“Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do.”
—Bruce Lee

Mindsets frame our view of the world, and determine how we behave and interact with others. They are our attitudes, our prejudices and our dispositions. Some of us have a positive mindset, some have a sceptical mindset. Some have an independent and resourceful mindset, others constantly seek reassurance and guidance.

I regularly share links that I find interesting on Facebook. Generally, it’s posts on improving lifestyle in some way: productivity, thriftiness, autonomy etc. A follower recently commented on a couple of posts from other blogs I shared, saying that the ideas presented were obvious, too obvious to even require mentioning.

A lot of the information around us is obvious.

It’s obvious that if you eat a lot of junk and don’t keep active, you’ll get fat and eventually sick too. It’s obvious that if you work too much and for too long, without taking time to unwind and be with friends and family, you’ll burn-out. It’s obvious that if you spend more than you have, you’ll eventually go into debt. It’s obvious, yet so often we ignore these, and so many other obvious messages and continually make decisions that are not in our best interests, or that conflict with our goals.

If something is obvious to you then it means you can understand it. But understanding an idea is not the same as agreeing with it, applying it to yourself and making it a part of how you approach daily situations. For that, it has to become part of your mindset—how you think.

What this really boils down to is habit. Most of our actions are based on habit . We very rarely stop and think through what we’re doing, if there’s a better way to do it, or if there’s something else we’d be better doing. We don’t have the energy to pay that sort of attention to everything we do. Instead we’ll usually do what comes naturally to us. Mindsets are habits too, habitual ways of thinking.

To form new, better habits, and replace the old, unhelpful ones, it takes much more than just hearing or reading an idea once, no matter how well you understand it or how obvious it sounds. A single book, conversation, thought, blog post or tweet isn’t going to do it. It takes constant reiteration, covering the same idea again and again, looking at it from different angles and exploring it in depth before you’ll start to change how you think and behave.

Marketers know this only too well. Have you ever noticed when you watch an hour-long TV show, that the same adverts appear two or even three times in one hour? It’s not because someone got lazy with the scheduling - there’s far too much money at stake for that! It’s because marketers know that you’re probably not going to rush out and buy their product after hearing about it only once. But by repeatedly exposing you to the same suggestion, through time, something will eventually stick. Your mindset about their product will change.

Similarly, if there’s something in your life you’d like to change, if you want to become more productive, better with money, less stressed or anxious, funnier, more caring and empathetic, it takes time and effort. Read about the topic, don’t just buy one book, buy three! Search online for other people who have more experience and read what they have to say. Discuss the idea with your friends, colleagues and family.

The more you expose yourself to ideas and ways to make positive change, the more food for thought you give your mind to grow in that area, and for your brain to physically change. Something will stick. Eventually, you’ll find yourself thinking in new ways, coming up with ideas and insights of your own.