One big concept in psychology right now is the “growth mindset.”
The basic idea behind the “growth mindset” is that we have the capacity to change and improve ourselves over time. This is in contrast to a “fixed mindset,” where we often believe that the way we are right now is the way we are always going to be – and there’s no hope to ever change that.
According to a fascinating new study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, even just one quick 30 minute lesson about “growth mindset” can help young teens with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The study first measured symptoms of anxiety and depression by having individuals take a self-reported survey (their parents were also asked to take a survey to assess these symptoms in their child as well). Only individuals who reported severe symptoms were accepted into the study.
Participants were then assigned to take a 30 minute computer session that taught them about new findings in psychology and the benefits of a “growth mindset.” This included research that our personalities are often much more malleable and subject to change than we think. It also also covered the idea of “neuroplasticity,” which explains that our brains are always building new neural connections based on new experiences.
The teens were then given examples of how a “growth mindset” could be applied to their daily lives. And older youths shared their personal experiences and how a “growth mindset” helped them deal with real world problems like embarrassment and rejection.
Researchers then did follow-ups with each participant after 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months to assess how much their symptoms of anxiety and depression had changed.
It was discovered that participants who took the one-time lesson about “growth mindset” reported less symptoms of anxiety and depression on all follow-ups. This shows that even just a quick 30 minute lesson about “growth mindset” can have a significant long-term impact on our mental health and well-being.
In the context of depression and anxiety (or any mental disorder), a “growth mindset” can be very important because it at least leaves us open to the possibility of change.
By being more open to the possibility of change, we are more likely to try new things and take advantage of new opportunities that we believe will help us or improve us in some way.
On the other hand, a “fixed mindset” would just lead you to give up and stay stuck in your old ways. You’ll think to yourself, “What’s the point of trying new things if I’m always going to be exactly the same?”
And that “fixed mindset” keeps feeding into itself – keeping you stuck in the same old patterns over and over again. This makes it impossible to change.
This study also shows how helpful it can be to learn more about psychology in general. The more we know about how our minds work, the better we understand ourselves, and the more we can use that information to better our lives.
Learning about concepts such as “growth mindset” and “neuroplasticity” are especially helpful because they teach us that we actually have some power over our lives and the type of people we can become.
This is a very important lesson for kids and teens, who may inhibit their education, growth, and development if they believe there is no hope for them to change their set ways.
For example, after learning about “growth mindset” the kids in the study were more likely to agree with statements such as:
- “I can be popular with kids my age if I really try.”
- “I can do well on tests if I really try hard.”
- “I can usually find something good to like, even in a bad situation.”
- “When I have a problem that I can’t change, I can take my mind off of it.”
These are all empowering beliefs to have that can motivate you to become a better person and take more control over your life, especially as a kid.
If we started teaching children these types of attitudes in schools, we could make a huge difference in the world by encouraging every child to reach their fullest potential.
Of course, a “growth mindset” is just as important in adults as well. Even when we get older, we continue to learn, grow, and evolve as human beings.
Self improvement is a never-ending process, and understanding that is essential to building a consistent “growth mindset.”
It’s amazing how just a one time 30 minute lesson can have such a long-term positive impact. But imagine how much more powerful it would be if you are reminding yourself of “growth mindset” on a daily basis.
How to Improve Your “Growth Mindset”
The whole concept of “changing yourself” is an overarching theme of this entire website. Almost every article published here implies that we have the ability to change ourselves in some way.
Here are a several specific articles that will greatly enhance your “growth mindset” and make it easier to think of yourself as a more dynamic and ever-changing person.
Check out these articles to boost your “growth mindset”:
- Do We All Have Multiple Selves? How to Build a More Dynamic You
This is a great article about how our concept of a “self” is often much more dynamic than we realize. And sometimes by embracing different aspects of ourselves, we can change our normal patterns and tendencies.
- The Power of Pretending You’re Someone Else: Stepping Outside of a Limited Self-Image
This a fantastic exercise to try if you want to experiment with different aspects of yourself. Often by temporarily pretending to be someone else, we can discover more about hidden aspects of ourselves.
- Cognitive Restructuring: The Complete Guide on How to Reframe Your Beliefs
This is a comprehensive article that describes how to change your beliefs and your attitude about life. It also focuses on how a “growth mindset” is something that we often need to actively work to build.
- Build a “Mental Toolbox” to Help You Navigate Through Rough Times
This article doesn’t focus on “growth mindset” exactly, but it does give a breakdown of the types of tools you can use to create self-change and make it easier to navigate the obstacles that will come your way when you’re on a path of self improvement.
Fact: We Change A Lot More Than We Think We Do
This study also reminded me of another study that I covered earlier this year, which discovered that people often underestimate how much their personalities will change over the course of a lifetime (between the ages of 14 and 77). This is a very relevant finding when it comes to accepting and embracing our “dynamic self.”
You can check out a video I made about it here:
This essential fact that we are always changing is key to developing a “growth mindset.” So the next time you feel like you’re completely stuck, make sure you remind yourself just how dynamic you really are as a human being.
Stay updated on new articles and resources in psychology and self improvement: