June 4, 2020
I keep having some interesting old YouTube videos popping up on my social media feeds. Yesterday, I came across an interview that Virat Kohli, the inspirational Indian Cricket Captain, gave a few years back to one of the sports channels. In the interview, Virat speaks about the three changes he made in his life around his body, diet, and mindset, that transformed him from average to extraordinary. When specifically asked about which of these he rates as the most impactful in driving his improvement, he mentions mindset. His rationale-“Only if my mindset was good could I have focused on working on my fitness or paid attention to my diet.” The interviewer did not push Virat to elaborate more on what he did to manage the three areas correctly, but it did spark a chain of thought in me.
What is a mindset, and how does one manage a proper mindset?
To understand about mindset, it would be good to do a quick brush-up of the two building blocks of our mindset- beliefs, and attitudes.
A belief is a feeling of certainty we have about something. E.g., If you have a belief that you are smart, you are saying to yourself , “I feel certain that I am smart.” If you have a belief that you are not a good communicator, you are saying to yourself “I feel certain that I cannot communicate well.”
Attitude is our tendency to evaluate people, issues, events, objects in a certain way that could be positive, negative, or neutral. Simply put, our attitude is our feeling about something.
Our mindset is a way of thinking based on our beliefs and attitudes. It is our mental disposition, our frame of mind. Our way of thinking affects how we think, feel, and act. Our mindset forms the basis for how we see ourselves and the world around us.
Our beliefs, attitudes, and mindset operate in a circular reference. Our beliefs shape our attitudes, and our attitudes develop our mindset and the actions we take. The actions we take and our mindset in turn reinforce our attitude and beliefs. E.g., If I have a belief that I am smart, when I encounter a problem, I have a positive attitude and a mindset that I can solve the problem. When I solve the problem, it in turn reinforces my belief that I am smart.
Coming back to the original point I was trying to address- How do we manage a positive mindset?
Let me give an analogy here. Junk food is tasty but bad for the body in terms of physical health. On the other hand, high energy, nutritious food is bland and boring to eat but great for the body in terms of our energy and overall wellbeing.
Our mindset, like our body, reacts to the food it consumes. If we feed our mind negative, junky stuff, it feels tasty and exciting for the mind, but it negatively impacts our mindset. Mindless social media feeds, Negative news, scandals of rich and famous, corrupt politics, pornography, etc. these are all exciting to the senses but damaging to the mindset in terms of distraction, negativity, fantasizing, catastrophizing.
A positive mindset, like a healthy body, comes from exposure to the right type of content- Good books, Inspiring stories, positive ideas, messages of gratitude. These, unfortunately, are not exciting and attractive to the mind. The mind craves the bad stuff.
Disciplining ourselves to consume the right type of content is key to building a powerful, positive mindset that will anchor us to be mindful, grateful, positive, honest, kind. This is what transformed Virat Kohli from ordinary into extraordinary !!.