How to Have a Grow Mentality

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” —Lao Tzu

This quote by Lao Tzu is really the key to all happiness. I touched on this idea in an earlier article, How to be Happy, and this is somewhat of a sequel to that article. You might be wondering what a “grow mentality” is or how this is related to being happy. Let’s talk about how these two ideas are connected and what you can do to practice them in your own life.

A grow mentality is the ability to maintain a state of mind that allows you and those around you to grow to their highest potential. We live in a world, and with thought processes, that are continually putting limits on what we and what others can achieve. For example; you might say, I’m not the type of person that can get up and talk to people right away in the morning, I’m too crabby. So you never get up and communicate with anyone right away or your interactions are less than pleasant because you’ve labeled yourself as “not a morning person”. That’s fine if that’s the life you want, but maybe changing that thought process and challenging yourself will bring you greater joy and happiness.

You might be thinking, easier said than done, I can’t just change who I am. My response to that is that you are not your actions, you cannot change who you are but you can change what you do through practice, perseverance and patience. We don’t give enough credit to those three little words. When used together they have powerful ramifications. They are the difference between success and failure.

How do you think you became a “crabby morning person” in the first place. My guess is, through practice you didn’t even realize you were getting. You fostered it without a second thought. Then, you made yourself the owner of it by labeling yourself. This in turn allows you to have free reign with a bad attitude in the morning with anyone you come into contact with because they should know you’re a “crabby morning person”. The truth is you’re using this as en excuse to have a bad attitude and it’s also putting you in a state of mind that causes a bad attitude.

A grow mentality says, instead of “I’m a crabby morning person,” maybe, “I recognize I might need a little more time to wake up, but I’m going to challenge myself to have pleasant interactions in the morning by communicating what I need from a place of love.” This thought process, opens your mind up to be accepting of yourself and your needs. It also helps you grow by understanding deeper who you are as an individual, and also how to communicate with people who might be in a different frame of mind than you at the time.

This is just one simple example of how we can limit ourselves. There are so many others we could discuss, but let’s talk about how this relates to limiting others. Pretend with me for a moment you’re the “crabby morning person” from the example above. Your spouse, friend, family member might say, “so-and-so is just a crabby morning person, so don’t talk to them, they’ll bite your head off.” They have reinforced the negative behavior and title of you being a “crabby morning person.” This not only deters positive and maybe meaningful conversation that could help you or them grow, but also stops you from challenging yourself to become better.

A better way of responding to a self labeled “crabby morning person” out of love is maybe saying, “I understand you need a little more time to wake up right now and I respect that, but this doesn’t give you license to be crabby. You’re better than that and I deserve to be talked to with love and respect.” A statement like this, comes from a place of love; love for yourself and love for the other person. It allows for self reflections and growth for all parties involved.

The reality is we can all choose the actions and behaviors we put out into the world. A grow mentality doesn’t leave room for excuses for ourselves or anyone else to engage in negative or destructive behavior. A grow mentality says, I’m not there yet, but I can be with practice, patience and perseverance. A grow mentality expects more from us and from those around us by not limiting with labels or acceptance of bad habits. A grow mentality looks at ourselves and others as transient beings who have the ability to change and grow if we only have the desire to.

How does this relate to being happy? When we live in a reality of limiting ourselves and others with negative labels and habits, using them to define the person rather than letting the true person shine through, we diminish who that person really is. We also live in a state of mind that is associated with negativity. A growth mentality focuses around what you can control and take responsibility for. If you live in a reality that is circling around what you can’t control rather than practicing to find what you can control you will continually be in a state of unhappiness. Finding a solution rather than just seeing a problem is a growth mentality and also puts your mind into a happy and constructive place.

You decide, what do you do to have a grow mentality? A question I love to ask around the dinner table every night is just that; what did you do today that made you grow mentally, spiritually, or physically? There should be flurry of conversation around this simple question. I believe we grow best by practicing prudence in what we think about, say, and do which makes us all better people. Growth also comes through self reflection and communication with others. Let’s practice communication that brings growth by steering clear of conversations that start with “you/I always” or “you/I never” and ask rather, how can we communicate in a way which will make us grow. Think of yourself and everyone around you as a sunflower, given the right nutrients they will grow tall and strong, producing many wonderful seeds. What do you think?

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