Happiness Improves With Grit

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Have you ever had a project or an idea that you were excited to see become a reality? How long were you willing to work hard without seeing any concrete positive results? Perhaps you’re the kind of person who only needs a little bit of evidence to reassure you that you are on the right track. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who throws up your hands in surrender if your first attempt results in failure followed by your second unsuccessful attempt to your last and final attempt. With failure number three your ambition and willingness to keep trying also evaporates.

What makes one person willing and able to hang in for the long haul while another succumbs to setbacks and quits in discouragement? What makes one person resilient and confident while another may not even have the psychological strength and sufficient belief to even take the first step and dream?

Some psychological researchers say the difference is grit. (Want to measure your grit? search for “Grit Survey”by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth if you want to find out your grit score). Dr. Glasser called it psychological strength. His 1976 book Positive Addiction explained not only what psychological strength is, but what we each could do to build and increase our psychological strength. With greater psychological strength we experience increased confidence, perseverance and creativity.

Could one of the side effects of increased psychological strength be increased grit? If you developed a greater capacity to pursue your long term goals with passion and perseverance would you increase your Mental Health & Happiness? Imagine feeling psychologically stronger, more creative and confident. Do you believe you would also feel happier and mentally healthier?

If you’re willing to give this a try, here is what you need to do (or continue doing, or modify what you are already doing.) Glasser’s recipe for building psychological strength, resilience, grit, and confidence include the following criteria:

  1. Non-competitive activity
  2. Can be done easily without worry about need to do it well or continually improving
  3. Can be done alone preferably (so that you remain non-competitive and non-critical).
  4. Believe this act will add to your life’s value, spiritually, physically, emotionally
  5. Believe that persisting in this activity will add to your sense of physical and psychological well being
  6. Can do it in a non-critical way

What you do is not as important as developing a daily diligent habit that meets the above criteria. To help inspire you below are some ideas:

Jogging           Praying                        Hit golf balls                Swinging a baseball bat
Meditating      Walking                       Hiking                          Gardening
Biking               Yoga                            Juggling                       Playing musical instrument
Singing             Painting                     Sand castle building    Cooking

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