The state of one’s mindset has a vital role in their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. The perks and benefits of a healthy mindset can never be overstressed. As one who has benefited immensely from growing a healthy mindset, I’ve written this piece, which is part of my series ‘Mental Tools For Higher Achievement, A Happy Life, And A Calm And Concentrated State Of Mind’ to be of great value to you as well.
Besides being an entrepreneur, who has been in digital marketing for the past 30 years, I have also trained and coached more than 20,000 top executives to reach higher levels of performance, joy, and happiness for more than 15 years with my coaching side-business.
I’m a Secular Buddhist and life coach for high achievers and entrepreneurs. I keenly follow the latest achievements in Neurobiology and psychological research, letting this wisdom and knowledge flow into my work. My extensive experience has afforded me a deep understanding of what it takes to achieve a successful business and overall self-improvement that covers every aspect of our lives. You can achieve everything that you need in life while enjoying a healthy mindset.
Not many people understand what it is to have a healthy or positive mindset, as it doesn’t have a definite meaning; however, the term is not foreign to most of us. For many of us who seek a rapid advancement in personal growth and healthy living, the knowledge that our state of mind is essential to our personal development and mental health is all we need for our interests, especially as entrepreneurs, to be piqued.
How To Develop A Healthy Mindset
1. Understand That You Are Not Your Thoughts
Thoughts in your brain are created when outside influences form the mind. They are random and result from past experiences, especially clouded childhood experiences. For instance, as a child, someone told you that you could never amount to much. You allow these words to linger in your mind, accepting and believing there’s something wrong with you, whereas it’s not true. These words were not yours but from someone else, but you let them take form in your mind, thereby influencing your thoughts and even making it your identity.
Instead of mentally trapping yourself with negative self-talk and becoming engulfed in negative thoughts, detach yourself from those thoughts and the influences it holds over your decisions. You can do this by observing your thoughts without judging them. Watch your negative thoughts drift as if they are a passing cloud, and know that they have no weight.
Engage in mindful exercises and practice meditation. Meditation is essential for us as it helps reduce rumination. This is because meditation involves clearing your mind to arrive at an emotionally calm state. It enables you to separate your thoughts from your identity.
It is vital to know how your ego impacts your decisions. Although your ego helps you identify your uniqueness, it can also negatively influence you. Doing ‘mental hygiene’ will get rid of negative thoughts which are produced by your ego.
2. Understand your Neurobiology
Understanding the hormones and chemical messengers that regulate our emotions and deal with stress is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many mental states are generated by neurochemicals in our brain and depend on other factors, like healthy foods or unhealthy food choices, physical health, overall lifestyle and environmental influences. The more you learn about how your brain works, the better you understand the workings of your mind from a biological perspective.
Here are some of the most important neurotransmitters that play significant roles in maintaining a generally positive mindset.
Dopamine – the joy of finding what you seek – is the neurotransmitter of anticipation to reward and pleasure, thriving, craving, and motivation. When you achieve a goal, your brain is rewarded with a spike of dopamine. You crave the feeling so much that even when you are yet to achieve it, the anticipation is enough to keep you going. Unfortunately, this most often works to our detriment. When a goal is not achieved, we wallow in disappointment and an intense craving for more ‘feel good’ feelings.
Dopamine motivates you to get what you need, even when it takes a lot of effort.
Dopamine lets you thrive for creative achievements in life and business, but also for too much (unhealthy) food intake or drug abuse. Dopamine by itself is not good or bad. The most important question is: Whom do you feed? The angel or the demon?
“Good” (helpful) dopamine activities and habits are (Angel):
- Celebrate small victories, the feeling of achievement raises your dopamine and motivates you to persist
- Turn your dreams into reality – take action and take small steps toward your dream
- Learn new things, celebrate learning and personal development
- Meditate (raises your dopamine level more than 80%)
- Exercise and listen to music that you love regularly
- Do intermittent fasting
Here are some poor (harmful) activities (demon) that have a significant impact on your dopamine levels and will destroy your happiness over time if done regularly:
- Eating processed food; especially those high in Sugar, Salt, and Fats
- Social Media
- And finally, any substance that gives a quick and sudden rush of dopamine like Alcohol, Nicotine, Cocaine, and Amphetamines.
