies to your happiness. If you have a fixed mindset, you put a limit on your happiness. You may be really happy in one moment in time, but it may only be temporary. If you have a growth mindset, your happiness is never-ending.

I can now confidently say that I have a growth mindset, maybe I always have and I just got sidetracked along the way. I think that might be the case for everyone. That everyone has the ability to have a growth mindset, they just need to want it.

I still believe that you need to believe you can be happy before you can be, but now I realize believing in yourself is actually having a growth mindset, and happiness is the outcome.

Acceptance.

I’m painfully optimistic. I’ll always root for the underdog. I’m stubborn. I’ll always take chances. I’m headstrong. I’ll always see something broken as something whole.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll agree with either one of the traits above, or you like to fix things. I’ve always liked picking at things, finding out how to break them and then patching them back up. I’ve been known to “break everything I touch”, which sounds a little like Midas. I mean, I do tend to break quite a lot of things, but not everything. Unlike Midas I have the ability to return things back to it’s natural state, or at least try and for me, there is no better feeling than seeing something broken put back together. Now this doesn’t always go as planned and often times I’m just left with something broken, which infuriates me. I hate not being able to fix something, even more so when I was the one who broke it.

When I was at my lowest of lows I saw myself as this broken shell of a human. I was breaking down almost on the daily, and I had started cutting slits in my skin to let anything left inside me out. It felt like I was a ghost, lost between worlds, stuck in purgatory. It was obvious I needed to be fixed; My doctors were giving me medication, my therapist was giving me her time multiple times a week, everyone around me was trying to fix me. This went on for months and then I realized that I couldn’t wait for someone else to fix me, I needed to fix myself.

My way of fixing my mind, was accepting it. I had to accept the fact that I would have days when I feel like I’m stuck in quicksand, and that from time to time I’m going to have impulsive thoughts and think I see something thats not really there. Some things are going to make me anxious, some things are going to make me paranoid, and I’m going to need to take medication every day. I needed to accept that these things are okay. These things are “normal”. I couldn’t expect anyone to accept me when I didn’t agree, and now that I do, I don’t care what you think.

Wanting to fix things isn’t a bad trait, you do however need to know when to stop changing things and start accepting things. This is the case when it comes to people, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change someone who doesn’t want to change, but you can accept them for who they are. Acceptance can be difficult, especially when you’re as stubborn as I am. You may always want to help, always want to do what you can to make someone’s life a little easier for them, save them from any pain. But some people don’t need saving, some people need to save themselves, and you have to accept that.

You’ll never be able to change someone into who you want them to be, but you can change the way you think and accept them for who they are. 

My Own Best Friend

While flicking through the “Quotes” category of Pinterest, I stumbled across this;

“And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?”

I don’t think I ever would have named myself, which is kind of scary. You’re supposed to love yourself, right? But I not sure I know how to love myself, or what that even means, so I figured I should probably investigate.

My first thought was; Why should you love yourself? Love makes people happy. If you picture someone in love, they’re positive, they’re smiling, they’re happy. So if you love yourself, do you have a better chance at being happy? They say happiness comes from within, which makes sense seeing positive thinking evokes happiness. If that’s true, then being happy with who you are starts with thinking positive of yourself and ends with loving yourself.

My second thought was, How do you know if you love yourself? This question was a little more difficult for me. I’m not one to use the word “love” very much. There have been a few points in my life when I wasn’t sure if I was capable of feeling that emotion, and I’m still not 100% sure. So asking “How do you know if you love yourself?”, quickly turns externally for me, into “How do know if you love anything?” To further investigate I look to the top of my “Things you love” list, my friends and family. I think of my best friends and what I want for them; I want them to do things that make them happy, to do great things and be successful, to date the best of the best and feel loved, to never have to deal with negativity, and to know they have someone they can always depend on so they never feel alone. I thought about how I always want the absolute best for them.

Considering all that, do I love myself? No.

I’m not positive on how to change my answer, but I think I need to start treating myself, the same way I treat my friends. If my friend was feeling sad, or alone, I’d tell them its okay to feel down, and remind them of all the positive things they have in their life. If my friend was in a bad situation, or dating a horrible person, I’d tell them they deserve better, that they deserve happiness. So why do I tell myself the exact opposite? Why do I trap myself in the shadows but push everyone else out into the sunlight? Maybe it’s from depression, or history of self-harm, or maybe it’s just my personality, but it has got to stop. I need to become my own best friend.

Being my own best friend sounds a little sad, like I don’t have any friends, which is not the case. I have a lovely group of friends, but it doesn’t matter if I have 2 friends or 200 friends, when I’m feeling sad and down, I’m completely alone. I push myself into a dark place inside, but function completely normally on the outside, so no one knows I’m hurting. This is why I need to become my own best friend. If I’m hiding my happiness and burying it so deep it’s unreachable, how can I expect my friends to save me? You can’t rely on anyone to understand your feelings, other than yourself.

I need to rescue myself. I need to love myself.

I’ll always be my own worst critic, but starting today I’m my biggest supporter as well. I’m writing that statement here to hold myself accountable, so I don’t let myself down, or the two people that might actually read this. I’ve been told before how I can be quite contradictory, and this kind of proves that, but arguing makes relationships stronger and I’m here for me ’til death do us part.