How our mindset influences outcomes

On some days, I wake up in the morning and go through the day feeling like I can take on anything the world could throw at me. On other days, I may feel insignificant or lost. From these experiences, I’ve realized that having a positive mindset is not only a huge contributor toward achieving success, but it makes everyday tasks (going to school, doing homework, etc.) seem easy to accomplish.

Students face many pressures: maintaining your grades, submitting college applications, meeting parents’ expectations, and maintaining friend relationships. Top the list off with the daily or weekly tests and quizzes in math, the 10 league meets in the season and the club meetings at lunch, and you’re left with a pretty daunting load. At this point you can either complain and despair over the workload believing you’ll fail, or you can confront it and finish it knowing that you’ll pull through.

At some point, we’ve been ambivalent when you reached that junction. The day before my huge ecology biology test, I had just finished an 8 mile workout for practice. I had to finish several pages of math homework, read and write analysis on an English paragraph, finish a Spanish project, and study a ream of biology notes. I shuffled into Ms. Morgan’s room the next day running on 4 hours of sleep and a unsteady stomach. As the answers sheets came down my row, I gave in. I told myself that this test contained way too much information, that I didn’t study enough, and that I was dumb. Why bother? I’m bound to fail.

I did poorly on that test. Now that I look back it, I realized that the instant I said I was going to fail, the amount of effort that I was going to put into the test dropped from 100 percent to one percent.  My brain simply refused to thoroughly read the questions and answer them.

It’s easy to slip into the mindset that you don’t have the ability to accomplish such huge tasks, especially when stress is compounded. But you’re setting the standard lower than before. You’re chaining yourself to excuses and placing mental barriers in front of yourself.

So I decided to try something new. During a Track league meet against Los Altos, I told myself that I will succeed in breaking my personal record (PR). I told myself the same thing through all four laps, 80 something degrees, and 5 minutes and 5 seconds. And in the end, I did succeed; I broke my PR. At that moment, I felt as if I had a real taste of freedom, and I knew what it meant to have a positive mindset.

A positive mindset is a belief that one’s life will turn out favorably without allowing negative thoughts to erode that belief. When you focus on the good, you’re not trying to overcome barriers; you’re aiming for what is beyond those barriers. Your productivity, optimism, and most of all, motivation, drastically increase because you know you can do it.  

Maintaining a positive mindset has been shown to come with a myriad of benefits. Not only do you feel more focused and optimistic, but you can function and perform harder better in the classroom, on the field, and at home. A positive mentality also decreases stress and reduces the chance of heart disease and high blood pressure in the future.

It may be difficult to focus on light with all the challenges in our lives. But perhaps, by taking a step today with a positive mindset, we can overcome these challenges. And with that, there’s nothing holding us back.


By Phillip Leung, Production lead
Photo by Angela Cao

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