Can Growth Really Make Us Happy?

According to William Yeats,  “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” p 66. Rubin.


This caught my attention …

Because I am in pursuit of what can make a difference for nurses to individually find happiness, satisfaction and meaning in our most honorable work and mission.

This is important to me for my own life and work, for all the nurses I know, and for the nurses to be (my daughter and all others).

Growth? …. How?


Gretchen Rubin found the importance of growth in her search for happiness, “The Happiness Project” (2015).   She asked her dad (who had been a long time tennis player) why he had stopped playing tennis and had taken up golf, he said, “ My tennis game was gradually getting worse, but my golf game is improving.” p 67.

Carol Dweck discovered the same importance of growth in her research that illustrated the importance of our beliefs about ourselves…. a belief that permeates every part of our lives.

“Much of what you think of as your intelligence and personality actually grows out of your mindset. Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it.”

These mindsets determine how we see the world and are our blueprint to our capacity to learn and grow.


She describes the two mindsets that dominate our thinking, feelings and pursuits in life:

Growth Mindset    Vs.       Fixed Mindset

If you have a growth mindset, you believe everyone can change and grow.

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that our growth potential is fixed.

The mystery is that we all present with a growth mindset until we experience failure.

It is in failure where our response paths separate.

Fixed mindsets lead us to give up easily, avoid risks and to blame others. Also fixed mindset people tend to need to prove themselves often.

Growth mindset people are motivated by failure and are always eager to learn. Curiosity drives them to pursue, regardless of their knowledge and comfort levels.

What is important is that growth mindset people have more resilience, are heartier in their pursuits and are happier people. This got my attention.


Why is this important for nurses? Nurses live in the vortex of whirling scientific and technological changes, AND at the intersection of each patient’s personal collision of these high tech care situations with their personal values, emotions, and desires.

Only the nurses who are driven to find solutions within themselves to help patients and families through these existential experiences survive with wholeness.

Yes, healthcare is a beast to work in, and yes, it can steal your soul.

But we can find more resilience by pursuing our own personal growth.


PS. Dweck offers exercises to grow our growth mindset in her book, Mindset.

These exercises are also available in Take Back Your Caring Course Series offered by Saving Nurses/pat mcclendon. Available –

Dweck CS. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books; 2006.
Rubin G. The Happiness Project (Revised Edition). New York: Harper; 2015

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