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Mindset Matters: Weekly Column by Prajesh

Lessons in Chemistry: A Scientific Recipe for Living

Lessons in Chemistry: A Scientific Recipe for Living

A few weeks ago I completed reading “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. This was meant to be a gift to a colleague but she already owned a copy. She instead challenged me to read it and wanted to hear my thoughts about it as a male reader. I thought this was a very interesting comment.

As I enjoy reading I didn’t think too much about this comment. However, as I started reading something in this book struck a chord. I ended up taking loads of notes as I read this book. Over the Easter weekend these notes formed the backbone of this week’s newsletter.

I hope you enjoy the ten experiments that I found in the book that can be introduced to any aspect of your life. Each “experiment” has been inspired by something I read in the book. (Sorry…not sorry… about the spoilers for those of you that have not read the book!!)


Experiment #1: Embrace the Disruption

“Courage is the root of change – and change is what we’re chemically designed to do.”

Elizabeth Zott thrives on defying expectations. She dismantles molecules with the same fervour as societal norms. The takeaway for us? Don’t be afraid to shake things up in your life! Is there a stagnant routine you can disrupt? A limiting belief you can challenge? Even small changes can spark a ripple effect of positive transformations.

Exercise: Conduct a life audit. Identify areas where you feel stuck or uninspired. Brainstorm ways to inject some novelty. Can you take a new route on your morning walk? Can you learn a new skill you’ve always been curious about? Embrace the discomfort of growth!

Experiment #2: Learn from the Fallout

“Unlike ink, graphite is erasable. People make mistakes, Mr. Roth. Pencil allows one to clear the mistake and move on.”

Life, like science, is full of experiments, some successful, some yielding unexpected results. Mistakes are inevitable, but they are also valuable learning opportunities.

Exercise: Reflect on a past misstep. Analyse the situation. What went wrong? What could you have done differently? More importantly, how can you leverage this knowledge to navigate future challenges with greater wisdom?

Experiment #3: Question the Perfect Picture

“That’s the hydrogen bond for you, ladies – a chemical reminder that if things seem too good to be true, they probably are.”

Elizabeth Zott approaches seemingly perfect situations with a dose of healthy scepticism. Apply this critical thinking to your life. Don’t be swept away by the allure of a picture-perfect relationship or a seemingly effortless solution to a problem. Investigate, analyse, and trust your gut.

Exercise: Before making a major life decision, take a step back. Consider all angles. Research potential consequences. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and seek out diverse perspectives.

Experiment #4: The Never-Ending Reaction

“Do not share this fact with Mrs. Mudford… What she doesn’t know, she can find out. This is not an opinion; it’s a fact.”

Just as a scientist is perpetually curious, a life well-lived is a journey of continuous learning. Never stop expanding your knowledge and enriching your experiences.

Exercise: Embrace a growth mindset. Explore online courses on topics that pique your interest. Read books outside your comfort zone. Engage in conversations with people from different backgrounds. The more you learn, the richer your life becomes.

Experiment #5: Design Your Own Molecule

“Whenever you feel afraid, just remember… Design your own future.”

Elizabeth Zott, with unwavering determination, charts her own scientific course. Similarly, you have the power to design your ideal life. Take charge and map out your path.

Exercise: Create a vision board that embodies your dream life. Include aspects of personal growth, meaningful relationships, and fulfilling experiences. Identify the steps you need to take to bridge the gap between your current reality and your aspirational future. Remember, you are the architect of your own happiness!

Experiment #6: Find Your Catalyst

“Every reaction needs a catalyst.”

Sometimes, we all need a spark to ignite our passions. Find the people, places, or experiences that motivate and inspire you. Surround yourself with positive influences who challenge you to be your best self.

Exercise: Reflect on who or what energises you. Make a conscious effort to incorporate these catalysts into your life. Join a club, attend a workshop, or reconnect with an inspiring friend.

Experiment #7: Embrace the Messy Mixture

“The beauty of chemistry is that unlike baking, there are often multiple ways to achieve the desired outcome.”

Life is rarely a linear path. There will be unexpected twists, turns, and spills along the way. Learn to embrace the messy mixture. Rigidity and inflexibility can stifle growth. Instead, adapt to changing circumstances, find creative solutions to unforeseen problems, and celebrate the unexpected beauty of a non-linear journey.

Exercise: Reflect on a past time where your plans went awry. Did the unexpected turn of events ultimately lead to a positive outcome or a valuable learning experience? Practice going with the flow and adapting to life’s messy mixtures.

Experiment #8: Conduct a Titration of Gratitude

“Gratitude is a solution that dilutes negativity and envy.”

Elizabeth Zott fiercely guards her independence and avoids envy. Instead, she focuses on appreciating the good things in life. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Savour the small joys, appreciate the people around you, and acknowledge your accomplishments.

Exercise: Start a gratitude journal. Every day, write down three things you’re grateful for, big or small. This simple practice can significantly improve your overall happiness.

Experiment #9: Refine Your Filter

“Science is about asking questions. Not blindly accepting what everyone else tells you.”

Just as a scientist filters solutions to isolate key elements, learn to filter information in your life. Develop your critical thinking skills. Don’t blindly accept everything you hear or see. Question assumptions, research information, and form your own well-informed opinions.

Exercise: When presented with new information, take a moment to pause and reflect. Consider the source, research alternative perspectives, and form your own conclusions.

Experiment #10: Celebrate the Unexpected Elements

“Sometimes the most transformative discoveries are made by accident.”

Some of the most ground-breaking scientific discoveries were accidental. Similarly, life throws unexpected curveballs that can lead to positive outcomes. Learn to embrace the unexpected.

Exercise: Reflect on a past unexpected event. Did it ultimately lead to a positive outcome or a new direction in your life? Approach future surprises with an open mind and a sense of adventure.

Life, much like chemistry, is a tapestry woven from countless elements, reactions, and transformations. I hope as you conclude this week’s newsletter you can embrace at least one of these “experiments” so you can approach your life with curiosity, courage, a relentless pursuit of growth, and a dash of healthy scepticism.

… and remember to take notes the next time you read a book that may blow your mind!

Yours in all things mindset


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