Why Your Mindset Matters

Did you know that lawyers are 3.6x more likely to become depressed than any other person of the working population?

Why is that? Don’t lawyers have all the ‘necessary’ things in life? High levels of education, lots of money rolling in, high social status.

Back at law schools, the aspiring lawyer begins to learn critical analysis. He learns to poke holes in cases, looks for weaknesses and flaws in arguments…

They learn a negative mindset.

Lawyers have trained and as a result re-wired their brains to scan legal documents for mistakes and errors. The same with tax auditors – they scan tax forms for errors and mistakes.

They scan everything through a critical lens. In fact, some lawyers think of spending time with their loved ones in terms of billable hours.

They’re so entrenched in their negative mindset that they enjoy a lot of success in the workplace. But through years and years of training they’ve rewired their brain in a way that’s not helping them in their personal lives.

So just by working you’re learning a specific mindset.

Athletes learn a competitive mindset that helps them succeed in their sport but they can’t stop competing with their friends. Financial traders can’t stop assessing risk in everything they do. And managers actually manage their children.

So you see how your mindset can change without you even noticing and it can happen just by being employed.

Our mindset can be easily manipulated

Our mindset can be manipulated so easily that Just by changing one word you can change your entire behavior.

In one experiment, a group of participants were asked to play either the “Wall Street Game” or the “Community Game”. And this was the same one game, just named in two different ways.

Participants that played the Community Game would help each other out when playing it.

They were primed to think of community, cooperation, and helping each other out to achieve a common goal.

The people that played the “Wall Street” on the other hand were more egoistic and competitive, and they would actually pounce on the opportunity to exploit any sort of cooperation.

This is an example of our stereotypical view of Wall Street and how it can influence our own behaviour.

You will be a happier person if you interpret events in a way that is most beneficial to you

Speaking of framing, why are bronze medalists happier than silver medalists?

Silver medalists frame the situation that if they had performed a little bit better, then they would have won the gold.

Bronze medalists on the other hand think that if they had done slightly worse – they wouldn’t have won anything at all.

Framing things positively can make a huge difference.

If you think you’re an unlucky person, you will fail to notice the opportunities that present themself to you

Just by thinking you’re a lucky person can help you take advantage of 100% more opportunities than people that think they are unlucky.

In one experiment, people had to read through a newspaper and count how many photos there were in it.

There were two groups: people that thought they were lucky, and those that felt they were unlucky.

The lucky people did the task in only a few seconds.

The unlucky people took around two minutes.

On the second page of the newspaper there was a large message saying ‘stop counting, there are 43 photos in the newspaper”.

This message took up half of the space on the page and was written in a type that was over 2 inches (5cm). The people that thought they weren’t lucky didn’t even notice this.

If the experimenter put another large message halfway into the newspaper but this time it read “stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250”, the unlucky people still didn’t notice that message.

Imagine how this translates into real life, where there are so many opportunities around you, but you don’t notice them.

Even if opportunities fall right into your lap, you won’t do anything with the opportunities because you just don’t have the right mindset.

The reason people who think they are unlucky miss so many opportunities

So why does this happen to unlucky people? What’s wrong with them?

There isn’t anything wrong with them per se but unlucky people tend to be more anxious and it’s been shown that anxiety stops you from noticing the unexpected.

Unlucky people also tend to focus too hard on looking for something else. This way they miss out on a lot of things.

For instance, they go to parties to look for the perfect partner and miss out on the opportunity to make good friends. Lucky people are more relaxed and open to a variety of different opportunities.

P.S. Thanks for reading. If you liked this, feel free to sign up to my free weekly newsletter for more psychological insights into everyday life.


This blogpost was inspired by the research mentioned in Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage”.



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