For this month’s collaborative article, I’ve asked the Skilled Helpers Collaborative to share their perspectives on the topic Mindset. What comes to your mind, when thinking of this? Find out what our skilled helpers have to say…
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative is an initiative aiming to bring meaningful content to you. Various skilled helpers from different backgrounds sharing their perspectives regarding a specific topic. They don’t get to read each other’s contribution before publication and thus don’t influence each other to make sure, you as a reader can enjoy a variety of insights.
Being human doesn’t always seem to be easy. The brain we developed, enabled us to become aware of ourselves as a species, as an individual and also the environment we live in. According to many philosophers, psychologist and other great minds throughout history, and even those of today, if we will thrive depends on our mindsets.
“We can do anything we set our mind to.”
Throughout the years, I started to wonder; if that is true, why are so many Beautiful Souls having such difficulties to thrive, to feel happy, to even want to live? Is it a matter of the brain or the heart? Do we always get to choose how we set our mind?
Personally, I experienced that your environment and the circle of humans you grow up in can influence you to such an extent, you start to question everything around you and about yourself. All that knowledge, information, perspectives from others can lead you away from your own core and the unique purpose one is here for on this beautiful planet.
Even though research shows we don’t use the full capacity of our brain, I do not believe we can ‘do anything we set our mind to’. Yes, we are never done learning and we for sure can learn a lot. At the same time, each of us has not only strengths but also limitations.
What we are capable of though, is figuring out how to balance our mind and heart. We can choose to work with our personal barriers and how to respond to obstacles. Learn to embrace contentment or to challenge ourselves. That will help us thrive throughout our lifetime by using the best unique mindset for our individual Beautiful Souls.
We hope you enjoy this month’s collaborative article!
Patty WoltersSkilled Helper
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
by Sujit Gogoi
Difficulties and challenges in the past forced me to wonder, what will be that way that would help me to come out of the situation that I was in to where I wanted to be. I used to listen to videos, read self-help books, talk to people so that I keep myself motivated. It helps sometimes but again, the motivation doesn’t last for long. My thoughts seemed to shrink back to my old pattern of thinking or behaving while I was away from it. I can forgive myself now by saying that I was too young at that time or just starting to understand myself. But now I realise that everything that we think or do has to do a lot with our mind.
Unless we go deep into knowing what our mind holds within and understanding its impact, we never know whether it is working for our good or otherwise. We can only know what is in our mind by observing our behaviours, actions and results.
So how does our mind work? How does the information get into our minds? From the day we were born, we experience, we observe, we listen and we learn. As we learn, we condition or program our mind. And as per how we condition it, we perceive the world and act upon it. But how can we know whether what we are feeding into our mind is based on truth, beneficial or destructive? If it is not based on truth, then is it worth it? So the question arises, what kind of mindset is beneficial? Whether it needs to be open for growth or closed and fixed? Now, before we go into what mindset we need to have, it is crucial to understand how both this kind of mindset works? Closed or fixed mindset never desires for anything new.
It compels one to think what he/she learned is the ultimate truth. And if anybody tries to challenge it, he/she feels threatened. Having different perspectives is not an option. Whereas the growth mindset seems to be more open. Open to change for better, open to look from different perspectives, open to explore and learn different new things, and has a room for uncertainty.
As we can see, nobody would love to keep their mind closed and limited. Well, I haven’t found any person of that kind yet. Everybody seeks growth whether they are aware of it or not. Aren’t they? But what compels some people to make it fixed? Is it the past experiences, failures or disappointments? If our behaviour and actions depend a lot on our mindset, then aren’t we limiting our actions by limiting our mind? And if we are functioning in this world with the help of our actions, then aren’t we also limiting our experiences of life by just limiting our actions? We love to be certain, because we crave security and comfort. But by seeking comfort and certainty, aren’t we reliving the same life over and over again?
Some of us might be saying that the mind is very difficult to keep under control. The question arises, don’t we have the responsibility to prepare our mind in such a way that we can control it or in other words, assist us in creating a life that we desire? Aren’t we here on this earth for that? Or did we come here to play a victim role? Ponder upon all these if you may like.
Creating the life that we want to live is possible but it requires a great deal of courage, a sense of responsibility and desire for growth. But that’s only when our mind allows us to do so. That’s what I have learned from my own experiences. And as far as I know, getting our mindset right might not happen overnight. It also needs some patience, perseverance and some little self-love.
