How to Develop a Flexible Mindset Amidst Change

There’s nothing like a years-long global pandemic to remind us that change is inevitable and unpredictable. It’s been a challenge to adapt our lives to changing rules and circumstances and has caused many emotions: frustration, anger, grief, impatience, sorrow.

It can also make it hard to plan for the future, whether that’s moving homes, finding a new job, or planning to go to college. How can you make important decisions when things feel unstable?

But pandemic or not, change is a constant factor. We cannot stop the world, society, friends, or even ourselves, from experiencing change. That’s why it’s important to learn how to create a flexible mindset, so that we can embrace change and still live our lives even when we don’t know what the next few months will bring.

Cultivating flexible thinking

As Leonard Mlodinow, author of Elastic, said in Scientific American, we often forget that people like change. We like trying new restaurants, going to new locations, and making new friends. Harnessing this mindset requires relaxing our minds, which requires not being as worried about failure.

When you let go of logical thinking and embrace experimentation, you’re going to be more ok with seeing how change plays out. Mlodinow says this can even help you stumble across a new way of thinking about something. The article recommends focusing on something for a certain duration followed by a relaxing, mindless activity, like exercising. You can also consider arguments against strong-held beliefs you have, to help you see new perspectives.

Facing fears

Psychology Today recommends reframing the way you think about activities that scare you. So instead of thinking about how making a presentation at work is something dreadful, think about how it’s an opportunity for you to learn something new. You get to practice skills like memorization, engaging a large group of people, and developing persuasive arguments, all fantastic skills to have at any job (or at a house party!).

Borrow someone else’s perspective

When facing a problem, consider how a friend might approach the challenge. Fast Company recommends thinking about challenges through the lens of someone else, like how a CFO might take on a predicament versus a lawyer versus a teacher.

Seeing the world from someone else’s perspective is a great way to expand the way we think. It may even inspire other people to start to see challenges from your perspective! 

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