Serotonin releases a good feeling when being respected by others – it’s the molecule of security of social importance. You become confident, have high self-esteem, and feel stronger when you’re under the influence of serotonin. It raises your status and self-esteem. According to the British American author, Simon Sinek, Serotonin can also be known as the leadership chemical; it encourages us to get public recognition and feel important and valuable in a group.
Oxytocin – the molecule of the comfort of social alliances – produces the feeling of being safe with others—or bonding. It motivates you to trust others and to find safety in companionship.
Endorphins produce oblivion that masks pain and generates a feeling of euphoria. It motivates you to ignore pain, so you can escape from harm when you’re injured.
Or, as it is otherwise called, Noradrenaline, is from the same family as dopamine and adrenaline. This neurotransmitter increases attention and encourages focus in the course of their daily lives. It also responds to stressful situations and exercises, working to place the brain in sync with the body in flight or fight situations and giving you laser-focus and narrowing down your vision to specific tasks.
Acetylcholine is a fast-acting neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in brain and muscle function. It can be found in many brain neurons and is involved in mental processes such as memory, cognition, attention, and neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. The brain constantly builds new neurons from birth and makes incredible new connections as we grow. As children, our environment stimulates our brains and reinforces certain connections. For example, when a child learns to draw, the brain neurons responsible for fine motor control develop synapses. As this skill is practiced, the neural motors responsible for it become denser and reinforced. However, as the child gets older, the neural connections eliminate any skill that is not used. The brain continues to develop and rewire itself throughout life, and new experiences can change the brain’s structure at any age.
In the brain, acetylcholine influences synaptic transmissions that cause synaptic plasticity, thereby changing the state of the neural networks and modifying their responses to internal and external factors.
3. Take Care To Maintain A Healthy Brain-Biology
Latest neuroscience teaches us that every time we gain pleasure, a price is exacted, and the pain that follows is longer lasting and more intense than the pleasure that gave rise to it. With repeated exposure to the same or similar pleasure stimulus, the initial deviation to the side of pleasure gets weaker and shorter, and the after-response to the side of pain gets stronger and lasts longer. In short, the more you engage in pleasurable experiences, the more pain (craving) you feel and the less pleasure you feel from these activities, a process scientists call Neuroadaptation.
According to Anna Lembke, professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, “pleasure and pain work like a balance, wanting to remain level, that is, in equilibrium. It does not want to be tipped for very long to one side or another.”
Here are some ways to avoid the process of Neuroadaptation.
- Don’t engage in activities regularly as you develop habits and activation cues.
- Perform dopamine/pleasure fasting regularly for at least 30 days.
- Never engage in high dopamine spiking substances like cocaine; they alter your brain forever.
- And yes, alcohol is your enemy. Avoid it!
There is no way you can have a healthy mindset in a sick brain. You need to diligently practice self-love and self-care, not just for a healthy body but also for a healthy brain.
4. Develop Compassion For Yourself And For Others
A fundamental belief in Buddhism is that the road to happiness is the development of inner peace and compassion through reflection and the training of one’s mind. One way to cultivate this is through the ancient practice of Compassion Meditation.
What is Compassion/Lovingkindness Meditation?
Compassion meditation is a technique we can use to dissolve self-centeredness and isolation while cultivating compassion by realizing that we are not alone in our experience of suffering. Deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy, Compassion Meditation guides participants toward compassionate thoughts.
According to Penelope Green, writer for Oprah.com, “Compassion meditation involves silently repeating certain affirmations that express the intention to move from judgment to caring, from isolation to connection and from indifference or dislike to understanding.”
For your meditation, you should always begin with yourself because compassion for others begins with kindness to yourself:
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be at peace.
Now that you have received Loving-Kindness yourself, you can imagine an important person in your life and extend these warm wishes toward a friend or loved one:
May you be happy.
May you be safe.
May you be healthy.
May you be at peace.
Extend the meditation and send your warm compassionate wishes to a neutral person, a difficult person and end it with sending compassion to all living beings on the planet.
Current research suggests that Compassion based meditation practices can lead to mood improvements, stress reduction, better relationships, and perhaps most obviously, increased empathy and compassion.
It also releases Oxytocin and puts a brake on the “never-enough” attitude of (the dopamine-driven) compulsive behavior or substance abuse.
It is a great method for connecting with healing and for awakening the compassion inherent in all of us.
