In a winter of stormy weather, a landscape of serious financial decline, an on-going war, reports of international unrest and plenty of personal challenges, you don’t have to be a cowboy to have true grit.
What is Grit?
The formal definition of Grit is of rough granules, as of sand or stone. The psychological definition of Grit is as a positive non-cognitive trait that involves perseverance of effort to accomplish a long term goal no matter what obstacles or challenges lay within a “gritty” individual’s path.
Research defining grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals found that as a trait, Grit had better predictability for success than IQ or conscientiousness.
The person with true grit is not likely to be the student with the highest SAT Score, the team member with the greatest talent, the manager with the Ivy League background or the most popular Mom on the block.
Actually the person with true grit shares many of the qualities of Rooster Cogburn, the character of the U.S. Marshall played by Jeff Bridges in the 2010 Coen Brothers’ motion picture, True Grit. The person with true grit, be they a senior learning to use a walker, a soldier in basic training, a father searching for a new job or a woman re-locating after losing her spouse and her home, has:
How do we hold on to positive feelings in the face of the unexpected diagnosis, the child with special needs, the job that disappears, or the deployment of a spouse?
The definition of happiness most agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, economists, positive psychologists and Buddhist Monks is not of happiness as the state of bursting with glee but of happiness as a sense of well being, contentment, the feeling of living a meaningful life, of utilizing one’s gifts, of living with thought and purpose.
Positive and Negative Feelings Can Co-Exist
Research tells us and perhaps your personal experience confirms that positive and negative feelings can both occur during a stressful period of time. That’s not to say that they occur at the same time or that you should “Smile when your heart is breaking.” Rather, it means that tears and fears are not incompatible with laughter, enjoyment, love or mastery as we face life’s challenges.
Research has increasingly found happiness to be a function of many dimensions. One of them happens to be age. A surprising finding in terms of age and happiness is that the progression of age does not lead to an increase in happiness or unhappiness in a linear fashion.
Reported in The Economist, this finding is a result of the work of economists who internationally have begun to measure well being in terms of happiness –as distinct from financial indicators.
Gathering data through America’s General Social Survey, Eurobarometer and Gallup they asked two types of questions to measure happiness. One dealt with life as a whole or global well being including aspirations and achievements (Global WB) “Thinking about your life as a whole, how do you feel?” The other measured affective or emotional well being, like stress and contentment (Hedonic WB) “Yesterday did you feel happy/contented/angry/anxious?
A common complaint of couples in long term relationships is a decline in sexual desire. While the cultural finding seems to be that men are often the partner complaining, research suggests that long-term relationships can have a dampening effect on either partner – for reasons that are not solely due to aging.
In my work with couples I have found that the resentment, criticism and impatience that couples show about many issues in their life often cover the rejection and shame associated with the belief that they are no longer sexually desired. When they are finally able to address it one hears comments like:
Whereas couple therapists have long maintained that a couple’s sexual problems are actually a reflection of problems in other areas, the reverse is also true. Many couples will fight about anything rather than face what is not happening in the bedroom.