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4 Gritty Traits that Pave the Road to Happiness

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4 Gritty Traits that Pave the Road to Happiness

We must encounter frustration and failure to enjoy success. Wait… what? It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? In today’s business world, mistakes can be costly—both to the organization and to the individual.

There is enormous pressure to deliver the best products, strategies, and solutions. No one wants to be credited with “the idea that tanked.” We earn respect through our victories, not our failures. What is the old saying? “Carve your successes in stone and write your failures in the sand.” 

Our attitude toward failure is essential to success in the real world. Those who can’t effectively embrace and respond to failure are more likely to stay in the safety zone where mediocrity abounds. Angela Duckworth introduced the concept of grit in her 2013 TED talk as the “key to success.” Her first book, Grit, examines the scientific concept that success hinges on the level of a person’s grittiness.

However, beyond success, our level of grittiness also has a direct correlation to our level of happiness and personal satisfaction.

Consider these four gritty traits that have a direct impact on both success and happiness:

 

1. Resilience

Resilience, nurtured through a combination of optimism, creativity, and confidence, is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty. Life is often messy and complex, and there is no single solution that applies across the board. This means you must plan, prepare, and work toward your vision, but also continually embrace failure and experimentation when the inevitable orange cones of life present an unplanned detour.  When we view these obstacles as opportunities to learn, we can bounce back smarter and stronger,

As Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy point out in their book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, “There are no finish lines and no silver bullets.”  Resilience must be continually refreshed.” Resilience is the difference between those who thrive and those who fall apart in difficult or changing times.

 

2. Courage

A Google search for “fear of failure” will produce over 150 million hits. It’s number 15 on the top 100 phobias list—atychiphobia.  It’s also one of the greatest barriers to success.

Even though we all know we can learn from our mistakes, no one wants to fail. Failure and disappointment come as a package deal, and disappointment doesn’t feel good.  Courage and grit are a package deal, too. It takes courage to overcome the fear of failure. Sometimes the greatest enlightenment comes from defeat. Gritty people aren’t afraid to fail. Rather, they embrace mistakes and recognize that it often takes mistakes to make progress.

“Grit is having the courage to push through, no matter what the obstacles are, because it’s worth it”. – Chris Morris

3. Excellence

People often use the words excellent and perfect synonymously. As it turns out, there is a huge difference. Perfection focuses on destination rather than the journey. Perfectionists view any outcome less than perfect as failure. Many times that perfection is simply their perception of the ideal. They strive for impossible goals and often suffer from chronic unhappiness, clinical depression, and low self-esteem as they constantly chase that illusory prize. Moreover, perfectionists are often described as obsessive, anxious, rigid, and unyielding.

The quest for excellence is motivating and far more forgiving than perfection. Excellence is an attitude that emphasizes progress. Progress implies the process of continual improvement. Tony Schwartz, well-known author and founder of The Energy Project, refers to this as the “growth conflict.”  He says we strive for excellence as we continue to learn, grow, and change while also learning how to accept our own limitations and imperfections.

 

4. Passion

Perhaps the most essential attribute of gritty people is passion. Passion enables us to develop stamina and tenacity toward a greater purpose. It’s this symbiosis that creates meaning from chaos, finds value in effort, and cultivates happiness, personal satisfaction, and the sense that what we do really matters. People who genuinely love their work are motivated by their passion and a greater purpose. They tend to be more satisfied and healthier both psychologically and emotionally. Conversely, people who are unsatisfied with their work are more likely to be dissatisfied with their personal relationships and experience distress in other areas of their lives.

Consider some of the people who epitomize success. Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Oprah, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Simon Sinek, to name a few, all have demonstrated an unrelenting passion for a greater purpose. Malcolm Gladwell identifies passion as the most important factor for success. He says, “Nothing happens without desire and passion. Without it, nothing else falls in place. It’s very hard to find someone who’s successful and dislikes what they do.”

Marcus Aurelius Happiness

Grit may be the deciding factor between those who just show up and those who get the gold. Beyond that, grit determines how happy they are along the way. Success is not just measured by income, bonuses or the title on a business card.

Those who enjoy a rich, rewarding life understand that the road to happiness is paved with grit. If you want to be successful and happy, you’ll have to get a little gritty.

