The Nitty Gritty of Grit

This week, we continue to explore the importance of cultivating willpower, persistence, and all-important grit in ourselves and our children. IQ and standardized tests may measure academic achievement, but learning persistence, and self-discipline around your work can often result in a more accomplished, confident and happy individual. So if there is no question that persistent people are happier, more successful, and higher achievers, how do we go about strengthening it in ourselves and supporting our children to do the same? Thankfully, because we are evolutionarily conditioned to persevere, we can strengthen our persistence muscle at any age by simply practicing.

It turns out that while persistence is hardwired into humans, it is harder for us today to practice persistence as compared to our early ancestors because persistence is no longer tied to our survival, but more abstract and less urgent things like success, happiness, and achievement. For instance, it is much easier to embody willpower and stick-to-itness when hunting an animal on an empty stomach, but it can prove much more psychologically difficult to finish a degree or lose weight due to the lack of urgency and concrete need of the latter.

An article from Intelligent Optimist maintained that “a high-grit person with a medium IQ often outperforms a low-grit person with a high IQ.” Even among school-aged children, one study concluded that “Persistence is a better indication of future academic success than early reading and math skills.” And the same study’s author, psychologist Christopher Peterson, even correlates persistence with quality of life and happiness: “Happiness cannot be pursued directly. It is the by-product of other pursuits, and persistence sustains these pursuits.” To continue learning about the benefits of grit, click here >