Play and Enjoy Growth Mindset Golf for Sheer Delight!

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Thoreau may have best described golf when he said: An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Growth Mindset golf would add, Discover inner strength with every shot that improves your game, fulfills your potential to play well, and ensures fun!

We can discover our golf genius with a few neural or growth mindset golf moves!

Most agree that golf’s a cerebral game, so it makes sense to play with more brainpower in mind. For instance, a fixed mindset feigns excuses for  wonky shots, blames poor efforts on anything but attitude, excuses miss-shots  and acts out ways to block hidden abilities while failing to pick up our game after failed attempts. As I wrote my newest book on growth mindset for teens and the rest of us, I recognized how my golf sometimes slips into a fixed and rigid mindset out on the links.

Book written for teens and reportedly read by all!

Luckily, whenever we recognize a fixed mindset we are ready to rearrange our thinking from fixed to include fun and growth adjustments. A newly shaped growth mindset puts us back and better off than ever.

How can we tell if our golf is in fixed or growth mindset? If we hear ourselves telling another golfer how new we are, how badly we shoot or how poorly we score, our problem may well be more mindset than actual golf skills.

Luckily we grow 90% more by stepping up to act on what we know, than naming or complaining about what we don’t yet know. For instance, model for others what we learn ourselves, as we enjoy focused shots for sheer delight. The following article is part of a new book about avoiding anxiety that holds us back, and 50 brain based tools that move us mentally and emotionally from fear into fun and freedom.

Lesser known is the fact that stress-free (or growth mindset) golf benefits us mentally, and emotionally if we compete only against ourselves in ways that make swings toxic free. Yes, a growth mindset nudges anxiety out of play, and we stop comparing our skills to others,  as we begin to literally raise our golf IQ. Check out image above for a three-bulleted growth mindset, anxiety-free algorithm. It shifts our focus off other players, and only wishes the best for all golfers, as we confidently grow our skills alongside them.

1.Shoot for a higher target than we typically land, not what others’ land. Need a birdie to remain under par? Then  shoot for an eagle. Without anxiety, our brain leaps to challenges and can create new synapses that stretch our swings to the next level. From that first shot off the tee, stress free golfers capitalize on kinesthetic intelligence and naturalistic intelligence.  Without anxiety, our growth mindset game literally adds brain chemicals for sharper focus. A growing body of research suggests how golf links can hold mental benefits for emotions and brains, beyond what most golfers realize. Perhaps more even than rich alliances and friendships gained on the course, golf keeps us in top mental form, if we compete against self only, avoid fixed mindset tendencies and congratulate others to ensure we enjoy the fun of growing alongside every level of player.

2. Laugh lots and make light of our missed shots. Not only does that help others relax while we learn, it opens our growth mindset and ensures sheer enjoyment regardless of how we are hitting. To keep serotonin high for the next good whack, use laughter as a fuel for a better ride on the next round. According to this YouTube video a new hazard – a fox – is now in full operation at Missoula, Montana Golf Course, near Clark Fork River Lodge. This fifteen pound red fox  is outwitting golfers at almost every hole and its fairways heists keep the most serious golfers in stitches.  It seems the little hoodwink fox is seen as a nuisance to a few poor sports yet laughed at by most golfers at the club, who take their shot and then take their chances against the 4-footed thief. What makes you laugh before you swing? Will fellow golfers be blessed because of the fun we add to their game and ours? If so, we are likely setting aside anxiety for the joy of awe in a game we love! If not, why not keep track of our words spoken on the course and laughter we trigger for golf fun and growth.

3. Conquer one hole at a time, and do not compare our game to others’ good shots. Not only will others feel less anxiety, but we will bank extra points for the tougher holes! With each growth mindset shot we bank our serotonin deposit in the right place, so we’ll relax to ward off stress before we swing for harder holes. Cortisol chemicals escalate a fixed mindset and ruins our efforts! If we feel envious of another’s swing, or angry at our own missed shot, we stop growing our inner strengths. A surge in brains under anxiety’s pressure works against our golf skills, and negatively affects fellow golfers’ games. If we get better shots on the front nine, for instance, we can work harder for fewer strokes, and then treat the back nine as our learning curve, when stress stays at bay. Challenges that often don’t exist in the first 9 holes tend to pop in the last 9 to give us practice shot opportunities from many angles, if we can snip our amygdala and deliberately leave anxiety behind before we even start the game. Rather than resent the back 9 – we can see it as a way to improve our stress-free brains for a better game.  Now there’s a hole-in-one-thought that offers us practice opportunities to grow new skills and encourage every fellow golfer to do the same. If we start our game with this winning plan in mind  it will help us to keep our head down and swing through though –  while being kind to ourselves and others, even on the back nine!

4. Watch fellow players and expect growth regardless of age. If we avoid feeling jealous of any other golfers, or anxious because we compare ourselves to their expertise, we set the stage for going to school on another’s good shots. Our brain comes equipped with mirror neurons and we can improve our golf skills and optimize our brainpower for better swings at any age or level of play. Simply observe what swings work well for others, while remembering to congratulate them when the swing goes well. That anxiety free state frees us to golf well in the worst of times.

In spite of a recent bout with cancer, Marjorie Brewer at  60, still swings a driver like a pro and putts like a metronome. She’s out four times a week near the grounds of her law office, and other golfers love to play with her. People far younger struggle to keep up in one of the persistent mysteries of even an aging brain.  Marjorie found there are tremendous health care benefits to doing what she loves most and doing it without anxiety. No wonder golf helps her health to improve, and others enjoy the ride. But golfers also see and learn from Marjorie’s high-performance mind for golf that keeps improving with use. In much the same way, at 58, Murray Jensen expected golf and his healthy attitude to help his brain to show positive effects of  sheer fun, in spite of cardiovascular disease.  Murray’s doctor seemed surprised by the mental progress and new alertness that boosted Murray’s once frail health. What could a golf game do for our  minds if we leave behind comparison, fear, or anxiety and play for fun and delight?

