Take this test to discover your mindset.
The science behind it may surprise you!
For each one of the following statements, decide whether you mostly agree, or mostly disagree:
1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change much.
2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.
4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.
Your beliefs reveal your mindset.
If you mostly agreed with 1 and 2, then you have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” If you mostly agreed with 3 and 4, then yours is a “growth mindset.” Research shows that your mindset—fixed or growth—powerfully influences how happy and successful you are likely to be, as well as whether your relationships will fail or succeed.
Fixed- or growth-mindset: Which is correct?
Fixed-mindset folks believe that intelligence is an inherited trait which remains the same throughout life. Growth-mindset proponents believe that our intelligence changes, depending on how we use our minds. Who is right? Recent research proves definitively that the growth-mindset is correct.
Your brain is always changing.
Following the advent of brain-imaging technology, we now know that our brain-cell networks are continuously shifting in response to our experience and thoughts. This is due to what neuroscientists call “brain plasticity.” That’s the discovery that every day, our brains are physically re-forming—letting go of old brain-cell connections and creating new ones.
For worse or better, it’s up to you.
Whether you are becoming dumber—or smarter!—depends on how, and how much, you are using your brain. Pretty basic, right? And just as you can change your intelligence, you can change your mindset. So if the test just now showed your mindset was “fixed,” I invite you to take note of the science and change your mind. Adopt a growth mindset. This will pay off.
A growth mindset leads to a better life.
Studies by Dweck and other scientists reveal that a growth mindset leads to deeper fulfillment and greater achievement. We’ll explore some of that research in future blogs (so if you’re not already on my list, please sign up now using the form at the top right). But if you want to take a deep dive immediately, see Dweck’s terrific book, Mindset.
For right now, let’s focus on the scientifically proven fact that people with growth mindsets tend to enjoy better relationships. Why? Because they’re predisposed to make an effort. Since they understand a person’s intelligence improves with effort, they easily grasp that relationships do too.
A fixed mindset bodes ill for relationships.
In contrast, fixed-mindset people believe that an individual is either smart or not, period. Consequently, studies show, they tend to expect the smarties to succeed effortlessly (and the dummies to fail no matter what). Research finds that they see relationships much the same way—as either bad or good, and a good relationship should mean you don’t have to try too hard.
As marriage authority Aaron Beck puts it, such people believe that, “If we need to work at it, there’s something seriously wrong with our relationship.” According to Beck, this anti-effort belief ultimately will doom even the most initially blissful, ultra-romantic and seemingly perfect couple.
Embrace the idea of “working on” relationships.
All long-term relationships (including platonic and professional relationships, by the way) require ongoing effort, at the very least to resolve conflict. Because each person is wonderfully unique, any meaningful relationship will, over time, give rise to conflict. It takes work to prevent conflict from being destructive, and also to alchemize conflict to create a deeper connection.
Of course truly good relationships need more than just conflict resolution. But all of those other needs, too—such as trust, positivity, play, inspiration and adventure—also require effort. While most people “know” the importance of working on relationships, studies indicate that quite often, the only ones who actually do the work are those with a growth mindset.
You can change if you want to. (I did!)
When I first took Dweck’s test seven years ago, it pegged me with a fixed mindset. In my defense, that was before I learned about brain plasticity. Also, I grew up in a fixed-mindset family. Dweck’s science thus helped explain some of my past relationship failures. Seeing myself and others as “fixed” in our abilities meant that I could not imagine real growth or improvement for individuals or relationships. And if you cannot imagine something, you cannot bring it into being.
Now I’m convinced that both individuals and relationships can—and must—continually grow and change in order to thrive. Such never-ending evolution requires disciplined commitment. A passive, let’s-see-how-it-goes attitude is the kiss of death. Overall, that’s good news, because it means we each have power to continuously improve ourselves and our relationships if we choose to do the work!
Relax, knowing that it’s not about being perfect.
Even now, I find patches of the old closed-mindedness within myself, but fortunately now I also have the tools to weed those out. In upcoming blogs, we’ll explore the best strategies to cultivate a healthy growth mindset. (It’s great stuff—so if you’re not already on my email list, please opt-in for blog updates using the form at the top right of this page.)
What about you? Did the test surprise you? Which mindset did you grow up with? Which one did your parents live by? Which do you embrace now? Please share your experience and wisdom below. And if you’ve enjoyed this post, please click Like. Thank you!