Did you know that altering even a single word in your personal narrative can have a massive change on your life?
Language can be that powerful. So too, can thoughts.
It sounds simple. It sounds too small to be impactful.
But if you’ve kept up with my writing for a little while now, you know how much I believe in consistent, small actions. That’s where true change comes from in just about any area of life.
And so of course I believe it to be true when it comes to shifting mindsets. It can come down to the difference between one single word you choose to use.
Here are four of my favorite, most powerful examples of how reframing your thoughts can open up your life in a beautiful way.
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1. Obligation vs Opportunity
I have to vs I get to.
When we stop viewing the world as an obligation and rather see everything as an opportunity, it becomes an unimaginably beautiful place. Even the most mundane details have the potential to inspire and fill you with awe and happiness at the world around you.
I have to cook dinner becomes I get to enjoy a delicious, nourishing meal.
I have to study becomes I get to learn and challenge my mind.
I have to go to work every day becomes I get the opportunity to advance my career and therefore my options in life.
You might think it sounds corny, overly optimistic, or annoyingly positive.
But try shifting the words you use, even just for a single day. Catch yourself every single time you notice yourself say or think the words “I have to.” Practice reframing it to “I get to.” Watch how that single word opens up your perspective and makes you think about what’s truly important in life.
2. Confined vs Liberated
A paralyzed man was once asked if it was difficult living life confined to a wheelchair. He replied, “I am not confined to it. I am liberated by it.” Without it, he would be subject to living life stuck in bed, without the ability to ever leave his home again.
We shouldn’t wait for extreme things to happen to us before we recognize what we take for granted. Before we realize that our minds keep us confined more than anything else — not unsurmountable limitations.
Like everything mindset related, it comes down to what you choose to focus on — limitations, or possibilities.
3. Goal Oriented vs Process Oriented
Focusing too much on “end goals” is misleading. It puts conditions on our happiness or fulfillment.
I will love my body once I lose 10 pounds.
I’ll be satisfied with my performance at work once I make it to the manager level.
I’ll be successful once I’m married with kids, living in a nice home.
Then what? What happens when you arrive at the goal, but don’t feel the long lasting satisfaction you hoped you would? You start to feel bad about yourself because you should feel happier or more fulfilled than you really do. Or, you get bored now that you reached your goal and don’t know what to do next.
I’m not against setting goals. They serve a valuable purpose, but I think being more process oriented helps you live in the present while moving towards outcomes you like.
It also teaches you that outcomes are a snapshot in time, not a final destination. Treating them as the latter is setting you up for disappointment.
Being process oriented also helps keep us going when we feel uncertain or unmotivated. We know that even if we can’t see the future, we trust in focusing on consistent action, day in and day out.
4. Reaction vs Action
Have you ever felt like life is just happening to you?
Time flies and you don’t feel in control of it. Sure, you enjoy time spent with friends and family, the yearly celebratory milestones, and the occasional time off from work. But you simultaneously feel trapped in a cycle of time passing you by, reacting to what life throws at you.
A mindset shift from reaction to action helps you break the cycle. Rather than letting life happen to you, have the courage to list out and define what’s truly important to you.
Block out the noise. What you think you should do doesn’t matter. What do you want? For a moment, let yourself forget the fear of what others will say or what will happen to the predictable, comfortable nature of your life if you let yourself answer honestly.
Chances are you know deep down. You’re afraid, or you think it can’t happen. Well, whatever it is you want out of life, start thinking of what actions are in your control to move slowly towards it. Action builds upon itself and slowly, you start to build momentum and confidence.
I’ve wanted to start a blog for years. But I never sat down and just did it.
I kept reacting to life and as a result, never made time to write. The second I decided to take action, no matter how lost or misguided I felt, that’s when I started to feel my life open up a little.
The writing is only part of it. The decision to take action is really the powerful mindset shift in all of this. Momentum has built in other areas of my life as well. And it feels really, really good.
What are some of the most powerful mindset shifts you’ve experienced in your life and why?
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