Article by Susan C. Foster
A mindset is a set of attitudes, says Carol Dweck, a world-renowned Stanford psychologist who discovered after years of research that dedication, hard work, and resilience are much more important to growth and success than brains or talent are. When you change your mindset to one of growth, you change the course of your life.
To improve your mindset, you can take these quick and easy steps every day:
1. Just Breathe (5 minutes)
Studies show that just a few minutes a day of quiet can open your brain and make it available for your most innovative ideas.
Sit or stand in a quiet spot, feet on the floor, and hands by your side or on your knees. Now just quiet your mind. Picture a place that is your idea of peace, such as a beach or a mountain. Just breathe, consciously and deeply from your belly. If your thoughts start to intrude (a project that is due today, a late bill, etc.), just notice, then go back to your picture. You don’t have to be a meditation expert to do this.
Five to 10 minutes of quiet, deep breathing during the day can also help you get back on track when stress levels get high and clear your mind to come up with a better solution to a challenge you’re facing.
2. Check Your Thoughts (5 minutes)
Have you ever gotten up in the morning when the weather is lousy and said, “This is going to be a bad day?” I have. More times than not, it guaranteed a day that finished the same way.
Our thoughts are powerful. They create feelings, which lead to the actions and behaviors that determine whether a day goes well. Learning that you can choose your thoughts is one of the most powerful things you can do to take charge of your life. Taking five minutes to make sure your thoughts are positive is a great way to start the day off with the right mindset.
3. Write Your ‘Grateful’ List (3 minutes)
Set the timer and write down five things you are grateful for every day. According to research from University of California, Davis, psychologist Robert Emmons, keeping a gratitude journal contributes to a positive life attitude and makes you feel better and sleep better. It can even strengthen your immune system!
Try for a different list each day, and at the end of the week you may be surprised how this helps your mindset.
4. Set Your Intention for the Day (5 minutes)
Before you leave in the morning, set an intention of how you want the day to end. How do you want the actions you accomplish today to make you feel at the end of the day? How do you want to feel about your relationships, and what can you do today to move them forward? It doesn’t have to be major. What is one thing you can do that will make you feel better at the end of the day?
5. Turn Off the Noise (2 minutes)
Just for today, find something else to listen to when you begin your day. Do your morning commute without listening to the news (it’s never positive), talking on the phone, or checking social media. Listen to your favorite music, a lecture you’ve recorded, or just what’s happening around you. There will be plenty of time to find out what’s going on in the world when you get to your destination. Do this for a week, and you will find yourself arriving at work with a calmer, more positive, and more relaxed mindset.
Best of all, you will discover you haven’t missed a thing.
That’s it: Just 20 minutes, and you are well on your way to a more positive mindset. Practice this for two weeks, and you will see a tremendous difference in your productivity and your attitude.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Susan C. Foster is a former executive and 24/7 workaholic who now coaches executives and careerists. She is a Master Coach, writer, and the author of It’s Not Rocket Science: Leading, Inspiring, and Motivating Your Team to Be Their Best.