Grit requires a different type of hope from the belief the sun will come up in the morning. This hope involves the expectation our efforts will affect the future. Luck vs. Resilience.
A scenario: You don’t complete all the work you needed to finish. What is the major reason why?
- “I screw up everything.”
- “I mismanaged my time.”
If you normally think the first response, you’re more likely to be a pessimist. “Oh, thanks for the reminder, Brie!” Hold up. Why does it matter if you view aspects of life through a pessimistic light? This matters since pessimists are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. The statement “I screw everything up” stems from a condition of permanence which can negatively pervade throughout your life.
However, the second statement reflects what optimists tend to think. It reflects on actions as opposed to character traits. Optimists typically fare better in mental health management, earn higher grades, remain constitutionally more fit throughout middle age and live longer. Generally, grit paragons are optimists.
Interpretations of objective events ultimately affect our emotions and behavior. This is the very basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, used to treat psychological illnesses and maladies such as an anxiety and depression. Do you know what this means? Your language can cultivate hope. Change your language by encouraging challenges and identifying improvement.
Embracing struggle also cultivates hope when you can control the outcome. Remember effort? When by your own efforts you can control an outcome, you become mentally stronger. This lesson might even matter more in childhood due to brain plasticity. Simply put, when you overcome potent adversity in childhood, your brain is rewired in a manner to help you cope better in the face of adversity latter on in life. **Keep in mind trauma outside of your control can debilitate.**
Growing up, every single exam stood as my adversity. I expected the best from myself since my parents and I knew I possessed the capacity to excel. Mom & Dad knew I was my own worst critic, too. I also never wanted to disappoint them. They are my heroes after all. When I didn’t perform as well, the failure shouted, “Brie! Try harder!” Of course there were moments over the years when I talked down to myself, but ultimately, I’d go back to the old mantra of “Get your shit together. You can do this.”
What can you do to teach yourself hope?
- Update your beliefs on talent and intelligence. Think about fixed vs. growth mindsets.
- Practice optimistic self-talk. Your words matter
- Ask for help. You’re not alone.
Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Does your language cultivate hope?
“Chapter 9: Hope.” Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth, Scribner, 2018, pp. 169-195 .