Thank you for reading my article! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Dr. Melissa Hughes is the founder and principal of The Andrick Group. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and master’s degrees in Instructional Technology and Educational Administration.  Throughout her career, Melissa has taught students from kindergarten through college, authored more than a dozen books, and developed countless instructional materials to improve teaching and learning.  Currently, Dr. Hughes develops and delivers professional development workshops across the country to increase our capacity to learn, unlearn, and relearn for greater professional success and personal satisfaction.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Thomas Stassi

    Jul 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Melissa,
    Great article. I am forwarding this to our children as I think this is great food for thought. Although now retired I can use this as motivation in my new volunteer endeavor.
    Tom and Deb

    • Melissa Hughes

      Jul 16, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      So glad you found value in the article, Tom! We all need a bit of inspiration and motivation now and again regardless of our position in life. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Debbie Romanoski

    Jul 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    What an inspirational article!!! I’ve printed it off and placed it front and center in my office to be read daily!

    • Melissa Hughes

      Jul 16, 2015 at 1:44 am

      So glad you found it valuable and inspirational, Debbie! Thanks for the comments!

  3. Lauren LeFranc

    Jul 15, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Wonderful article! Thank you for my morning cup of mental caffeine. This article also reminded me of a great saying that says….Experience is what you get when you get what you don’t want.

    • Melissa Hughes

      Jul 16, 2015 at 1:46 am

      “Experience is what you get when you get what you don’t want.” Wow… yes!! So true! Grit enables us to transform those events into learning. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lauren!

  4. Omer Nissani

    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Wow! Just wow! Thanks so much for a great article. Although nothing is new to me you inspired me so much! Thanks a lot Melissa right in spot (-:

  5. Bobbijo Werren

    Jul 15, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I love the concept of using grit to find happiness! Great article.

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Life

3 Ways You Can Track Your Habits to Make Significant Improvements in Life

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how to track your habits
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Do you feel sick and tired of all the generic advice on success out there? It’s always the same things. Read more, write more, believe in yourself, eat healthy, go to the gym, love your life and your wife. From time to time, all of the articles seemed like they were written by someone who has never experienced real life or any of the struggles they tend to write about.

It’s like getting advice from an alien. But nobody ever writes on the details of the struggle. Because they don’t know it. To be able to know and understand the struggle, you need to experience it. To live something day in and day out and experience it viscerally means to know something and have a grasp of it.

It is as Walt Whitman said it: “I do not ask the wounded person how he feels. . . . I myself become the wounded person.” I went through years of pain to learn how to build habits. I didn’t only read books about it (and yes, books are important), but I lived through it.

Because I know that theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. I had to live it through to be able to give any advice on it.

I did go through the pain and created my habit building system. What I noticed during the process of building my habits was that it can be challenging to track them. Nobody was telling us how to do it, because that’s something you learn when you go through the process.

Here are the three different ways you can track your habits:

1. Task done

The way you track this type of habit is by marking if you did your task. By that, I mean “I am going to vacuum the room” and you mark it done/not done or 1/0 in your habit tracker. This way of tracking works the best when you don’t know how much time a task will take and you just track if you did or didn’t do the task.

I have the same for my writing habit. My daily habit is “Write 500 words.” So when I do the task, I immediately open my habit tracker and mark it done. I do this by writing in the tracker the number of words I wrote that day (I don’t count social media or texting or things like this- only writing as in pure writing).

This is one of the easiest ways you can track your habit. But if you have a tight schedule, a different way of tracking might be better and this is what I mean.

“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. Time Allocated

Let’s say that you have only 30 minutes for yourself in the morning before the kids wake up. What you do in those 30 minutes counts and that is the second way of tracking your habits.

A great question to ask yourself is “How much time did I spend today on a certain habit?”

For example, let’s take the habit I’m developing of the writing 500 words daily. I try to make “write for 20 minutes” a daily habit. This way of tracking your habit works the best if you have a tight schedule or you run your life on “manager time,” as Paul Graham would say it.

I use this way of tracking for my daily walking habit where I “walk for 30 minutes” a day, trying to get my 10,000 steps a day count. From July 2018 up to March 2019, my average number of steps per day was 9429 and I did 2,178,120 steps. One kilometer is around 1,250 steps which means I walked 1,742 kilometers in 8 months which is the equivalent of walking from Miami, Florida, to Washington D.C.

There is one more way of tracking your habits, and this one is the best for tasks which are hard to accurately measure.

3. Did I do my best?

How do you measure your habit of being a great dad, husband, boyfriend, or friend? You can’t just say “Phone my girlfriend every day and talk to her for 15 minutes” and call it a day. It doesn’t work like that. You can talk to your girlfriend for 2 hours straight and it won’t make you a great boyfriend. Time isn’t the issue here. It’s how we use that time.

