An open mindset allows us to view our abilities and skills as fluid (they can change and improve), rather than being fixed, believing it is what it is and we can’t do anything about it. When it comes to incorporating anything into our lifestyles, easy or not, having an open mindset will make it much more manageable. When we believe our abilities can change, grow and improve, or when we’re open to new experiences and see challenges as opportunities we tend to find getting involved much easier.
We might have haunting memories of PE lessons from our childhoods, or tried running a few times and simply hated it, or maybe we feel like we don’t have time to exercise around everything else we’re doing. We get that, but cultivating this open mindset can encourage to try new ideas for moving, can help us squeeze a simple routine into our day and even help us realise that exercise isn’t a PE lesson anymore - we adults, we’re unsupervised, we don’t have a teacher telling us that we’ll being doing interpretive ribbon dancing for the next 40 minutes!
So how do we cultivate an open mindset?
Embrace imperfections - they are not failures
We don’t have to be brilliant at everything we do. In fact, we don’t even have to be that ‘good’ at it if we’re enjoying it and it’s getting us moving more, that’s the real goal. Any yoga newbies will confirm, everyone falls over at first (even the experts) - but who cares? Our running technique might not be that of Mo Farah, perhaps we’re more like Phoebe in Friends, dashing through the park with windmilling arms but we’re moving (possibly more). Allow the imperfections and have a laugh at them. We’ll slowly improve with practice and having fun makes the experience more enjoyable!
See obstacles as opportunities - not barriers
Many of us get put-off by obstacles or challenges, especially when it comes to exercise. Maybe we’ve thought boxercise is too intense or we’ve got two left feet so that street dance class is a no-go. If we think of these obstacles as opportunities, we might find we’re the forgotten member of Diversity, or actually in the making of a heavy-weight champion all along. Or we might make a total fool out of ourselves and never return, but the more we open up to trying, the more we’ll learn about what works for us.
Value the process - not just the end result
When we’re focused on the end result, like weight loss goals or being the fittest, we tend to feel more defeated when we’ve not immediately got abs after that core blast workout, or if the inches haven’t just melted away, it can be harder to feel committed. By valuing the process, focusing on how each workout or stretch session feels, physically and mentally, we’re more likely to feel motivated, committed and possibly even excited to go again tomorrow. We don’t have to be reaching for milestone goals, tiny goals all add up.
Reflect often - rather than rushing to the next thing to do
It might sound wishy-washy to look back and reflect, but it gives us an opportunity to see where we can grow even further and recognise how far we’ve come. Even if it’s only been a week, there’ll be subtle changes we wouldn’t necessarily notice without a little reflective time. Are we finding it easier to drift off to sleep? Can we run up a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath? Managed to do our first ever pull-up in the gym (this is huge!)? Or, are we beginning to enjoy moving more?
Mindset mastery: even with a wide-open mindset, we’re not going to enjoy every sport, want to try every trending fitness regime, or even want to exercise everyday. But it will help to take the pressure off, to encourage us to move at least a little bit each day, and make it all more enjoyable - even if you’re running like Phoebe Buffay. Keep changing it up and finding new ways to enjoy exercise a little bit more, and remember it’s ok when you find something that isn’t for you!