Thinking Out Loud

Grit and Happiness

In most posts, I try to express something positive that has value in creating forward momentum. That’s another way of saying that I don’t like to write about what I don’t like or what drives me crazy. It comes across as venting, and I already do enough of that with family and friends. So, with that lead-in, I want to talk about two things that are currently driving me crazy.

I’ll start with grit. 

Grit is the newest quality/trait that has been “determined” to ensure success. Some believe we can teach kids to have more grit so attempts have been made to quantify it and test school children for their level of grit. Now, there is some controversy about the research that promoted this idea and questions about whether grit is another name for conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is already identified as a part of personality, so trying to make grit a “new” entity seems dubious—or so the criticism goes.

I find all of this tiresome, frustrating, and a waste of resources.

Is there anyone who doesn’t know that encouraging children is the right thing to do, and that when a child is having a hard time you support them, so they can keep at it and have success? Sorry to use a worn out phrase, but this is not rocket science.

Furthermore, we know that doing the same for adults is important and effective. We all experience frustration with learning new tasks and information and facing other personal challenges. That’s life. Of course we need to be there for one another to offer support, encouragement, guidance, etc. And if you are a teacher and you don’t already know how to do this, God help us. Do teachers really need to understand the ins and outs of grit so they can teach their students how to have more of it? And the idea of testing for it is beyond absurd. Yikes, what have we become?

On to happiness . . .

Which reminds me of how throughout human history we’ve been trying to define love. There are great poems, stories, neuroscience research, etc., and it boils down to some kind of feeling that is very subjective—we know it when we feel it. Most of the time. Isn’t happiness like that? We know it when we feel it. There is no formula, but there are some common sense things that we all know about. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to find happiness.

Happiness, too, is individually defined. You discover that when you have real conversations with people about life. We define what happiness means to us. Some people say it has to do with some kind of contentment, sense of satisfaction, resolve that you’ve tried hard to do good in life. The list goes on and on.

Happiness has no formula, although granted there are some common sense things that may support our level of happiness; one being that we find our passion in life and live it. How many people actually do that? Some maybe but not many. Does that mean you can’t be happy? Of course not. Plenty of happy people never find a passion in life.

Maybe we need to settle down and stop trying so hard to find the magic key to happiness and success, support each other more, recognize that no one has it figured out, and get on with accepting our humanity, doing the best we can.

Tip one: Stop asking people if they are happy.

Tip two: Avoid taking any test to determine your grit quotient.

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