And that’s where the third way of tracking your habits comes into play. “Did I do my best to be an awesome boyfriend, husband, father, or friend today?” And you rank yourself from 1 to 10, 1 meaning that today, you were really lousy, and 10 meaning you were an amazing boyfriend, husband, father, or friend in the world.

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell

This makes a massive difference in the lives of not just you, but people around you. It’s what Brendon Burchard would call social habits. You can’t count love, but sure as hell can you count the effort for love.

You don’t have to pick just one way or another. You can combine these different ways of tracking your habits. And yes, even though some habits work better with a particular type of tracking, that doesn’t mean that you need to adapt to it.

Experiment and try and see which one works the best for you. Use all three tracking methods if you want to. Just remember to track your habits. Because the Walt Whitman quotes, which I modified a little bit, tells us “I don’t ask a successful person how he did it…. I myself become a successful person.”

How do you track your habits to make sure you’re on the path towards succeeding? Share your advice below!

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Life

Why Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone May Be a Bad Idea

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Donald Trump famously said, “Avoid your comfort zone – it’s probably outdated anyway.” It is very good advice for people who are exceptional, but what if you are not exceptional? You probably learned in college that no matter how good you are at something, there are always other people who are better than you.

Are you humble enough to say you are not exceptional? And if so, isn’t it possible that your comfort zone is where you belong? Just because you are in your comfort zone, it doesn’t mean you don’t crave success. Champion boxers never leave their comfort zone to take part-time jobs as a typist. Consider the fact that your comfort zone is the place where you will enjoy the most success.

Why “Comfort Zone” Advice Seems So Correct

Once again, breaking out of your comfort zone may be the right thing to do if you are exceptional. It is especially true for exceptional people because breaking out of their comfort zone is often the only place where they can grow. Yet, that is not the only reason why breaking out of your comfort zone seems like good advice.

The truth is that most people confuse being in a rut with being in their comfort zone. For example, the middle-aged executive who stays in his dead-end job because it is safe, rather than starting a new business selling parachute lessons, is not staying in his comfort zone, he is sticking with his rut. If people tell the middle-aged executive to get out of his comfort zone, they actually mean he should get out of his rut.

However, take the same middle-aged executive who is well respected at work, whose job is not a dead-end one, whose social life thrives because of his job, who’s bringing up children, investing, and who is healthy because of his job. If this same person were to leave his job to start a parachute training company, he would be leaving his comfort zone and most probably be making a great mistake.

Isn’t the Grass Always Greener On The Other Side?

Taking the previous example, what if the middle-aged executive left his job and his parachute training company offered him all the same things his old job offered him except better? Isn’t it always a good idea to try and fail rather than to never try at all?

The question and sentiment is fine, but it is not real life. Ask a person who has tried everything and ask a person who tried a bunch of stuff and then found something he/she enjoyed, and ask which person is happiest. Just because you “Didn’t” try something doesn’t mean you are missing out.

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side!” – Ricky Gervais

What About People Who Broke Out of Their Comfort Zone?

There is an old “Will & Grace” episode from 2002 called, “Went to a Garden Potty.” In it an old man says a line that goes, “I’m Stan’s old partner. We started the mattress store together, then he wanted to branch out into other businesses but I said, no I’ll just not take any chances, so now I’ve got the one little store and he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The mattress store story sounds familiar doesn’t it? You have read about similar stories in motivational books, but what you rarely read about are people who didn’t take risks and still became successful millionaires. A book called, “The Millionaire Next Door” addresses this discrepancy by featuring people who became millionaires by selling caravans and by being dentists. It shows how people who work the same job their entire lives are not schmucks, and that their unexciting success stories are still success stories.

Do not confuse taking risks with being outside of your comfort zone. In the “Will & Grace” example, the character Stan felt outside of his comfort zone with just one store. Stan’s comfort zone was taking risks. Stan didn’t leave his comfort zone when he went off making millions of dollars, he entered his comfort zone in order to do it.

The people who risk it all on a penny-share company are not doing it to break out of their comfort zone, they are doing it because they feel uncomfortable if they are not taking risks.

“Unexceptional” People Can Be “Exceptionally” Successful in Their Comfort Zone

I don’t like to be out of my comfort zone, which is about a half an inch wide.” That line is a quote from Larry David, the guy who wrote “Curb your Enthusiasm” and “Seinfeld” and he is worth $400 million.