5. Forgive Yourself (Let Go Of The Past)
Self -Forgiveness is essential for freeing yourself from the damaging effects of negative emotions, such as guilt, grief, and shame. Our tendency to hold onto past mistakes only results in damning consequences for our loved ones, leaving us stuck in the past. Self-unforgiveness creates an inability to focus on the present and look to the future, affecting our well-being and overall productivity.
Accept that what’s done is in the past and acknowledge that it’s only human to make mistakes; you’ll find that the freedom that comes with forgiving yourself will feel entirely like a miracle.
Start your day with a daily forgiveness exercise and free yourself from past mistakes, dramas, and catastrophes.
6. Develop Focus and Concentration
There is a lot of money to make in distracting you with social media, Netflix, buying new junk (which you don’t need), and all other ideas that businesses have found to make money with our attention. Your attention is precious as it helps you achieve what you need and want in your life.
Control your focus and attention and use it to achieve results that make YOU happy (do not just use it to line the pockets of corporate bank accounts). If you want to achieve more in life, you need to learn to focus and concentrate.
7. Put in the Right Effort!
Stay clear-headed and focused. Do your homework by planning effective strategies. For instance, if you are starting in business, make time out of whatever busy schedules you might have to get your hands on everything that can polish your level of business intelligence. This way, when you meet potential investors, they know you are worth it.
The world is really in need of value. When you can bring forth value, you become needed. “Need” turns you into a powerful person. Once a service is necessary, it attracts others who need their products or services effortlessly. Your efforts begin to pay off, increasing your self-esteem, but first of all, you need to put in the effort so that you can succeed every day.
8. Let Go Of Any Goals
Goal-setting tends to keep our minds fixated on the outcome, which is an entirely unhealthy way to make any tangible achievement in life. When you set goals and then fail to accomplish them repeatedly, and for a long time, you fail to concentrate on the input and the hard work required. Which truthfully is the essential part of achieving anything.
What you should do instead is give yourself entirely to the work and its process, but let go of the outcome, at least till the very end.
9. Forget Being Perfect (You Already Are)
That’s right; you are indeed perfect. You are a human being with an infinite amount of potential, and you are where you need to be on your journey. Stop self-criticism and punishments. You gain nothing by constantly criticizing yourself. Instead, know your strengths and your worth. Gain experience by giving yourself the time and space to learn and grow.
That way, more time and energy are put into more rewarding and productive endeavors and less on being perfect.
10. Develop An Ethical Framework and Live a Virtuous Life
Ethics provide a set of standards for behavior that helps us decide how we ought to act in various situations. In a sense, we can say that ethics is all about making choices and providing reasons for making these choices.
Think of ethical frameworks as the skeleton that supports our bodies and gives it rigidity. The framework is the skeleton, and your body represents your life. Here are a few ethical standards that I follow to provide support and rigidity in my life:
- Understand that my life is not my job, marriage, house, or car. It’s way more than every external thing we focus on.
- “Life” is what nature has given us. Our precious body, for instance, is such a wonderful bio-machine, billions of cells, bacterias, fungi, molecules, and other organisms that work together seamlessly to ensure that we experience life as humans.
- What we have in our minds often tends to manifest. The high-quality experiences that exist in life result from a high-quality mind. The only purpose of life is life itself and the nurturing of a healthy body and mind. Anything society, clients, family, or others demand from me that damages my body or mind also damages my life itself. And since “life” is the most precious thing I have, I decline all these demands.
- I follow the Eight-fold noble path that the Buddha describes as the path of liberation from human suffering. The Eight-fold Path consists of eight practices: Right view, Right resolve, Right speech, Right conduct, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, and Right concentration.
- Another important belief that I included in my ethical framework is that I dedicate my human potential to serve others, including not harming others (and myself). To serve others, you need to start with yourself.
- Let go of resentment, grief, anger, and other emotional states that negatively affect your environment.
Align your life to these ideals and values, and don’t engage in activities that don’t meet your ethical standards. If everyone followed this advice, there would only be happiness and peace.
Remember that a healthy mindset can only be acquired through a healthy body and environment, which is the who and the what surrounding you. Make sure always to keep them in check while still spreading positivity and a desire for mental growth. By applying these tips, you are undoubtedly on your way to wellness and developing the healthy mindset you need for a fulfilling and productive, healthy life.