From the shape of your skull to the size of your foot, your body’s physical characteristics are more or less entirely predetermined from the start. Of course you can get plastic surgery or break a bone, but we human beings generally have very little control over our bodies’ features.
But what about intellectual and physical abilities, like playing basketball, drawing or solving math problems? Are they hereditary or learned? Today, most scientists agree that if you want to become a concert violinist, you not only need to have a musical disposition, but must dedicate years of your life to practising.
Still, there are as many answers to this question as there are people, for our mindset plays a crucial role in how we see ourselves and others. Simply put, our mindset shapes our beliefs in accomplishing something.
These two extremes form the basis for the concept of a fixed versus a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe they are born naturally gifted at doing some things but utterly incapable of others, whereas people with a growth mindset believe they can become virtuosos of anything if they try hard enough.
So the people in the latter group continue growing throughout their lives, acquiring new skills without reservation and actively engaging in their relationships. For them, life in all its facets is in a constant state of change.
By contrast, people with a fixed mindset often let their black-and-white way of thinking obstruct their development. If they fail at something, they bury their heads in the sand or blame others. They hope for everlasting love in their relationships rather than working on the relationships themselves.
Our mindset shapes whether we believe we can learn and change and grow – or not.