Mindset, Resilience & Healthy Longevity by Dr. Landry

Exploring the theme of The How of Healthy Longevity, by focusing on resilience, and how to strengthen this critically important survival trait.

We all interpret and process the world through our unique lens: certainly, our visual lens, but more importantly, our mental and emotional lenses.  I will address our mental lens here, and our emotional lens in the next article.

Our mental lens is called mindset and is defined as a habitual mental attitude that determines how we interpret and respond to situations.  For example, when we are confronted with change, how do we respond?  Do we resist? Accept it? Welcome it? Do we have a half-full or half-empty view of the world?  Are we willing to listen to opposite views or feel compelled to prove them wrong?  Do we believe that our personal effort can make a difference in our lives, or is it more about luck or privilege? Do we treat people as if they are basically good, or self-serving?  These are just a few of the many beliefs, opinions and preferences that make us unique and drive our behavior.
 
How is mindset formed?
The answer to this question would undoubtedly be… we create it from our experience.  Although this may be true for some of our established views, oftentimes these views are based on very limited experience.  A negative experience with one or two people from a certain place, or with certain characteristics, may be the basis for a generalized mindset of such people.  Likewise, our entrenched view on a topic may be based on no personal experience, but only on things we read about or learned from social media that agree with our already-established view.  Some of our beliefs may be the result of things we were told when we were children and accepted fully. We may be reluctant to try something because we failed at a similar attempt earlier in life.
The point is, we often form opinions, expectations, biases, and preferences based on very limited experience which we leave untested, and search for things that are consistent with our current beliefs.  
 
Fixed vs Growth mindset
A mindset that resists any possibility of things being different than what we currently believe is called a fixed mindset.  It resists change, reflects a victim mentality, has low expectations of the outcome of personal effort, supports bias and lacks curiosity.  We have learned that some of the characteristics of a resilient person are: an understanding and acceptance that all things change; a belief that personal effort can overcome adversity; a healthy curiosity; an appetite to learn and try new things; and a half-full view of the world.  It’s clear then, that a fixed mindset is incompatible with resilience, and therefore a threat to a healthy longevity.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, is most compatible with resilience since the characteristics of both are nearly identical.  For example, what are the characteristics of the resilient people who weathered the Pandemic well?  They believed they could survive and even thrive; were able to pivot with the new requirements to stay healthy; they saw some aspects of their lives which were better than before the Pandemic; and they trusted science and data to make decisions on their health and behavior.  Yes, the Pandemic was a powerful and unique event, however it was merely a more concentrated experience of the curve balls and challenges that life sends our way every day.
 
Are we stuck with our mindset?
Even though the definition of mindset is “a habitual mental attitude…” that does not mean that we cannot cultivate a growth mindset.  In fact, we often oscillate between growth and fixed mindset depending on the circumstance. That said, we do tend to gravitate towards one or the other for most of our lives. There is quote attributed to Chief Sitting Bull which is telling:
“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other is good, and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins, I answer, the one I feed the most.”
And so, it is with mindset. To the extent we recognize our limiting views and attempt to change them, we can indeed build a growth mindset which feeds our resilience.

Here are some simple mindset-altering strategies:

  • Be aware… Being mindful of your view or response to something is the beginning of not being a prisoner of it.

  • Challenge your views… Approach each view you hold now with a “What if it’s different than that” possibility.  Just the consideration is healthy.

  • “Uncertainty is the rule”…Realize that the world is not black and white. Embrace a grey view that allows for nuances and existence of other beliefs.

  • Listen to other views… You do not have to accept other views, but making sure you understand them is key to a peaceful coexistence.

  • Respect facts… Science and data are non-negotiable when it comes to truth.  Myths are important to we humans, but are unhealthy when they contradict reality.

  • Allow others their views… Give up the need to be right or at least the need to

to prove others wrong. Use the phrase “you may be right” more often.

  • See the positive… There are positive aspects to every happening. Finding the positive is a necessity if we are to thrive in a world of challenges.

  • Be flexible… Inflexible things break. Life is change.  Denying change is denying reality and leaves us incapable of resilience.

  • Seek, find, and follow your purpose… Having a strong purpose is true North for our lives. With it, we can manage the winds and currents of life’s challenges. Remember also, your purpose evolves as your life circumstances change.

About Dr. Roger Landry
Dr. Roger Landry is a preventive medicine physician, and President and Chief Content Officer of Masterpiece, a group of multi-discipline specialists in healthy longevity who partner with communities to enrich their wellness offering, and with individuals to support their healthy longevity strategy. Dr. Landry is the author of the award-winning Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging. He hosts a podcast Dr. Roger and Friends: The Bright Side of Longevity

Legal: Opinions are those of the author, Dr. Roger Landry. Construction:  SHALC GC, Inc. (AZ ROC#291056) (CA CSLB #1062050) (ID # RCE-56939) (NC #75061) (NV #0080574) (VA #2705152813) (WA #SHALCGI863P9).  Shea Homes Limited Partnership (CA CSLB #855368).  Shea Homes, Inc. (CA CSLB #672285). Sales: Shea Homes Marketing Company (CalDRE #01378646) (FL #CQ1034437). Shea Communities Marketing Company (AZ DRE #CO001121001) (ID #CO53675) (NC #C25840) (NV #B.1002134.CORP) (WA #19548). Homes in Bickford Ranch, Lake Frederick, Lake Norman, Summerlin, Sunstone, Orlando, Tehaleh, Valor, Vineyards and Vistancia locations are intended for occupancy by at least one person 55 years of age or older, with certain exceptions. Encanterra, Verde River, and Wickenburg Ranch are all-ages communities with select 55+ neighborhoods. Monarch Dunes is an all-ages community. Use of the golf course and club is at the pleasure of the club owner, and requires payment of additional fees. The Polo Club is private and requires the purchase of a separate membership from the club owner to access the club and its amenities. Golf courses at Encanterra, Verde River, and Wickenburg Ranch are planned to be private and access requires purchase of a separate golf membership from the course owner. Pricing does not include options, elevation, or lot premiums, effective date of publication and subject to change without notice.  All square footages and measurements are approximate and subject to change without notice. IN ARIZONA, A PUBLIC REPORT IS AVAILABLE ON THE STATE REAL ESTATE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE.  This is not intended to be an offer to sell, nor a solicitation of an offer to buy real estate to residents of any state or jurisdiction prohibited by law. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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