What does it mean to have a flexible mindset? Experts argue that people who have this unique quality can manage shifting demands, reconfigure their minds, adjust their overarching perspective about things, and combat the kind of bad thoughts that tend to get the rest of the world into trouble (Chun-Hui, et. al, Flexible mindset in the family: Filial piety, cognitive flexibility, and general mental health ). In simple terms, a flexible mindset is the ability to adjust no matter the situation. When we struggle or make a mistake, we learn from it.
Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of having a flexible mindset.
Awareness of Choices
People with a flexible mindset can respond to activities or changes that occur in their environment. They know that they can make choices and that there are options no matter what situation they face. When people struggle to adjust to a particular event, we refer to it as being inflexible. Think of it as being confronted with the same challenges every day of your life. People who have a flexible mindset will look for alternative ways to address or navigate the situation in a manner that is effective and physically or mentally safe. Those who are not flexible will not look for alternative solutions or recognize that they have a choice.
Individuals who have a flexible mindset are able to adapt to their situation. They recognize that there are environmental factors that they have to consider. They also recognize the challenges they may have to be prepared for and are able to adapt to their environment.
If you are flexible, you recognize that there are definitely environmental factors that may interfere with the task you need to complete, but those factors do not necessarily need to stop you.
For example, think about a time when you had to go to the grocery store, but in the midst of your journey there, it started raining. You might have turned on the wipers in your car, parked close to the entrance to reduce the amount of time you had to be out in the weather, and used your umbrella to walk from your car to the store to keep your body from getting wet.
This scenario is an example in which you had to adapt to your environment and still manage to get the task done.
People who possess a flexible mindset often have a strong belief in their ability to adapt to different situations. They usually have this belief about themselves because in their history they have consistently practiced this and they have also learned this from others. Do not think of this as being a facet of arrogance so much as a quality of confidence.
According to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, there is evidence that people who have a flexible mindset can communicate with others more effectively—this is most important, of course, with those who are closest to them. This skillset is particularly important when you need to express to others what you are feeling, or when you need to share how another person’s actions have negatively or positively impacted you.
To improve your flexible mindset skills, you will more than likely have to practice. This practice includes exposing yourself to changing situations that require you to adapt, use communication skills, and make difficult decisions. You have to gain confidence in your knowledge, skills, and ability to navigate these situations. This cannot be accomplished without practice. Finally, to have a flexible mindset you must shift your attention. This can be difficult for those who prefer to focus on one thing in a given moment.