Connect with Sujit Gogoi, Career Clarity Coach @ The Impactverse Coaching
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
Changing Your Mindset to Suit Today’s Climate Change
by Kally Tay
Our minds are mighty because one thought or idea can easily change how we perceive concepts or do things and how we see ourselves. Our surroundings or the current climate can also affect how our minds think, which can be detrimental if you want to improve on something or achieve a goal.
But, with the current climate filled with news like COVID-19, shootings, political unrest and so on, how can you change your mindset to be a more positive one?
Here are some tips on how you can effectively change your mindset to suit today’s climate:
1. Know what your purpose is
Every person has their own goals and purpose that they want to focus on in life. Do you want to achieve a particular position? Do you want to help out in your community?
Ask yourself what you want to do in life, and once you are sure, you can redirect your focus to that purpose. If you don’t know what your goal is yet, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. You can also explore your skills and see what you can do or learn to achieve a purpose you think is for you.
2. Know your vision
You can’t just focus on identifying your purpose if you want to change your mindset. You must also have a clear vision of what you have to do to achieve your goal. You can create a vision by developing a roadmap that you can follow.
3. Overcome negativity
There will be many challenges that will come along your way as you try to improve on yourself, some coming from the people around you. The best way to overcome this negativity and stress is by ignoring them and focusing on the things you are doing. If you believe in yourself and manage your stress well, you will be able to deal with these problems and overcome them.
4. Stay with a positive crowd
Negativity is contagious, so is positivity which is why you should be with people who have a positive mindset and can help your confidence be better. They will be able to inspire you and show you opportunities you haven’t explored yet. Once you know that there are people who will listen and believe in you, it can boost your mindset.
5. Don’t envy people, be inspired by them
When you listen to the speeches or stories of successful people, there may be a tendency that you will get jealous of what they have achieved. But, you should stop for a moment and stop feeling jealous about these people. Use their stories to serve as an inspiration on how you can also achieve your goals, especially if they are in the same field. Having someone to aspire to can give your mindset a push and encourage you to push forward.
6. Don’t be afraid to fail
Your mindset won’t be in a good state if you only focus on success. Failure allows us to learn and improve on ourselves and our actions. It is also a typical experience that people will experience at some point. By recognizing that we aren’t perfect and making a mistake, you will be able to look into what happened more closely and improve from it.
7. Don’t linger in the past
Our past experiences are a big part of our development, and it is not something you can easily forget. But, if you do have some lingering regrets or focus on things in the past that you can’t let go of, you are only disabling yourself from moving forward. Instead of lingering on these events, use them as a reminder that you can improve and do better. As you move away from the past, you will see the opportunities that were already around you and can help you leave the past behind.
8. Always be open to feedback
If you want to change your mindset but don’t know where you need to start, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from the people around you. It could be from your family, friends or coworkers, who can tell you if you are doing something right or wrong and how to improve on it. Don’t immediately shrug them off because they are only trying to help you. Feedback can also help you determine whether you are moving in the right direction or you need to pull back and rethink your strategy.
9. Have a plan B ready
Plans help us get on track and keep our day organized. But, there will be instances you go astray from your goals because of an unforeseen event that you have no control of, such as sudden changes to your schedule or personal matters. You may also end up having to skip your plan because one aspect of it won’t work. With this said, having a plan B or a backup plan can save you a lot of time. It also will give you some peace of mind because you know you can fall back to your second plan if the first plan doesn’t work.
10. Focus on your happiness
Finally, no matter what is going on around us, it is always important to focus on staying happy and being happy. However, we shouldn’t just focus on short-term happiness but also focus on long-term satisfaction. If we don’t focus on long-term happiness, our mindset will be stuck to the short-lived joy that will quickly fade away.
Changing our mindset is not easy, especially if you find it hard to let go of certain events and things that are keeping you down. But, if you take time to see what is around you and take the initiative to change, it will make a difference. Remember, you are powerful, and you can do anything you set your mind to if you take the initiative to move towards that goal. With these tips, you can make that first step into reasserting positivity in your life and help your mindset focus on the goals that will make you and the people you love happy. Good luck.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
Mindset – Our map of the world
by Sukeshi Pandit Malhotra
What is a mindset?
The dictionary defines mindset as ‘the established set of attitudes held by someone’ or ‘a person’s way of thinking and their opinions’. These attitudes and thinking patterns translate into actions and behaviors, which in turn make us “who we are”.