5. Spot and name possibilities rather than dwell on challenges. Focus on new developments for our swing, and our brains begin to overcome difficulties that impede our swing. When others hear us speaking growth, and fun, and possibilities – their games also improve through serotonin we toss out and anxiety we refuse. When one hit or putt fails, the anxious-free mind will focus more on improving the next shot – perhaps with a different club. This might be a good time to watch for a fine shot to the tee others made as a way to encourage serotonin into the round. Regardless of how many obstacles may impede our swing, plan another brisk round of golf’s sheer adventure and we will add new skills to our cache. See the opportunity in spite of any difficulties and golf’s mental tonic becomes our treat. How so? Golf allows us to capitalize on kinesthetic intelligence and it develops a better brain for other life-challenges and for balance in other areas of our lives, than most golfers realize. It helps us to mentor others in ways that add fun and not frustration to their challenges.

6. Risk new moves or settings to gain another skill with each game. Try a new approach rather than fall into the brain’s penchant to default for mental ruts and repeat the same mistakes on a difficult hole. Put yourself into a tournament, or play with far better players without demeaning their game by comparisons, and we win regardless of any shots we miss. Think back to a recent lesson, or to a golf tip we heard, and deliberately give it a shot. Laugh at the results and try again! The human brain performs better with novelty and risk. When we consider long term benefits that follow from risk and novelty we’ll likely find courage to move our golf skills to the next level. Worth the risk?

7. Pack brain food and walk rather than ride to keep up mental and emotional energy. Do whatever it takes to keep it fun for all. Plan ahead! Be deliberate!  Improve our stamina with movement and mental nutrition during our next game. Expect our nourished brain to remain fast, our swings to stay strong and our mind to come alert for delight and fun in new challenges, while we build new neuron pathways to golf skills for lower scores and less anxiety. Interestingly, the brain demands 21 percent of the entire oxygen to our body?  Not surprisingly when we move more through walking, we enrich that supply and add to our brain’s potential to sidestep stress and help other golfers do the same.

8. Swing as if to win a top tournament and then laugh at results! Be ready to accept mishaps as if they didn’t matter a wit, so that other golfers can enjoy whatever shot they made. Why? We know from neurogenesis that people improve their lot by beliefs moved into winning tasks. We also know that self-competition rather than pitting our skills against others, reshapes human brains when golfers act to improve their own skills and encourage others good shots. How so? Swing those extra yards, putt a finer approach, Angle a better loft, or chip into the cup, and we literally reshape our brain chemically and electrically for higher intelligence.  Even simple competitive practice, can alter our brainwaves up or down for magic or misery. Choose magic in spite of where the shot lands!

9. Support peers and practice thankfulness so that others  can also begin another anxiety free round. Encouragement to ourselves and our fellow golfers adds serotonin and well being to every round of golf – those that go well, and those that don’t. How so? Serotonin opens new ideas and possibilities, when we need help most. This hormone for well-being is essential to a good game and it is increased on the links when we simply expect it to help ourselves and others out. Deliberately build more serotonin mental-well-being on the golf course today… by wishing others well as they approach the tee.  Imagine great shots whenever we take another swing, say and apply the three step algorithm, and refuse to focus on bad shots or others nearby. It takes reminders to our brains until we form growth mindset habits of playing without stressing.  Look forward in favor of a lesson learned for the next mentally controlled swing.

10. Compete against our own game and cheer on others at every round. Whenever we focus too much on another golfer’s good score, regret over our own is sure to leave our own next shot short. Others also pick up on the anxiety that stress adds to the game for all. Regret prevents skill growth. Rather than fight despair by comparing our own struggles to another person’s wins, it’s better to mentally spike each swing in ways that improve our weaker moves, and build on growing strengths. The next time we grab a box of our favorite golf balls and head out for the links, let’s visualize that best shot from the tee, and then compete against that shot for golf that follows from a high performance mind we’ll all enjoy on the tee.

Ready to go for a golf game well under par? Enjoy this ready to use –  growth mindset golf curriculum to help novice golfers and mentor ourselves with fully functioning brains in mind. It’s all in a growth mindset focus of three bulleted images and then acting on all three. How so?

Focus on three bullets below, by naming each and visualizing each before you swing all the way from this algorithmic swing onto the final green. With bullet 1)

1. HEAD DOWN (we connect the ball to the club’s sweet spot.)

With bullet 2).

2. SWEEP THE FLOOR (we move the club along the grass in an easy stroke, rather than hammer or clomp down on the ball.)

With bullet 3).

3. VEE IT THROUGH (we position both arms in Vee shape and swing our Vee all the way through to ensure a longer, and straighter shot. )

While I have learned to laugh at my wonkier shots into a tree or under a shrub, I also win tournaments when I remember to golf with a growth mindset, and focus on three bullets with EVERY shot. I also reflect after each missed shot to identify which of 3 bullets, I missed.

  1. If I miss or top a ball I missed HEAD DOWN action
  2. If I chop at or clomp down On grass, I missed SWEEP THE FLOOR action.
  3. If my shot falls shorter than intended, I missed VEE IT THROUGH action.

To spot what I missed is to rewire my brain for the next awesome, tournament-worthy shot. You?

I just returned from a three day grace-mindset and golf retreat in Banff, Alberta where we grew golf skills and grace-mindset tips. . What’s your best growth mindset golf strategy?

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