How to be happy and have a growth mindset

This week we continue our posts contributed by guest editors who are also wellbeing professionals.  Charlotte Style, author of “Brilliant Positive Psychology” reminds us of the common-sense fact that kindness and happiness go hand-in-hand and suggests ways to become both kinder, and happier! 

Research is showing that having a growth mindset rather than being fixed in how we see the world is an important distinction between people who thrive and those who don’t.

People with a growth mindset never stop learning. Your ability to adapt and learn is a key component of your happiness and well-being. We all face challenges and change, and having an attitude that embraces personal growth happens when we are willing to learn. Setbacks and failure are opportunities to improve and grow.
People with a growth mindset love challenges and new experiences.

In her book, Mindset: The new psychology of success, Carol Dweck explains how having an open mind to both our abilities and the world we live in allows us to grow and develop, and that holding fixed ideas reduces and limits not only our potential, but our potential for happiness. She also says that as a culture we don’t praise enough the effort and struggle people make, especially the young, when facing and overcoming setbacks.

‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’ Albert Einstein,1879–1955
According to Carol Dweck
People with a Growth Mindset:
  • Are open to new ideas.
  • Are always learning (especially from setbacks).
  • Enjoy challenges.
  • Believe that abilities develop.
  • Believe that lives and relationships and other people develop.
  • Work at relationships

People with a Fixed Mindset

  • Believe that ability and intelligence are innate.
  • Are Judgemental.
  • Limit achievement (crumbles in the face of challenge and adversity).
  • Believe that if relationships need work they must be wrong.
  • Believe that that if they have to work at things they must be stupid – it should come naturally
Research has shown that people with a growth mindset are more likely to be realistic about themselves and their abilities than those with a fixed mindset. Being open to growth, learning and  development does not mean an over-inflated idea of one’s abilities, but openness to possibilities and potential.
How open to change and development are you?
Think of a time or incident that was hard for you.
What did you learn?
How did you change?
What in your life has changed for the better because of this?
What, about the experience, are you grateful for?
With a growth mindset we grow intellectually (growing in our knowledge of the world and developing our reasoning powers) and emotionally (growing more emotional intelligence). All experience becomes good as it builds resources and self knowledge for positive growth and change.  The more we know about ourselves the greater are our chances of realising our potential
Find your mindset
Read the statements below and mark whether you agree or disagree with them:
1. You are the person you are and you can’t really change that, or
2. I believe that everybody can change, every kind of person is able to change.
3. The main part of who you are can’t change but you can do things differently, or
4 .You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.
*[Questions 1 and 3 are the fixed mindset questions and 2 and 4 are the growth mindset.]

If you are most comfortable with statements 1 and 3, try thinking about what it means to you to believe that people cannot change, and, more importantly, what would change in your life if you chose statements 2 and 4. Then: Make a quick list of where you have opportunities to learn more.

 Carol Dweck (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books

Chatlotte is a member of the Breathe London wellbeing team.  To book a coaching session with Charlotte go to


Posted on July 31, 2011, in Coaching, Meditation etc. and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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