Our mindset is our personal ‘map of the world’…how we see the world, how we ‘construct meaning’ – interpreting, understanding, valuing, thinking, evaluating, feeling to create our sense of reality. The creation of these ‘inner meanings’ starts inside our mind-body complex, in early childhood – using our entire body, physiology and neurology to process information and create meanings, as we learn to navigate around relationships, develop our ‘sense of self’ and figure out ‘our place’ in the world. Each time we encounter any new experience, we associate it with ‘pain or pleasure’, ‘safety or danger’, ‘approach or avoidance’, based on how it affects us physiologically as well as psychologically, and we make it a reference point; give it a ‘meaning’ and develop ‘frames of reference’ around it.
In his book ‘Unleashed’, Michael Hall, Ph.D., a leading authority in neuro-semantics and meta coaching says, “Once we live with something as a frame of reference, it becomes our perspective, the frame that filters the way we see the world, just as our glasses frame and filter things.” The ‘frames of reference’ that we develop in this early period lay down the foundation stones of our ‘mindset’ or belief systems. And the quality of our life depends on the quality of our ‘meaning making or framing’ – the thought, image, memory, movie, story, metaphor that we associate with ‘words’ and hold in the theatre of our mind.
By the time we enter adulthood, we are ready with this 3D technicolor Matrix or ‘Construct’ in our mind which dictates how we see ourself, our potential, our capabilities, our prospects and our relationship with the world around us.
But is our inner ‘Construct’ set in stone, like it was once believed or do we have the power to alter it? Studies in the field of neuroscience and psychology have clearly proven that ‘neuroplasticity’ is a real deal and it allows our brain/mind to transform, evolve, grow and modify. Then what exactly prevents us from breaking out of these self-constructed prisons?
Roadblocks to changing the ‘Mindset’
Considering that ‘will power’ belongs to the 10% conscious mind we have control over, and ‘habits and conditioning’ belong to the 90% unconscious mind we do not have control over, it is no surprise that bringing about a change in mindset can be an uphill task. From my personal experience of bringing about change in my own life and while working with clients, some of the most common factors which hold us back from embracing transformation are:
- Lack of self-awareness – The single most, biggest factor in staying stuck in a negative mindset; a firm belief that how I think is the ‘only’ way or the ‘right’ way; being completely unaware that the source of our misery could be our own though processes; don’t see any need for change.
- Lack of flexibility – Sometimes people are aware that their habitual thought patterns are not conducive to growth, but they believe they are incapable of changing them; that they are born with this and will have to live with it.
- Clinging to victim mindset – Consider self to be a victim of other’s actions; belief that ‘all my problems are someone else’s fault; poor me…the world and circumstances are always working against me
- Self-fulfilling nature of ‘self-concept’ – In his book, ‘Self-Image Psychology’, Maxwell Maltz, talks about ‘self-image’ being the foundation stone of our whole personality; where-in our experiences seem to verify our beliefs (negative or positive) about ourselves, thereby strengthening our self-image and creating a vicious cycle; we reject any ideas that seem in-consistent with the ‘self-image’ we carry so breaking out of the any negative belief cycles seems impossible
- Viewing ‘inner critic’ and other ‘saboteurs’ as saviors – Shirzad Chamin in his work on positive intelligence talks about how the inner judge and other saboteurs born as a natural ally in our childhood, (to help us survive and navigate that vulnerable stage of our life), become deeply entrenched in our minds convincing us that they are useful for our survival and success, way past their sell by date; even as secure adults we refuse to let go of those critics
- Fear of stepping outside the comfort zone – Given a choice, most people to not like treading outside their comfort zone – fear of failure, fear of rejection, being vulnerable, being judged – so many reasons not to venture outside that safety net
All these negative beliefs and other cognitive distortions need to be challenged, replacing them or reframing them with productive outcome-oriented beliefs, so the ‘meaning making framework’ of the unconscious mind can be dismantled and new ‘meaning’ created at the conscious level.
Creating a ‘Productive Mindset’
“Perception is awareness shaped by belief. Belief’s “control” perception. Rewrite beliefs and you rewrite perception. Rewrite perception and you rewrite genes and behavior…I am free to change how I respond to the world, so as I change the way I see the world, I change my genetic expression.” Bruce Lipton Ph.D., cellular biologist.
To reprogram our inner ‘meaning making’ mechanism we need to bring in greater awareness in our everyday life, and stop living on auto pilot. Some of the qualities we can inculcate to live more mindfully and consciously are:
- Ownership – Taking complete ownership for your life, its success and failures are all mine
- Awareness – Awareness of my thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors, speech – why I do what I do? What I need to change?
