If you’re reading these words, the word resilience no doubt has personal meaning to you. In a nutshell, resilience refers to our ability to bounce back. Resilient people bounce back from trauma, substance abuse, mental health challenges (the list goes on) and don’t let life get the best of them.
Much research has been done in the area of the importance of resilience to a healthy lifestyle, and experts agree that we have the ability to build stores of resilience to help us navigate life’s trickier moments.
Now researchers have identified a new concept that you might want to think of as the flip side of resilience—grit.
While resilience is the ability to come back fighting after life delivers us a sucker punch, grit is the unwavering, long-term ability to persevere in the face of adversity (http://angeladuckworth.com/publications/).
The concept of grit has been made popular by Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology and pioneer in grit research.
According to Duckworth, “where talent counts once, effort counts twice.”
So while resilience and grit are related, they have different applications and purposes. Think of resilience as the confidence to keep moving forward after experiencing failure and grit as the underlying force that compels you to keep traveling a rocky road for as long as it takes to reach the end.
Both of these concepts are integral to success and the best part is that everyone can develop each of these valuable life skills. The amount of grit and resilience you’re born with can be cultivated and grown, as research shows that we can rework our neural pathways and alter our brain (a concept known as plasticity) in order to learn new skills throughout our lifetime.
Spoiler alert: growing your levels of grit and resilience will take practice and dedication! But, as with all things worth the wait, you’ll be more than compensated for your effort in the end.
With that positive thought in mind, here are some tried and true ways you can raise your grit I.Q.:
Hope is highly underrated. While it may seem like hoping for a particular outcome is no more than wishful thinking, it’s near impossible to achieve a goal without a sense of hopeful optimism. When you believe that you have the power to master a task, you’re more than halfway to the solution. Experts like Duckworth believe that viewing your ability to effect change is somehow limited or set at birth negatively impacts your grittiness.
Spend time with people who persevere
Grit may not be contagious, but it can rub off! Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who have a passion for life and persevere against great odds are inspirational and likely to bring you up to their level, just as spending time with Debby Downers can plunge your mood down a notch or three. The people around you have a huge influence on your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
When you spend enough time around a set of people, you find yourself incorporating their thoughts, values and behaviors. One example of this is peer pressure.
Peer pressure can be negative or positive. Positive peer pressure occurs in supportive groups in which individuals support and encourage the other members’ growth.
In this way, find and spend time with gritty people whose outlook will become your new normal.
Incorporate flexible thinking patterns
Rigidity in thought and outlook constricts the environment in which grit can thrive. Allow yourself to explore alternate options when problem-solving and ask for others’ opinions when facing a difficult decision. A truly flexible person views problems as chances for growth and learning.
Grow your grit via things that interest you
We all tend to stick with things over time that we like versus those that irritate or are unsatisfying to us, including clothes, work, food, and yes, even our favorite sports team!
So it makes sense to pick something you want to do in the long run when choosing something that will help you grow grit.
Which brings us to our next point: Don’t spend too much time worrying about or stressing over what your passion is. According to the grit expert Duckworth, just let go and try a few different things, indulge your interests and maybe try something new.
In the process you’ll find out more about yourself and your interests and along the way gather grit!
Next, once you’ve found an interest that could turn into a passion, practice, practice, practice.
You’ll gain resilience by making mistakes and getting back up, and gain grit by sticking to the task until you’ve reached a satisfying conclusion.
Reflect on your goals
Taking time to reflect allows your awareness to bloom. Think about the things you have achieved, the accomplishments that you are proud of and by extension the path upon which you want to proceed. No path is straight and level. As you reflect on your goals think of the obstacles you’ve overcome and in so doing bolster your sense of resilience.
What are good ways to practice reflection? If you prefer activity, try a gratitude walk in which you ponder the things that you’re proud of accomplishing. If you are introspective, how about recording your thoughts in a journal?
Giving yourself time to reflect on your past satisfactions without judgment will encourage you to keep moving forward, thus growing grit.
Remember: several studies have found that grit is the best predictor of success, even more so than the traditional I.Q. score.
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