Mindset is defined as a series of self-perceptions or beliefs we have about ourselves. These beliefs determine our behavior, outlook and mental attitude – and a growing body of research is confirming that our perceptions about aging have tremendous power. Our attitudes about growing old matter more than many of us realize.
Adopting a growth mindset tops the charts as one of the most important things a person can do as they age.
Fixed vs growth mindset
According to Dr. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher on motivation, mindset falls into two straightforward categories – fixed and growth.
When a person has a fixed mindset, they believe that intelligence and skill are in a fixed place and there’s not much they can do to improve. They’ve hit their peak and they’re done learning. People with fixed mindsets don’t seek out feedback or ask for help. As a result, they quit improving, and tend to plateau.
A person with a growth mindset on the other hand sees intelligence as something that can always be expanded. They are more likely to try new things, accept that learning can be hard, ask for feedback and help, and continue to grow. Yes, even after retirement. These are the folks with the attitude that there’s always something new to learn no matter what their age.
Growth mindset and your health
Having a growth mindset is a big deal when it comes to your health. Research is showing that this kind of forward-thinking attitude, especially in your later years, does wonders for overall health and longevity. You’ll maintain your abilities and functions longer. Growth mindset helps maintain brain plasticity by stimulating different pathways in your brain too.
But it goes way beyond protecting our physical health. Adopting a growth mindset prompts you to develop new ways of thinking. It’s an attitude that can inspire you to live a satisfying and fulfilling life that’s full of purpose and meaning.
If you’re afraid your mindset needs some work, it’s not too late. No one is blessed with a 100% growth mindset, according to Dweck. It’s something that needs to be tended to and challenged continually.
What’s a new activity or skill you could try to nourish your growth mindset?
If you want to learn more, I’m including a link to a podcast episode I heard recently that is particularly relevant to this topic. Encore: The Key To Successful Aging? Mindset is Everything (45 Forward Podcast). Listen with a cup of tea or while you’re out for a walk.
More resources on mindset
Book: Mindset: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfill Your Potential. Dr. Carol S. Dweck. (I found it on Amazon)
Book: Beat Depression to Stay Healthier and Live Longer: A Guide for Older Adults and Their Families. Gary S. Moak, M.D. (I found it on Amazon)