- Self-Acceptance – Accepting my strengths, weaknesses, limitations, capabilities, and how I can work with them to make the best of them
- Clarity – Knowing what I want from life, my vision and purpose
- Responsibility – How can I respond to the challenges I face, to turn them to advantages
- Willingness to fail – View failure as a milestone; build inner resilience
- Positive Attitude – Embracing my humanity, fallibility and darker emotions; letting go of guilt and shame
- Creating Flow – Finding that balance between challenge and competency to be our productive best
- Empathy – Last but most important, living a life of compassion and empathy towards self and others
Cultivating a productive ‘mindset’ which not only brings greater flow in life, but also creates harmony, better connections and a healthy synergistic life style is not a given but a goal or an aspiration.
Connect with Sukeshi Pandit Malhotra, Personal Mastery & Transformation Coach, via sukeshipm @ gmail.com
A not too narrowly set mind: A global mindset
by Mathias Sager
I often hear that mindset is everything. This common knowledge is used in various contexts and as a ‘tool’ to reach different goals. “If you just put your mind on it, you can get it” became a standard approach in the personal development business. While it’s a good thing to have that knowledge and skill in one’s individual toolbox, I’m also interested in how humanity can achieve a mindset that brings the whole species forward as a whole. From an Awareness Intelligence perspective, my area of research and practice as a psychologist, it is about how to learn to set our minds for increased (if not maximum) true diversity and inclusiveness; something I consider to be crucial if we want to address a more peaceful world. I have written a lot (also in this collaborative) about Awareness intelligence. In terms of the topic of mindset, the concept of ‘global mindset’ possibly comes closest to what I mean.
Mindset: Where’s your attention?
At its heart, mindset is an attention-based approach to performance and for describing a global mindset, therefore, ‘international attention’ – attention to global strategic issues, attention to international beliefs and issues, can be used. How does international attention occur? In accordance with research, for example, traveling to foreign locations or discussing international issues fosters cosmopolitan thinking and behavior. I’ve experienced that during my international work and life as an expatriate in Japan. At the same time, my work as a psychologist and artist involves a high degree of a growth mindset, which might be positively influencing the development of a global mindset. For example, by expanding my horizon, I could fill in some of the blind spots of a fixed psychological map that all too often results in automatic judgment based on cultural understanding. Having a cultural identity makes people’s life easier; many do rely on cultural notions of categories of people to predict others, rather than considering people as individuals, and they favor people they consider to be members of their group. That provides for the human basic need for stability, respectively a sense of safety. in contrast, some people can overcome fear and enjoy more risky, complex, and elaborate thinking, and who are more willing to reexamine initial notions in light of new information. These are the ones who often are attracted to art, theoretical disciplines, and philosophy. But it can take them a long time to decide. Sometimes too long. Or never!
The development of intercultural sensitivity
Intercultural sensitivity is a helpful model for developing a global mindset. Intercultural sensitivity is high when one can adapt to add new behaviors to be more effective in moving in between cultures. In this model from Milton Bennet (1993), the experience of (cultural) difference is moving from more ethnocentric to more ethnorelative stages as follows:
- Denial: “I don’t think there’s any other way.”
- Defense: “My way is the best.”
- Minimization: “What we have in common is more important.”
- Adaptation: “I’m adding new behaviors to be more effective in a cross-cultural environment.”
- Integration: “I can move in between cultures.”
Personal development towards a global mindset is a hard process because discrepancies between global and situational meaning cause distress. In fact, most conflict is based on the fear of invalidation, the threat of one’s (cultural) identity. A high degree of self-reflection, fearless self-questioning, and openness to commit to giving up privileges and support unity in diversity is required. In short, tremendous effort is required to reduce the distressful discrepancy between situational and global meanings.
Instructions for global information processing
Views that are limited to narrow social boundaries are inhibiting the development of social networks. Such symptoms and communicative isolation in their most extreme forms are characteristics of autism, a distinctly defined illness since the 1940s. The good news is: People lacking more global information processing can be instructed to improve. Humanity is not ill, but it definitively requires instructions on how to develop higher levels of awareness to connect sincerely with others. Interestingly, the availability of more and more global information (i.e., the Internet) did not increase the state of humanity’s global mindset. Instead of teaching how to justify current political structures, which are always local, we should educate on how to become global citizens who care for all.
