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Losing Brain Cells

Let’s talk about growth mindset. Raise your had if you were taught that if you lose brain cells, you can’t get more. I know I was when I was a kid–part of the “don’t watch too much TV” campaign. Growth mindset is the opposite. It’s the idea that your brain can create new neural pathways, that you can get smarter.

I’ve been doing growth mindset printouts and videos with my kids the past couple of weeks. Class dojo has some great videos on the subject! Very digestible ūüôā And MissWinter’sBliss has a bunch of free printouts.

One of the printouts we did was one that compares fixed and growth mindset. It was so helpful, I’m going to give you the list. As you read through them, ask yourself which characteristics fit you.

Fixed Mindset…

  • is jealous when other kids do well.
  • believes it doesn’t help to work hard.
  • won’t try new and hard things.
  • avoids challenges.
  • believes if they don’t try they won’t make a mistake.
  • gives up easily.

Growth mindset…

  • is inspired when others do well.
  • believes effort helps them learn.
  • likes to try new things.
  • loves a challenge.
  • can learn from their mistakes.
  • keeps trying until they can do it.

I have to admit, reading through the list was a little painful. There are times when I’m firmly in fixed mindset–jealous of the people who are succeeding at the things I want to do, believing hard work never gets me anywhere, afraid to try new things, challenges, or mistakes, and giving up easily.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in circumstances. I get cranky and overwhelmed with the distance between where I want to be and where I am. And sometimes I don’t do the work because it feels too hard (impossible). I just found myself procrastinating on facebook instead of moving forward on a project.

So what about you? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

This is such a vital issue! As Christians, the essence of sanctification is to keep growing and changing. I LOVE that God created us with room to make mistakes and learn. We see this so clearly with children, but I think we forget to give ourselves (and others) the same grace as adults. And sometimes we just plain forget to grow–we get stuck doing the same things in the same ways because it’s comfortable and familiar. But following God’s call requires stepping out of our comfort zone. It requires doing different things or doing the same thing a different way. It requires change (I know that’s a four letter word to some people).

One amazing thing about growth mindset is that if you’re in a fixed mindset, you don’t have to stay there–you can become someone with growth mindset. This is something I’m working on. When I hear myself say, “I don’t know how to do this,” I add “yet” onto the end of that sentence. I’ve also been stepping out of my comfort zone a little more. Developing a growth mindset is a challenge, but it’s one well-worth doing.

As I’ve switched up my thinking, I’ve definitely seen benefits! For example, I’m much more willing to give myself grace. I used to beat myself up for mistakes. Now, I can tell myself that it’s okay to make a mistake and that mistakes are the stepping stones to success. It’s definitely lowered my stress level not having that negativity hanging over me! And I can cheer other people on because their success shows success is possible–it’s an encouragement that I too can get there.

So what about you? Where did you fit on the list, and what are you going to do about it?

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Christian Living

Free to Fly

How was everybody’s Thanksgiving? I really love the idea that we can set ourselves up for success! Like I talked about last week with using Thanksgiving to set up our holidays. I guess it’s because my schedule tends toward the packed side and my health tends towards exhaustion and my stress level tends towards more than I want it to be. There’s so much I can’t control. The idea that I can hook myself into a railroad track that will carry me the direction I want to head is music to my soul.

On our podcast, Epic Every Day, we introduce it by saying it’s designed for busy, overwhelmed Christians who want to move towards freedom, abundance, and peace. Those concepts have been my goals for the past several years.

In Gal. 5:1 Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” It’s easy to forget how amazing that is in the daily grind of life. Unless I’m reminded, I don’t think about freedom when I’m in the middle of school or housekeeping or even writing and podcasting. But we can’t take it for granted. Paul continues by saying, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (NIV). We’re designed to fly, but so often we hang around on the ground.

I’m reminded of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. They were so used to working 7 days a week that they went out to gather manna, even though God (via Moses) told them not to. He reinstated the Sabbath but their train tracks were to work 7 days.

Our natural tendency is to live in bondage. It might be the bondage of fear/worry. Or maybe it’s bondage to an addiction. Or bondage to stress. Or bondage to jealousy or envy. Or maybe it’s bondage to the past–carrying regret or being unable to forgive yourself. Maybe it’s bondage to people-pleasing or trying to control things in your life. Or, like Paul talks about, maybe it’s bondage to rules–trying to earn salvation. We all lived in bondage before Jesus saved us. For me, I had so much fear wrapped up in my PTSD. Years of therapy and personal work, by God’s grace, have brought freedom that I never thought possible. Sometimes I notice it in little things, like being able to watch my kids chew gum without having a panic attack. Or sometimes it’s in big things like sleeping through the night consistently for the first time in my life.

We all have some kind of bondage. The question is what we’re going to do about it. We can stay trapped. One of the most insidious traps is to be stuck in “someday”–“Someday I’ll address that bondage.” “Someday my life circumstances will be different and my heart issues will go away by themselves.” “Someday I’ll have time to inventory where I’m in bondage.”

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts…” (Heb. 3:7-8)

There’s no time to wait for someday. And, as I’ve talked about before, we can’t apply a circumstance solution to a heart problem. The heart problem will be there until we fix the heart problem. Freedom is internal before it shows up externally. We’re so blessed because we don’t have to earn our salvation! We have a loving heavenly Father who gives us good gifts that are perfectly individualized for each of us (James 1:17). We have the Holy Spirit to work the fruit of the Spirit in us when we surrender–so many of which are the antidote to bondage. We don’t have to live in bondage–we choose to live in it.

So where don’t you have freedom? And what’s stopping you from getting it?