Stephen King was 27 when he sold his first book, and he was writing long before that. King hasn’t left his comfort zone since he was out of college, and he is worth $400 million. One could even say that Stephen King rarely leaves his comfort zone creatively since his stories almost always feature a middle aged man, and many times the middle-aged man has a creative career such as being a writer, painter, etc.

Danica Patrick, when asked how she became the best female racer in the world responded with, “I never do anything out of my comfort zone.” Does that mean this woman, who is worth $60 million, never takes risks? You would know the answer if you had ever watched her race.

Do not forget the psychological damage that repeated failure can do to a person. People who say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” have clearly never gone through a terrible time because terrible times often make you weaker.

Repeatedly trying to break out of your comfort zone, only to be kicked back and stomped into the ground (metaphorically speaking) takes its toll and will often sap your enthusiasm to keep going forwards.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

Conclusion – He Will Be Back

Have you considered that exceptional people do not have a comfort zone? Take Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose last name has found its way into every spell checker program on the planet. He was a world-class bodybuilder, a record breaking actor, married a Kennedy, and became a US governor.

Some people say he was so successful because he never became comfortable being the best at just one thing. Maybe that is the reason for his success, maybe he wasn’t trying to break from his comfort zone…maybe he was trying to find it.

What are your thoughts on being able to succeed while staying your comfort zone? Share your opinions and stories below!

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Life

Do These 3 Things Today to Live in the Moment and Have a Better Tomorrow

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People always say that life is short, but they fail to remember that while life is short compared to eternity, living is the longest task that we as humans will ever perform.

Some of us take each day as it comes and some of us carefully plan out what we desire each day to bring us. No matter how you go about it, if you’re not careful, having an unbalanced point of view as it pertains to life and how to make it better for yourself can bring more pain than it will joy.

Life is filled with decisions and the decisions you make today have the power to shift the course of your tomorrow. Life can sometimes move so quickly that it’s hard to think and act while simultaneously balancing all the roles you possess and completing all the tasks you need to complete. Nonetheless, there are ways to navigate the trenches of life so that you’re able to enjoy each day as it comes, embrace the possibilities of tomorrow and be present to experience all the moments that make you smile.

If you have a hard time slowing your mind down long enough to pause and breathe, try these three tips:

1. Before you make a decision, ask yourself “why.”

According to Psychology experts, one of the easiest steps you can take right now on your journey of de-stressing is to ask yourself hard questions. Sometimes you think, act and speak before you have time to process what is happening inside of you and around you. Knowing this. It could be your lack of intention that’s the problem.

As a part of your self-awareness journey, start asking yourself why you are the way you are, why you think the things you think and why you do the things you do before you take action. While an adrenaline rush helps kick you into gear to take action, you want to make sure any action you take aligns with your personal goals.

Self-awareness allows people to recognize what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses. – Gary Vaynerchuk

2. Instead of planning for the long game, just plan for tomorrow

Worry is the thief of time and joy. If you look at your track record of life events, you may notice that many of the things that caused you the most stress and worry never came to pass. When you think about the direction you want your life to go in, don’t stress yourself out wondering what the next five years will look like. Take a moment to breathe, look around you and relax.

When you focus on taking life one day at a time, you’ll have more energy to think logically and make the decisions that lead to both short and long-term gains. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you live a happy life? One moment at a time.

3. Fight the urge to prove yourself

We live in a society that forces us to try to convince others of our happiness. According to studies, phones are necessary evils. It seems like you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. And for most of us, our phones play such a large role in our day to day that we start and end the day looking at the small screen.

The last time you enjoyed a moment of peace and tranquility, it’s likely that you snapped a picture of your surroundings so you could show the world just how much you enjoyed that moment.

Here is the good news, you don’t have to prove to anyone that you are happy or that you enjoy your life. Keep some moments to yourself. Protect your peace and your space. Don’t let the urge of sharing your journey cause you to be distracted from living in the moment. Don’t miss a moment in an attempt to capture the moment. Just be.

“It’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness.” – Richard Branson

Life is what you make of it. You have more control than you know. Life gets so much better when you acknowledge the opportunities instead of the obstacles that come your way. Before you feel an ounce of anxiety as a result of a stressor coming your way, ask yourself “why” you feel the way you do, think for the moment and not for your life and remember that you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.

How do you relax with so many distractions in the world? Share your ideas with everyone below!

