Why Do Some People Persevere … and Some Don’t
I work in nursing homes. And I’ve noticed since I have … 25 years now … that some people walk and walk and walk the halls incessantly … rehabbing quickly from knee, hip, and otherwise limb surgery. And others have to be hauled into their walkers by multiple physical therapists and almost whipped to trot just a few steps before collapsing back into their wheelchairs … winded and whiny.
I myself have had the same challenges. I broke my ankle about 7 years ago … badly. But I was back at work in five weeks … I knew it was time when my caregiver started rearranging my furniture … in a wheelchair with a driver (of course, I broke my right ankle so I couldn’t drive). And just plowed through the year in the wheelchair with a cast (13 weeks), then a walker (with an inflatable boot), then a cane (I still have it to remind me), and then finally able to drive my own car. So I can tell you firsthand … because of these challenges (I wouldn’t have known otherwise) that I too am blessed with GRIT … which the dictionary defines as, “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.”
I’ve always suspected it though. Once, while having dinner with a therapist friend, she shared with me that she thought her life was about “doing just enough and not trying too hard”. I then said something like, “I’m a pitbull … I just take the bit between my teeth and go through center with it! (to torture some old clichés)”
I’ve often wondered why some of us seem to be gifted with GRIT. And others … not so much. Because it seems to me that, if I could teach the qualities of GRIT to people, it would make their lifestyle changes so much easier. So here’s my burning question … How do you get the others to be like the some?
Here’s my take on the qualities that people with GRIT possess. And mindset changes for those who don’t seem to have it to acquire it.
1. Find Meaning in Life. I’ve been recommending the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, for years. So it’s no coincidence (I totally believe in synchronicity) that an article trumpeting exactly that appeared in my social media newsfeed this morning. Gritty individuals trust that there’s a gift, lesson, or opportunity in every challenge. And that we all have a purpose in life … and our main job in this lifetime is to discover it.
GETTING THERE … When challenges occur (and it could be something as large as an ill loved one or as small as missing keys) take a moment, breathe slowly in and out through the nose a few times, and ask yourself … “What’s the lesson in this?”. Or “How can this help someone else”. Or “How is this making me stronger?” If no answer instantly appears, at least you mind is working on the question … eventually you’ll find an answer. A-ha moments may surprise you.
2. Be Grateful. I find gratitude to be one of the most powerful energy- and life-shifters in the Universe. It instantly puts things into perspective and triggers humility. When I broke my ankle, and didn’t know if I’d ever walk right … or even walk again for that matter … I was forever grateful for friends who showed up to take care of me, that I had money to hire people to help, and that I still had my faculties and wit. It got me through!
GETTING THERE … Take a hint from the hit movie, The Secret, and grab a sheet of paper or … better yet, devote a whole journal (I was lucky enough to get a leather-bound one that was given away at one time by this very powerful movie/movement) to gratitude. Write “I am so grateful and happy now that …” and finish the sentence. Do this 100 times the first time. Another way is to find a small object or rock to carry in your pocket or purse; hold it in your hand and think “I am so grateful that … “. There’s a great story in The Secret about this “gratitude rock” idea … hint, hint.
3. Love and Support Yourself. Hey, I know that loving yourself is a TALL order, especially if you’re a woman. I’m still coming to terms with my aging, thickening body and exercise resistance myself. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t soothe and support yourself through life’s inevitable “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. According to the book, Hardwiring Happiness, we have a tendency to store negative experiences and subsequently react to them. In other words, we’re actually wired to beat ourselves up to spare us from adversity (AKA sabre-tooth tigers). Being positive is, therefore, harder … but always doable.
GETTING THERE … First realize that you’re not perfect and you WILL screw up. Then begin to talk to yourself lovingly as you would when giving advice to a beloved friend. Spending time alone with yourself, self-soothing and breathing through a harrowing situation also helps. The book above has tons of processes that promote positive feelings too.
4. Lose Control/Surrender/Be Brave. Anne Wilson Schaef coined the phrase, “illusion of control” … ain’t THAT a universal human truth. Life is scary … and we try to control it so “the slings and arrows” will fall more lightly upon us. The more we try to do so, however, the more we spin a restrictive cocoon around ourselves that gets stronger and stronger with each harrowing situation. But instead consider surrendering to it, being willing to lose control around it, and being courageous enough to ford that river full of crocodiles; that’ll actually win for us the ultimate control.
GETTING THERE … Ascribe to the idea of “downstream thought”. If you find yourself trying to go upstream without a paddle, struggling to get through the rapids, and making little headway, turn around, “go with the flow”, and see where it leads even though you’re afraid. Here’s where finding a spiritual base … whatever works for you … to depend upon works like gangbusters. As well as the following …
5. Ask for Help. I’ve worked with all sorts of addicts for almost 25 years, And I’ve got to tell you that this is the one quality that “separates the men from the boys” so to speak. It goes along with surrendering and being brave as no one really wants others to see them being vulnerable and radically unglued … especially people-pleasing addicts. But I do believe that doing so means the difference between staying on a positive personal path or plunging into an addictive abyss.
GETTING THERE: Pick up a phone or text … sending an email or other slow communication just won’t do here! And make sure that there’s someone on the other end who will listen without bias or criticism … possibly a professional in the beginning. Try an appropriate hot line if you don’t have one or a supportive friend. In the addiction community, this is what sponsors are for.
6. Have a Sense of Humor. I am so blessed to have been born with one, especially since I grew up in a humorless house. I think that life often disintegrates into an absurdist play, where all the characters are clowns but the message is profound. A place where you can then laugh at all the follies of life. Research has shown that humor is essential to emotional regulation, coping, and resiliency.
GETTING THERE … Find the humor in situations. Watch funny movies or TV shows and allow the deep, belly laughs to come. Tell a story about something that happened to you to a friend and see the humor in your actions. Find humor in your pain … it’s always there. Or try laughter yoga … the ultimate giggling experience.
Cultivate these six signs for yourself. They’ll not only promote resilience when faced with those “slings and arrows”, but they’ll empower you to surrender and ultimately take the risks that lead to a more fulfilling and happy life.
Leave Your Comments About Six Signs You Have GRIT Below
Do you think that you have GRIT? If not, which of these ideas are you willing to try to acquire it?