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Published on January 30, 2020

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Build Your Mindset

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Build Your Mindset

Ever since Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, has been published in 2007, “the growth mindset” has been a buzzword. I’ve already talked about its power in the past. How it can be the key to deeper learning, and growth in many areas of your life.

And there have plenty of studies that have continued to explore the growth mindset.[1] But one thing that I haven’t touched on yet is that while we can be fostering a growth mindset, Dweck makes an important note:

“The path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.”

What this means is not only should we be creating an environment, but indulge in growth mindset activities. Activities that can help us develop ourselves further and enjoy the process.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

For the uninitiated, a growth mindset is a mindset coined by Carol Dweck, Dweck talks about two mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Based on her research, Dweck came to realize that whether a child would succeed or fail boiled down to their mindset. She realized that those who were encouraged to learn more had a different attitude and behaviour about everything in life compared to others.

For example, one student would see challenges as opportunities to grow while others would give up after they failed the first time. She attributed these behaviors to the two mindsets I mentioned above.

But though Dweck’s research covered children, adults aren’t that different. We are after all a more mature version of our habits as children in some cases.

For example, look at our own goals in life. Are you someone who doesn’t set them or gives up after you failed? Chances are you have a fixed mindset which suggests that everything you do is based on your current skills. You also – in all likelihood – have stopped learning about your industry or growing your skills.

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Unless you have a growth mindset.

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Try

So if you are looking to be growing yourself, it’s important to develop your mindset. One such way is through growth mindset activities. Even though it’s best to learn and use these at a younger age, we can still change our ways as we grow older. As the saying goes,

“The best time to grow a tree was ten years ago. The second best time to grow one is right now.”

With that in mind, here are some growth mindset activities you can try out.

1. Self Exploration

If it’s not clear already, our current mindset influences how we shape our future moving forward. If we have a fixed mindset, chances are likely that we’ll be stuck in the same position we are in right now.

So one thing that we can do to change that is doing some growth mindset activities that encourage us to change. One such activity is self-exploration. This means diving into your mindset and start making changes to that mindset.

To help with that, I suggest watching the video ‘Lost Generation’. It’s a two-minute video, but the idea is to get others to watch the video, and for you and the others to discuss what they found about this video.

The idea of the discussions is to touch on how the future changes based on the attitude we adopt today. You want to end this experiment with the question: What happens when we change our mindsets?

If you can’t do this in a group or with someone else, you can still gain some benefits by asking about how you felt about the video.

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Here’s the video:

2. Identify Everday Mindset Examples

A fixed mindset and growth mindset don’t just show up in learning environments but everyday life too. Out of the several growth mindset activities out there, this one brings our attitudes to the forefront. How it does that is that we are looking at the behavior and presenting examples.

To do this activity, take several sheets of paper and an assortment of colored pens. If you’re doing this by yourself, then you could type these out.

After that, write down examples of how each mindset can be applied in everyday life. These can be phrases that each mindset uses, their opinions to subjects like challenges, failure, and roadblocks, how they handle adversity, and so on.

To do this activity properly, you will need to have a general description of both of these mindsets. It also pays to do this in a group as the idea is to write these out and then discuss why you think this way.

3. Take Action

One of the simplest growth mindset activities out there is to do it. Starting something new, whether it’s learning something or building a habit, is the toughest part. If you have a fixed mindset, there are good odds that you’re not eager to step out of that comfort zone.

If you want to develop a growth mindset, you’ll need to change your attitude and start doing more. This isn’t just focusing on stuff you’re passionate about. It’s also about exploring new passions. This means trying things you wouldn’t have thought of.

4. Self-Reflection

Similar to self-exploration, self-reflection is also important. Self-reflection is one of the growth mindset activities that looks at your external self rather than internal. It’ll focus on your skills that you’ve built and how you were able to develop them.

Regardless of the mindset you have right now, reflecting this way can piece together many things. For one, it helps us to realize that when we first started something, we weren’t good at it. And over time, we got used to it.

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A great example is the work that you’re doing today. Think back to your first day at work. What was it like? Did you show up being able to move through a routine and have a solid workflow for the entire day? Or did you have to experiment and figure out what you were good at and what you needed some guidance with?

When you take up a new skill, make sure to reflect on your progress too. Keep a record of your changes.

5. Research Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the study of our brain and how it adapts to the environments, actions and experiences we go through life.[2] What this research uncovered was the fact that how we thought of brains before was all wrong.

For a long time, we though our brain was a “non-renewable” organ. We never thought our brain could form other neurons on its own, let alone be able to grow and be shaped however we like.

