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Mastering the Art of Mindset: Reflecting on 2023's Lessons and Opportunities

"Embrace the small moments, master your mindset, thrive in chaos." ateducation

The year 2023 is almost behind, and that means it's time to reflect. Okay then, so let's see what the year 2023 has brought to the table. The more I read and listen to different people from various fields, the more convinced I become that our current environment is deceptive, and the challenge lies in the quick reset of human reward systems. What was a fantastic surprise yesterday becomes insufficient and unsatisfying today. I believe many of us can agree with this statement. That's why my own thinking has shifted more and more towards enjoying the small things found in everyday activities.


In the bigger picture, this realization should force us to concentrate not only on our work and careers but also on managing our feelings and, consequently, our behavior. Individuals with a balanced life and skills to manage stress levels can be productive while spending less time on their "must-do" tasks. That´s why Finnish schools should and must bring this into more use in classrooms and pedagogical leadership layers. Fortunately, we have all the tools highlighted in the National Curriculum, so the final step is to put them into continuous and systematic use.


The common obstacles we face are time and stress:


  • The first obstacle, called TIME, always seems to pop up. If you're interested in diving deeper into this topic, you can do so here.

  • The second, unfortunately rising to a greater extent, is stress—a common companion in our fast-paced lives with far-reaching consequences. It makes us less empathic, less tolerant, and less willing to take another person's perspective.

Does someone still think that we do not need to systematically practice social and emotional skills during every lesson or at least school days?

Positive thinking is basically wishful thinking or is it?

In Finland, we use to say that "positivity is shit." It seems that human brains are inclined to think negatively because of the nature of inner defense mechanisms. This is why we need to put time and effort into teaching our brains to challenge this bias. On the other hand, positive emotions are the catalyst for creativity. That's why cultivating a positive emotional state could lead to our most innovative ideas or, at the very least, keep our cognitive vision much broader, allowing us to see possible successful outcomes.


So, what's wrong with Finnish schools, where too many education professionals are ready to change their field of work? This phenomenon does not coincide with the results in which Finland is cited as the happiest country in the world to live. I would argue that even professionals who are well equipped in human development have been blinded to the quick reset of the human reward system effect mentioned earlier and forgot to pay attention and develop our own skill toolkit, including time management, communication, decision-making, stress management, and, most importantly, perspective-taking.


The mindset is everything:


1)      Controlling the outcome and owning the process are powerful aspects of professional growth. Equally important is controlling our mindset. Are we forced to do a job, or do we choose to do the work? Shifting from a "have to" to a "get to" mindset profoundly impacts our inner states of feelings.

2)      Turning job tasks into adventures may not make every task fun, but it can significantly impact our ability to navigate overwhelming situations. This mindset shift can make accomplishments more achievable.

3)      Practicing prioritization on what is important and needed. For example, this is why the conventional and widely used "To-do list" approach can backfire. Undone or half-done tasks pile up, leading to reduced productivity and increased stress levels. Doing less can paradoxically result in being more effective. A functional brain is more desirable than an overloaded one.

In conclusion, let's shift the focus back to the role of education in societal growth and resilience, where schools play a pivotal role. Teaching individuals to recognize the role of chance and external factors in their lives can reshape societal perspectives toward greater equality and compassion. Slowing the pace and focusing on the present moment become essential elements in this transformative journey.

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