Copy of Blog_ Using Thanksgiving as a springboard

Christian Living

Failing well

I recently started working through Lysa Terkeurst’s Bible study “The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.” I’m really enjoying it!! I definitely needed to hear the importance of prioritizing this week.

In session 3, she talks about the difference between an error and an end: “An error is an unintentional mistake; an end is a termination,” (p. 89). She was talking about how fear of stepping out of God’s will can paralyze us. We get stuck in the belief that failure means an end–a mistake from which there’s no recovery, no way to fix the mistake. I have to admit that’s my tendency. I think it comes from having had situations where relationships ended no matter what I tried.

But errors are unintentional mistakes that God redeems. If we’re trying to follow God and we don’t do it perfectly (who does?!), God is able to redeem that error into something beautiful. He can use it to change our lives for the better and to change others’ lives for the better.

I’m reminded of the net under tightrope walkers. If they make a mistake, the net is there to catch them, to keep them safe. And then they can try again. There’s a freedom in knowing one doesn’t have to be perfect.

It’s like Carol Dweck talks about with a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset is one where you believe your brain can become smarter, you can learn new skills. You make mistakes because you know that it creates new neural pathways in your brain, allowing you to come closer to attaining your goal.

We’ve been talking about surrender all week on our podcast, Epic Every Day, and how it takes guts to surrender to God. It’s not easy. Mistakes are a place where surrender comes in handy. It brings God’s redemption into play.

And it aligns us with what’s already true–we can’t make any situation (mistake or not) come out right, regardless of how hard we try. I often hold myself to the standard of making things come out the way I think they should, but it’s a ridiculous standard. I am as incapable of directing circumstances as I am of directing the wind.

Obviously, that isn’t to say that our actions don’t matter. They do–they matter more than we can understand. We don’t have time to waste on getting caught up in inanities, in the busyness of life. We have to do the things God has called us to do. We have to apply the CSC’s (being calm, surrendered, centered, connected, & complete) or we’ll miss out on freedom and abundance and peace. Those things are worth fighting for–at least for me.

Lysa references Proverbs 3:5-6 and argues that the opposite of trusting God is trying to figure everything out on our own. She has three different spectrums as a measure of where one is at with trusting God: what degree thought about the situation, what degree you’ve prayed about the situation, what degree you’ve entrusted the outcome of the situation to God.

As I was placing myself on those spectrums, it was definitely convicting. I often pray because I’m trying to convince God to work in my situation, rather than praying out of trust. Or I’ll get stuck trying to piece together every possible scenario and what the best thing to do about each of them is and forget to pray.

That’s not who I want to be. I want to be someone who makes mistakes well because I am learning and growing and because I believe God can redeem them, rather than someone who avoids acting out of the fear of making mistakes.

So what about you? How do you handle mistakes?

Failing Well

Christian Living

Why you should embrace “not yet”

As I mentioned last week, my phone died. Yesterday, the new phone we got arrived. It’s an iPhone 5. We decided to go with an iPhone so I can (theoretically) sync my novel and work on it both places. Frankly, the transition has been painful. I’ve already been cranky and feeling like progress is stalled in several areas of my life. It hasn’t helped to feel like I’m back to phone usage 101. I miss my android system! I miss the familiarity of it. I miss having free apps that do what I want them to do.

Been doing lots of whining, in case you couldn’t tell.

Today, I watched this video. It’s a TED talk by Carol Dweck, and in it, she talks about how children handle challenge. It was actually quite fascinating and exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes I get so frustrated by the minute progress I see on my goals. I want to reach them now! Or at least to see significant progress, rather than 1% improvement every day. But life is about the 1%. If we really made 1% improvement every day, we’d arrive in 100 days. Better to be the turtle than the hare. But I digress.

TED talk. Children can be taught to handle challenge one of two ways. Carol Dweck used a math test to study this behavior. The first way is to see their failure at the test as a failure of themselves–they didn’t do well enough. They couldn’t do well enough. It engenders frustration and ultimately, despair.

The second way is to see their failure as a “not yet”–they haven’t learned enough to pass the test yet.¬†Teachers who started giving their students the grade of “not yet” saw a huge upswing in their students’ scores. Telling your students/children/self that you haven’t gotten there yet reframes challenge as opportunity. It empowers you to study more or read the documentation for your crazy iOS system that isn’t working the way it should or whatever it is that you need to do to succeed. It creates a mindset where success is possible. And it helps your brain grow so you’re more able to handle the next challenge.

This morning, JB Glossinger, told Zig Ziglar’s “How to Train a Flea” story on his Morning Coach podcast. Basically, you put the flea in a jar with the lid on. The flea will always try to jump out. After some time, it learns not to hit the lid and begins to moderate its jumps. When you take the lid off, the flea continues moderating its jumps and will never escape.

Way too often, that is me. I don’t know if it’s a personality thing or how I was raised (or some combination) but I learned early in life to never do something outside of my competencies. Certain things I wasn’t automatically good at and so I would try them once (or not at all) and then not do them again. I didn’t get that “not yet” mindset.

As an adult, I’ve had to catch myself when I fall into fatalism. It’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed in our crazy, busy society. But there’s always hope because we have a God who redeems everything. And if any religion has a reason to embrace “not yet,” it’s Christianity with our God who is always working our best and a future hope of eternal life with Jesus.

So! I challenge us to stop any time we hear those failure messages and reframe them as “not yet.” I haven’t mastered my phone or designing webpages or writing fiction or podcasting or parenting or teaching or being healthy¬†yet.¬†How about you? What haven’t you done yet?