Angela Duckworth wrote a book about the idea of grit and how we can use our knowledge of grit to actively change our behaviour and move towards being more gritty. Put simply, grit is the combination of passion and perseverance in the face of adversity.
As a western society we have, over time, moved towards a life of contentment and ease. We no longer have to plough our own wheat to make our bread. Nor do we worry about diseases killing us prior to our reproductive prime. Our understanding of what is acceptable in our lives, what we’re willing to accept has dramatically changed, even in the last 70 years. It was almost unheard-of to pursue what one wanted to, and today we discuss what makes us happy and what fulfils us. The privileged in the world are asked what they could do that may serve themselves, serve their soul and their communities. The privileged can turn away from the comfort of the pay check to embrace the ambiguity of soul fulfilment.
There are many ways to consider what would make oneself fulfilled and depends on each individual. Some might find a life of numbers invigorating, while others may choose to pursue doing things where they are able to interact with others a great deal.
It is crucial to our understanding of grit that passion is pursued in our lives, and we are not gritty for the sake of being gritty. If feeling like quitting feels like you’ve lost – you have. But not because you’ve quit, but because you haven’t been honest about what you want and what you’re passionate about. However, keeping that in mind, just the pure lack of enjoyment doesn’t mean one should yield and give way to the desire to quit.
Brené Brown describes two types of people with anxiety: those who shut down and those who take over. The anxiety associated with difficulty, newness, difference or even ambiguity may trigger these responses and affect our healthy functioning. The sum total of enjoyment in one’s life is only partly made up of the components and how happy we are in each domain.
We are also motivated to live partly through what we need, what we want and what we think we should do. For myself, the part of what I think I should do tends to dominate my decision making. It takes a great deal to move beyond what restricts our decision making – which is often mentally inflicted.
The old adage of ‘Do what you love’ has a positive and exciting ring to it. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. It is possible that the cynic in me says that the more closely you engage with this thing you love – the more likely you are to see its flaws? Maybe, one might say that the in the absence of the flaws one is not truly in love. This is true for anything, a partner, a job, a home, and takes a great deal to overcome that.