Mindsets, meaning and the ways we colour the world
Sometimes, when walking on the road at night, the philosopher Agnes Callard likes to walk on the double yellows. One evening she decided to lie in the middle of the road, just to see how it would feel.
So begins an article on the strange appeal of perverse actions in the New Yorker this week. As the psychologist Paul Bloom explains, “When one is in an ‘unruly’ frame of mind, such an act can be appealing for precisely that reason”.
Our mindsets determine the way we experience life and yet, without conscious attention, we barely notice the mental filters we’re using at all.
Mindset (def): a set of assumptions, methods or notions, a world view or philosophy of life.
The frequently-cited Carol Dweck distinguishes fixed and growth mindsets. Those with a growth mindset believe intelligence can be developed, which leads to a desire to learn, to embrace challenges and persist in the face of setbacks. By contrast, those with a fixed mindset who believe intelligence is static seek to look smart and tend to avoid challenges, give up easily and feel threatened by the success of others.
Of course things aren’t so black and white and normal humans fall into and out of either viewpoint, but it illustrates how our beliefs (whether self-determining or deterministic) don’t just colour our reality, they shape it.
And what about other mindsets?
What defines the mindset in which you most commonly exist?
Freedom / Restriction
Growth / Fixity
Scarcity / Abundance
Challenge / Comfort
Fear / Bravery
Optimism / Pessimism
Progression / Retrospection
Introspection / ‘Outrospection’
More interestingly, what happens when you notice your existing mindset, and what happens when you deliberately shift into another?
Which new possibilities can you see? And what now seems less possible?
Do you feel, think or act differently?
And does your sense of purpose – or of what is meaningful to you – change?
What happens to your mindset when you surf the edges of the Internet (such as little-known blogs and niche-interest forums). Does it make you think differently? We spend much of our time surfing the highways of the Internet, the mainstream news outlets which all lead us to varying but nonetheless conventional modes of thought.