What decades of research have uncovered is that, regardless of our age, we can grow and learn new things. After all, our brain contains many circuits and pathways.

What this means in simple terms is that, these pathways allow our brain to push us through a sequence of steps. The more we go through those steps, the more our brain builds up that pathway. It eventually forms a circuit that allows us to perform that task with more skill and speed than before.

Being aware of neuroplasticity and how it can impact our lives is key to our growth.

6. Actively Look for Opportunities to Learn

Better yet, to look for learning opportunities that you think you don’t fit in for. This can be within your own industry or outside of it.

Whatever the case is, taking up something you are hesitant towards can build you up. The biggest reason for that is it teaches you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It also teaches you about how your attitude matters.

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Again, someone with a fixed mindset would hesitate and give up when things get tough. Someone with a growth mindset will push forward in their own way.

By no means will learning a little about a subject or practicing a skill will make you a professional in that area. But it will bring you one step closer to being knowledgable and good in that area. That can be the confidence you need to do this more and apply it to your life.

7. Develop Grit

Grit is what defines your perseverance to meet the goals that you set. It’s the effort that you’ll put into your work and your willingness to overcome obstacles and keep moving.

Developing grit comes down to finding something that you are interested in or have a passion for and continue to improve it. Another way to see it is that through hard and necessary work, you can develop, improve, and succeed in that area over time.

To develop grit is to surround yourself with those who have grit as well. Find the people who stick to their goals and work closely with them. Being with those who show up every day will ensure you become like them in time.

Dr. Angela Duckworth’s book Grit is a good read to help you develop grit.

Final Thoughts

The list of growth mindset activities is abundant. Out of them all, there is no superior method to develop a growth mindset. The key is to find the methods that work best for you.

So adopt the attitude to experiment and see what you like. After all, trying these growth mindset activities will develop your mindset to begin with.

More to Train Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Eris Setiawan via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on February 11, 2020

8 Brain Exercises for Mental Strength and a Smarter Brain

8 Brain Exercises for Mental Strength and a Smarter Brain

Everyone says that we need to strive for a healthy body. These people are the people who say we should be going to the gym, exercise daily, and eat the right kind of food.

And while that advice is helpful, I feel a lot of people forget about another important part of ourselves: our brain.

Think about it.

When was the last time that you read a book?

Most are likely guilty of not having read a book in years. From 2004 to 2018, the number of people in America leisurely reading has dropped by 30%.[1]

We place so much priority on our bodies, and yet most of us don’t prioritize brain exercises or brain care. Why is that?

Fortunately, with brain exercises, we can reverse a lot of the damage that’s been done. Thanks to massive developments in neuroscience, we understand when our brain is at peak performance and what we can do to maintain it or bring it back to those levels.

Do Brain Exercises Really Work?

The short answer is yes.

First, there is all of Sherry Willis’ work. From her efforts, participants were able to do varying degrees of difficult tasks. Not only that but they were able to do so in an efficient manner than before.

There was also an extensive study that looked at the long-term effects of brain exercises on older individuals. The study provided brain exercises to 2,832 individuals aged 65 and up.[2]

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Over a 10 year period, participants were given training in processing speed, memory, and reasoning. Another smaller controlled group received no such training.

After that 10 year period, the researchers came back after 5 years to see results. While the training did help the older individuals during the 10 years of brain exercises, those benefits were gone after 5 years.

After 10 years of having the brain training, there were no signs of brain improvements.

What this study uncovers is that not only does the training work, but also it’s important to practice this regularly. Similar to our health, if we don’t train our bodies, it’ll deteriorate similar to our brain if we don’t exercise it.

Which Brain Exercises Are the Best?

According to research done in 1999, our brain reaches peak performance between age 16 and 25.[3] After that, our cognitive functioning – our ability to mentally process and carry out tasks – declines naturally. This doesn’t mean that we will be mentally incapable of working after a certain period of time though. Rather, our ability to change, process certain tasks, and introduce new processes will be tougher.

Understanding this is important since brain exercises are designed to keep the brain functional all around.[4] Examples are being able to do daily tasks, retaining memories, and keeping focus. This might not be a big issue right now but, it becomes more pressing when you get older and there are threats of dementia, amnesia, and Alzheimers — mental issues that could be stopped through regular exercise of our brains.

The question is, what sort of exercises are best for us?

Simple: personalized brain exercises.

Many people have tried all kinds of tactics to exercise their brains. And while there is research to support a variety of these claims, there’s more scientific support behind this particular form of training.

