Summary: Discover the power of paradoxes in challenging our assumptions and expanding our perspective. Learn how to nurture a growth mindset through humility and an open mind. Explore a practical exercise to examine your beliefs and break free from self-imposed limitations. 3 Minute Read
Life in Contrasts
If you have been following this newsletter and my social media content, you may have noticed I like to write about paradoxes.
Paradoxes represent contrasts and, to me, life itself is a continuous series of contrasts that shape our view of the world.
What do I mean by that? Think about it.
How can you truly understand what love is unless you’ve experienced heartbreak?
How can you appreciate genuine joy without first enduring immense suffering?
How can you know the real meaning of success without having tasted failure?
How can you fully value your health without first experiencing sickness?
As human beings, we are limited by our own perspectives. We simply know what we know.
At times, it can be challenging to break free from our bubbles and gain a broader outlook.
This is why people can complain about the food at an all inclusive resort in the Caribbean, while children scrape the bottom of public trash cans just a few miles away.
I always try to empathize with all individuals. I believe there is power in a non-judgmental approach when trying to understand someone’s actions, reactions, attitude, and opinions.
We are all influenced by our environment, and understanding this concept can increase our compassion and empathy toward other human beings.
Recognizing that life is filled with inherent contrasts can be a valuable starting point to developing and nurturing this perspective.
If we were exposed to more contrasts during childhood, it would likely lead us to live a more balanced and harmonious life.
Contrasts surround us. Our lives, from childhood to adulthood, are about discovering these opposites and forming our own views of the world.
The Power Behind Paradoxes & A Growth Mindset
Life is paradoxical, and paradoxes happen to be my favorite types of contrasts.
I believe there’s immense power in examining something we take for a fact, to realize that our understanding of the concept was flawed all along.
The liberation that comes with understanding paradoxes is mind-blowing. It is a very humbling experience.
I’m also a strong advocate for nurturing a growth mindset, which is the belief that our qualities and skills can be improved through effort and practice.
Nurturing a growth mindset requires both humility and an open mind. It’s simply not possible without them.
Humility is essential to achieve continuous learning, as you must never consider yourself superior. When we see ourselves above others, we fail to appreciate the true value they offer.
An open mind is equally important. When we take something as certain, without leaving any room for exploration, our world just becomes a whole lot smaller.
With that said, how can paradoxes help us develop a growth mindset?
By exploring and understanding them, we come to the conclusion that even the things we take for facts can often be challenged and proven wrong.
Here’s a story that will help illustrate this concept and apply it to your own life.
The Closed Jar Effect
A group of people locked a group of bees inside a jar and closed the lid.
The jar was left closed for 48 hours, and during this time the bees kept flying up trying to escape without success.
After the two days passed, they opened the lid offering the bees a clear path out of their enclosure.
To everyone’s surprise, none of the bees flew out. In such a short period of time, these bees were conditioned to believe in a new reality, one that limited them.
A belief, established in a matter of hours, shaped the bees’ view of their world, hindering their ability to fly.
The lesson is this:
Repeated exposure to negative or uncontrollable situations can lead to a belief that escape or change is impossible, even once circumstances change.
Our own beliefs and perceptions can shape our reality and either limit or expand our capabilities.
The stories you choose to believe are the stories that will shape your life!
Take some time to examine your own beliefs and challenge any self-imposed limitations that may be hindering your personal growth and development.
A Practical Exercise
Think about someone you have known for a long time. I encourage you to challenge your assumptions about this person.
Is there something you have taken for granted that may not be true?
Extend this exercise to anything or anyone else in your life. Ask yourself, ‘What am I missing here? What haven’t I seen before?’
Even during mundane tasks like brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, practice asking yourself this question. ‘What is here that I may have never noticed before?’
Live your life with a heightened sense of curiosity, always seeking novelty in the familiar. Challenge your assumptions by learning to find the new in the old, and the old in the new.
This week’s newsletter is aimed to inspire some deep reflections within you.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself, ‘Is everything I think I know true? Are my beliefs absolute facts, or am I leaving room for exploration?’
An open mind, by definition, is the willingness to consider something without prejudice, to keep the door open for exploration.
The wisest thing we can do is know enough to know that we don’t know. Read that sentence again…
If we approach life with a sense of “maybe” instead of holding firm convictions, we’re likely to experience continuous personal growth.
Why? Because we train our minds to perceive learning opportunities all around us.
We also cultivate a receptive attitude, always open to learning from anyone and anything at any given moment.
There are no absolute rights or wrongs in life.
Being aware of this is essential to understand how you can literally shape your reality.
I hope today’s insights empower you to take control of your life.