Like the bears in the wintery climate where I live, I’m hibernating.
For fun facts about what happens in the den, check out the Bearsmart Blog to learn six interesting things bears do in the den. Can’t say any of them represent how I expect my next few months to go, so I guess one can stretch an analogy only so far!
For me, my energy will be directed to my inner world…and so you won’t be hearing from me for a while. I need to stop for a reset because I’m swimming in ideas and information, having had an intensive few weeks of engaging in several conferences—online of course—with two more to come.
Now I need some mental space to metabolize, integrate and synthesize all of it to shape where my life will go from here. In the meantime, here are some favourite posts you might like to revisit or enjoy for the first time.
Right before our eyes, the world has become a wonky place. Unpredictable and unthinkable events have occured. Things we thought were firm and stable aren’t.
And we don’t like it!
Living in uncertainty is hard. It requires us to be flexible, lest we snap under the pressure. Yet the systems of Western culture do nothing to cultivate our inherent flexibility and resilience. Indeed, materialism, competition, and our cultural notion of success all reward a rigid approach to living. And we’ve become so used to living this way that we often don’t realize it’s a cultural meme and not an immutable fact of life.
We have two choices…
In uncertain times, we can cling tighter and push harder in hopes of getting things back to the way they were. Or we can change our mindset about how things are meant to work, what is possible, and what’s to be expected in the new circumstances in which we find ourselves through no choice of our own.
As my Tasmanian friend Gill so aptly put it, we have to wobble with the world. She should know. Gill has lived through plenty of wobbles including a broken neck and open heart surgery. Yet she is still here, after 84 years, with an inspiring curiosity and zest for learning and growing. I think it’s fair to say that Gill’s mindset is what made it possible for her to wobble with her world while it lurched along through her share of adverse events.
Times of change, such as what we are experiencing in 2020, call for resilience. Some of us seem to have it, many do not. How does that happen? How is it that some people are able to wobble with the world and others are not?
It depends on your mindset…
Mindset is a lens or frame of mind that orients us to a particular set of associations and expectations. We adopt mindsets to filter and organize the flood of information that could be overwhelming. The mindset we choose automatically excludes a lot of what comes at us every day, simplifying what we take into consideration and thus making our lives more manageable.
Carol Dwek is a leading researcher in personality and social psychology. Her best-selling book, Mindset, describes two types—a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. As you might imagine from the name, a fixed mindset is the one that makes it difficult for a person to cope when confronted with change and uncertainty. This video illustrates fixed and growth mindsets as identified by Carol Dweck,,,
Simply put, a fixed mindset leads to failure and lack of confidence, whereas a growth mindset is the basis of success in the broad sense—not just about money, possessions, and achieving goals but also feelings of happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
How to shift your mindset…
The video you just saw ends with general thoughts about changing your mindset. For a more practical discussion, I’d like to introduce Stanford professor, athlete and psychologist, Alia Crum. Director of the Mind & Body Lab at Stanford University, Dr. Crum has done groundbreaking research demonstrating that our mindset determines how our body responds to physical activity, food intake, and stress. Her aim is to understand how mindsets can be consciously and deliberately changed.
Below is a full-length presentation she made to the Gladstone Institutes, an independent biomedical research institution. Dr. Crum described how a person’s mindset is directly linked to their stress, and encouraged the Gladstone community to explore how stress impacts their work and personal life. In her practical way, she ended the presentation with explicit steps we can apply to change our mindset.
If you only have time to dip in and out of Dr Crum’s presentation, here are some highlights:
Two fundamentally flawed assumptions about stress 7:15
Nonsense takes us beyond the limitations of logic, into the quantum world where all is possible. It activates a part of us that is not always respected in our modern-day left-brain culture. Oftentimes, this disparagement of the nonsensical is to our detriment.
These times are too serious to lose our sense of humour.
So…it’s a good idea to have some strategies and tools to keep ourselves laughing. And especially so for those of us in the northern hemisphere where days are getting shorter and colder as winter closes in.
Why laugh when life isn’t funny?
Good question. Why would anyone want to laugh—when life continues to fall apart around us in the midst of a pandemic and colder weather is keeping us indoors even more? Here’s what Norman Cousins said many years ago…
This is my concluding post on empathy. It’s a subject that has been on my mind a lot as I keep seeing how desperately we need more empathy in this world—and as I’ve become aware that there is room for increasing it in myself.
Last week we heard Simon Sinek speak about empathy in the workplace, and how empathetic leadership is essential for workers to thrive.
Empathy is also related to business in another way—through the output of business, the products and services we buy. The satisfaction we derive from these products and services is greater when the designers put themselves in our shoes before production begins.
That is a common definition of empathy—walking in someone else’s shoes, seeing through their eyes—more formally referred to as perspective-taking.
Experiencing a pandemic has got many of us reflecting on what is working in our world and what isn’t. In essence, it has shone a spotlight on our dysfunctions.
Much of what is wrong (or right) with our systems starts with our collective mindset.
A mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notions held by a person or group. It’s a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how we interpret and respond to situations individually and collectively. We become so used to our mindsets that we don’t see that our thinking is fixed in this particular way. To us it’s normal.
If you observe behaviours of yourself and others around you, it’s not difficult to identify mindsets. Here are a few examples of what you might discover…
Sufficiency mindset—There is enough, and I am enough.
Growth mindset—Life is about expanding awareness and continual learning.
Thrift mindset—It’s my responsibility to use resources, both mine and the planet’s, wisely.
Sustainability mindset—What I do must contribute to life carrying on, now and in the future.
Back to school. A different proposition in this first year of pandemic adjustments. Wearing masks. Different protocols for routines such as recess and lunch. Or maybe learning at home instead.
However it happens, there is general agreement that education is important. And most of us accept that the way we do education is the way it should be done. But not everyone agrees. Sir Ken Robinson, for one.
Living through a pandemic is challenging us all, in one way or another, especially in the days of lockdown when there were very few acceptable reasons for leaving our homes. In the midst of that, many were chafing at their loss of freedom even when they knew there were good reasons for this strategy. And even now, when we have more licence to be out and about, it’s a challenge to adapt to ongoing requirements for wearing masks and distancing.