A shift from cultural competence to Awareness Intelligence
Global citizenship is not a travel lifestyle, it should rather be an attitude of compassion. Multi-relational ability in the sense of Awareness Intelligence is a precondition for cross-cultural competence but goes beyond as it is culture-neutral. Any travel starts within! Cultural competence can be developed by putting one’s feet in another’s shoes. Awareness Intelligence (see also related articles on www.mathias-sager.com), however, is putting one’s consciousness in another’s soul. This will not only enable us to experience some different walks of life but to learn to qualify all of life’s souls. Real and lasting change comes from the level of mental models that enable awareness. Only if the deep-rooted individual mindsets shift towards forming a regenerated collective of deculturized societal structures, human behavioral patterns will start to change accordingly as well. That’s the utopian world of my dreams, the passion in my teachings, the goal of my art, and my deepest belief that it’s still possible; for the benefit of the individual and the common good alike.
Connect with Mathias Sager, psychologist @ www.mathias-sager.com
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
The Winning Mindset (Win-Win-Win)
by Claire Rajan
The dictionary definitions of agency I will use for this article are
: active force; action; power
: action or intervention, especially such as to produce a particular effect.
In his book called “Finite and Infinite Games,” author James Carse explains the difference between a finite and infinite game. He states, “There are at least two kinds of games, one could be called finite and the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”
For simplicity, a finite game is competitive with a single winner, such as chess or basketball. Infinite games are different; the goal here is to sustain the game.
The term “Win-Win-Win” is often heard among many circles to motivate people to live their best Life. The meaning being used within the context of “I win – You win – We win.” It has merit and is worth exploring. In this article, I consider the term differently in a way that distills more personal meaning and existential purpose.
The Agency of Life
Life has its agency; it supports every living thing present. The vision and goals of the agency of Life are to maintain continuity, playing an infinite game. This order of Life perpetuates through cycles; Life is created, destroyed, and reborn. Therefore, Life carries on long after we are each gone, and broadly speaking, this is known as the agency of Life.
There is a critical angle to consider here. Most living systems are created with a design to reach fruition. Let’s consider a seed. The seed is unique (separate from other seeds) and can grow to its full expression as a tree or a fruit-bearing tree. The seeds in the fruit maintain continuity. A seed grows into a healthy tree (fruit-bearing or not) in its fullest expression. However, it isn’t easy to comprehend exactly how the seed eventually grows into a tree. Becoming a healthy tree that bears good fruit serves a valuable purpose for the continuity of Life. Life supports growth; it knows what best helps the seed in its journey from seed to tree. Given the right conditions, a seed will grow to its fullest and healthiest expression. Life in its incredible intelligence allows and supports this transformation naturally.
Individual / Personal Agency
Just like that tree, we humans can also be considered a seed with the potential to grow into our own fullest expression. This potential unknown to us is fully known and supported by the Agency of Life.
Winning Through Achievement
One dominant thinking today is “Winning through achievement.” The focus is looking at our lives through a finite game lens (“I win” or “We Win” if we are part of a team). We expend much of our time and energy on winning more through our accomplishments. We engage in many finite games throughout our lives, which is valid and appropriate. Unfortunately, our focus on winning through achievement might not always serve the game of continuity that Life plays and supports. Such a focus might not even support our best interest. We might easily fall into the trap of winning at all costs, in some cases undermining the value of our own human experience and those of others around us.
Personal Agency in Alignment with Life
Just as a fruit-bearing seed has the potential to grow into a healthy fruit-bearing tree, each of us has the potential to become the best version of ourselves.
We often do not pay any attention to our evolution, potential, and best version, which unfolds as an evolutionary process. Instead, we focus primarily on winning through achievements. Our focus might become narrow and driven by personal interest. When we surrender to Life’s guidance, we allow ourselves to align with what Life can support, work with, and guide us forward.
As social creatures, we have a fundamental need to belong. We feel safe in groups. The term often used is “Safety and Strength in Numbers.” However, when we are part of a group, we may lose our individuality. When the group agency/agenda takes precedence, we might have to comply and go with what the group serves. Such compliance may become a problem when we must over-accommodate to fit in and help the group at the cost of losing our sense of self in the process. The group agency may not align with the personal agency or the higher potentiality a person might hope to express.
My journey has guided me to give the highest priority to the agency of Life. The reason is Universal Life Intelligence governs and supports all of Life, including my own. My agency manifests as me living out my full expression and aligning with an ever-unfolding potential if aligned with Life agency. Group agency is served, when I can express myself in full service and bring my talents to the appropriate group (that Life guides me to).
The Win-Win-Win here is a win for Life’s agency by serving my individual agency to support the group agency from my highest potential.