The strategy has been proven by Dr. Sherry Willis, a professor at the University of Texas. Through her research, she proved participants became more efficient at performing typical tasks at varying levels of complexity.[5]

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Participants were able to write shopping lists to being able to operate technical equipment with ease.

The big question now is where can you find these sorts of programs?

Since this research emerged, many businesses have been formed to help in this area. Training can be as simple as playing Sudoku to having full-fledged programs given out by various apps.[6]

8 Brain Exercises to Strengthen Your Brain

While having a personalized brain training course is great, not everyone is mentally prepared for them. Instead, people may find it better to strengthen their brains in other ways.

While these methods lack built-in long-term challenges or personalization, those can be mitigated. That is, if you want to start taking care of your brain as much as you want to look after the rest of your body.

1. Exercise

Studies from 2006 show that exercise has tremendous benefits on our brain. Specifically, exercising can protect our brain from shrinkage as it ages.[7]

While exercise may not be the most engaging or challenging brain exercise, this is one way to get the best of both worlds. Not only that, but you can add a layer of challenge by doing different exercises.

This helps because it teaches our brain to fire off new signals to our brain. This increases our brains plasticity – the ability to change and think differently. Thus doing new exercises will strengthen our brains.

2. Drawing Maps

A lot of us remember the streets we grew up like the back of our hands. We can navigate it with ease with no challenge.

But have you ever drawn it out before?

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One good challenge is to draw out the streets and what your neighbourhood looked like. Try to recall iconic landmarks and place them on the map as well.

Once you’re done with the map, find a real map and compare it with the one you drew. More often than not, you probably missed a few spots here and there. This happens because our brain doesn’t store that specific information for very long. Once we know where we want to go, our brain typically signals us to go a familiar route. We subconsciously comply and think nothing else of it.

Regardless, drawing a map can help us strengthen our brain and is a step above physical exercise since this demands more brainpower. I’d also encourage you to challenge yourself further and draw larger scale maps. Why not draw a map of the United State and write in all the state’s locations and capitals? Why not do the same with Canada?

3. Learning Something New

Barring personalized training, the best form of brain exercise stems from doing something different. Starting something new requires a lot of mental capacity.

Not only are you learning to do something new, but you also need to keep yourself motivated to continue doing it. Because of this, learning something new will keep us on our toes.

What’s also nice is that the activities don’t need to be really challenging. For example, one study had two groups and was asked to do different activities.[8] One group was asked to learn new skills like quilting or digital photography. The other was asked to watch movies or listen to the radio.

The study found that those quilting or doing digital photography had a better memory than those who had more leisure activities. They proved this by giving the individuals memory tests.

4. Socialize

When we get older, we tend to have a smaller circle of friends and thus, talk less and less. What’s saddening is the lack of social activity negatively impacts our mental health.

We’re obviously social creatures, so it should come to no surprise that being socially active is one way to exercise our brain. It also is one way of fighting back dementia and Alzheimer’s.[9]

Even if you are an introvert, seeking social interactions clearly has short-term and long-term benefits. Some ideas to be socially active is by joining clubs, going for daily walks with people, volunteering in your community, or staying in contact with your family or past friends.

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5. Doing a Jigsaw Puzzle

Big or small, research shows that this exercise recruits multiple cognitive abilities.[10]

6. Playing Card Games

Similarly, card games both online and offline can prove useful for your brain. One study in 2015 found that card games activate various parts of the brain.[11] Games included poker, crazy eights, solitaire, bridge, and gin rummy.

7. Learning a New Language

I mentioned earlier that learning something new is good but, it doesn’t always have to be a physical skill. Learning a new language activates many regions of our brain while also boosting cognition.[12]

8. Taking a New Route to a Familiar Destination

That or simply go down a different road. This doesn’t apply to driving or travelling but to any sort of problem that you deal with in life. By pushing yourself to think of other alternatives, your brain receives a number of benefits from making a simple change as these taxi drivers discovered.

Bottom Line

A lot of the reasons to consider brain exercises in our lives is similar to our health. As you can probably tell, these exercises do not take very long. They can be easily integrated into our daily lives.

Furthermore, brain exercises improve our focus, memory, and ability to complete daily activities. To stop doing brain exercises is to remove all of those benefits that can help us significantly as we get older.

So if you can’t get personalized brain training, consider the strategies I mentioned above. You’d be surprised how easy and how quickly you’ll notice changes in your life from this.

More to Sharpen Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Micael Sáez via unsplash.com

Reference

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