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Life

Follow These 5 Steps to Radically Transform Your Negative Mindset

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Struggling with a negative mindset is a very real and common problem, one that often hinders a person’s ability to grow and achieve the things in life they want. Oftentimes, it is someone’s mindset that determines their level of happiness.

What is a mindset? A mindset is the beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Think about your intelligence, talents, and personality, these are the basic traits of oneselves. A mindset determines how we deal with challenges and obstacles. Which frame the running accounts in our heads and guide us on our life journey.

Experts agree there are two basic types – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe that their natural traits – intelligence, abilities, and talents are fixed from birth. In a growth mindset, people believe that they can develop their inner traits through learning and determination.

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” – Carol Dweck

Research has shown that 80% of the nearly 60,000 thoughts we have on a daily basis are negative. It also estimated that 98% of those thoughts are a repetition of yesterday. On a subconscious level, people are expecting the worst – almost all of the time. Constant repeated thought patterns turn into beliefs.

These beliefs then combine into a fixed and negative mindset. One where our inner voice is a harsh critic, a worrisome voice, and an anxious being. Luckily – we can employ parts of our brains to change other parts. We can move a fixed mindset into a growth mindset. How?

Here are five steps to radically transform your negative mindset:

Step One – Untangling your thoughts

A very powerful, proven technique for stepping back from the constant flow of thoughts is to look at them with the impartial rational mind. Generally, it is easy to spot these negative thought patterns because they are accompanied by an emotion. Recognizing the emotion tied to anxiety then gives you the power to label it for what it is. The same can be done for many other feeling patterns. These thoughts and feelings start to lose their intensity when repeatedly scrutinized by the rational mind.

Step Two – Examine your beliefs

Using the perspective gained in step one, you can begin to check your belief systems. The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging: “This means I’m a loser,”  “I am a better person than they are,” “I am not a good wife and mother,” “My partner is selfish.” Etc.

The key is adopting a growth mindset. A growth mindset is one where it is possible to learn and begin to cultivate positive beliefs. For example – when you find yourself being hard on yourself, consciously change it to something more positive – like when you have failed at something and the negative inner voice is yelling “see – you suck. I knew you’d fail” (a fixed view). Changing this tone to one that is more forgiving to yourself – “its ok – you’re only human. Learn from this mistake and you’ll do much better next time” (a growth view).

Step Three – Balance Your Risk-Averse fears

Being overly risk-averse in life leads to focusing on catastrophic possibilities. In a fixed mindset,  these fears are set in place and the belief is that they cannot be changed. Which results in a human being that is unable to experience life because of fearfulness. Fears can be overcome by setting goals and making detailed plans to accomplish them. Write the specific goals and plans down on paper. If you have your plan written down on paper than you know what you have to do and will not negotiate with your fears when making decisions.

Step Four – Adopt the Habit of Daily Mindfulness Meditation Practice

The practice of mindfulness meditation has been around for 2500+ years. It is what Buddha practiced and is at the heart of many religions. Meditation can be used to see the bigger picture and not focus on the implications of now. More so, mindfulness meditation can delve into each piece of it – old fears, habitual self-loathing, shying away from challenges and eliminate these pains.

What is meditation anyway? At the core, it is the mind’s ability to look inward. As discussed above – it can look at the thoughts, emotions, beliefs, fears, hopes, attraction, and avoidance of oneself. It can gradually quiet the negative internal monologue. Research shows that meditation increases a sense of happiness and contentment. Mediation makes space for growth by eliminating underlying stress, depression, and anxiety.

“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you filter it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.” – Buddha

Step Five – Shape Your Mindset With Visions and Goals

Every person has hopes and dreams that they want to accomplish. However, often we feel powerless to do so. By setting specific goals and detailed plans to accomplish them, you can start to break free from negativity. Break down the goals into smaller achievable steps. Allow every achievement along your plan to bring a sense of accomplishment and self worth.

The best way to begin to put it all together is to have faith that you can break out of a negative mindset. Gain an understanding of how your current mindset is fixed and negative through mindful meditation. From this insight and understanding, you can then set achievable goals of positive growth and use the same mindfulness to measure your success.

Adopt these five steps and through determination and consistent practice, you will find your mindset transformed in ways you never thought possible. Remember, there is always space for failure. Without failure there is no growth.

Do not fall back into the trap of negative thinking if you do not achieve what you want in one day. Humans are imperfect beings, and it is not possible to reprogram your brain within a day or a week. Some negativity will linger for awhile and that is totally normal. What matters most is your continued effort to reprogram. Over time your mind will change, just give it time.

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