We often hear the use of the growth mindset in academia as being open to learning, willing to make mistakes, and growing in the process. The growth mindset is valuable. For this type of Win-Win-Win mindset, I would like to emphasize the importance of allowing Life to teach and guide us. This guidance will be highly personalized, and our lessons come from understanding our individual circumstances. Life knows what our highest potential, our unfoldment, and what we might best serve. Trusting Life, its process, learning from Life’s lessons, and staying the course is the way. It will require us to surrender and learn some hard lessons not meant to destroy us but solely to make us stronger. With this mindset, Life guides us through a very enriching experiential journey.
It will require active participation, patience, paying heed to our intuition, study, and developing the strength of our inner authority. Life guides us toward authorship and ownership of our lives.
We will learn to play along with the natural order that Life supports and take the punches and curveballs that Life might throw at us, some pleasant and some painful. Engaging the game of Life in this spirit where we know fully well that Life has our best interest and that we are not alone requires that we trust the mystery of Life. Yet, within this mystery and trusting relationship, Life offers us many opportunities to grow and transform. If we can listen, engage, and follow-through, we could very well be moving in the direction of what would be the best version of ourselves – which is a win for all.
Connect with Claire Rajan, Life Coach & Enneagram Coach @ www.clairerajan.com
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
Thinking about my great-grandchildren
By Rika Cossey
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift.” This saying is attributed to many different thinkers, past and present. Until recently, I liked it. It gave me a sense of aiming to live in the moment and to enjoy my today. But, I’m beginning to question the undertone it carries. Yes, yesterday is past, and I can’t change or even rewrite history. I can learn from it and draw different conclusions every day, but I can’t change it. Today is a gift – I won’t argue that.
But I want to argue the mystery of tomorrow. The saying makes it sound like we have no agency over tomorrow. But the truth is that we do, every day and with every choice we make. And in times of climate change, the choices we make today are more critical than ever.
Adopting a “tomorrow” mindset
Whenever you and I make a decision today, it affects tomorrow and sometimes even decades to come. Just like the stone in water, our choices have ripple effects – all of them.
Just take the example of hairspray in the 1950s and its key ingredient: aerosols, or better yet chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The aerosols in hairspray and other products, which were discovered in 1930, were later found to be contributing to ozone depletion and ultimately to the, generally described, ozone hole in the 1970s. Even today, anyone in Australia and New Zealand will know about the ozone layer. And Antarctica is still subject to the effects of a thinner ozone layer. However, if it weren’t for the use of aerosols in hairspray and other household products, the ozone layer would not have thinned.
Chemical reactions aside, the example shows that everything we do affects our world, and every decision we make can affect tomorrow. It can be a decision to do something or not to do something. Thus, our todays link to our tomorrows.
And that is where I want to locate the tomorrow mindset, a mindset that acts today with the future in mind. It’s not a common mindset in our consumer culture today. We want what we want today, not tomorrow or some distant day in the future. Everything should happen now.
Using a future mindset means to break away from instant gratification and to lean towards patience, thought processes, and consideration for what is to come.
I’m staying on the individual level with these ideas for now because that is the realm we each have power over. We each make choices, and we need to evaluate these choices. But, of course, the scope can be much more significant.
The seventh-generation principle
In light of sustainability, policymakers are now moving towards a Native American principle and the simple question: how will the seventh generation from today be affected by our decisions today?
This relatively straightforward question carries tremendous weight when looking at energy production, water and land use, and even climate disruptive behaviour. Will future generations benefit from our lives today, or will they lead a diminished life because of us alive today?
I find the principle a very confronting one because it calls into action that we need to adopt a different mindset to the way we treat our planet. At the current trajectory, seven generations from today will not enjoy a bountiful life. My great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren, who might be born around 2190, will not enjoy the kind of life I deem normal today. So, the question for me remains: what can I do today so that my descendants have the same opportunities and possibilities as I have today?
Thinking with our acorn brain
There is one solution I find comforting when I tackle the “tomorrow”-mindset, and that is to think with an acorn brain. Just like a squirrel burying acorns in the autumn, I, too, can begin to plant trees, literally or figuratively speaking. I can make decisions that will benefit future generations. I can think about what my great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren might look like, picture them in my mind, and then make a decision.
I started this article with a saying that points to the fact that we need to treat every moment as a gift. And I agree with that. But maybe rather than treating it as a gift to us personally, we can begin to think about our legacy. Perhaps we can start to think of an acorn that grows slowly over decades and centuries to come. And we can imagine how that acorn turns into a tree for our descendants and act as if we can protect them in person from the sun and rain.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —