We are all made of strong stuff. According to our dynamic parenting and relationship expert Dr. Miranda Fernande Walichowski there are ways to capture our own grit and launch it into new arenas of our lives to create a more powerful essence.

Among the recent New Year’s resolutions that we all tend to make, some the most common include: losing weight, being healthier, improving finances, quitting smoking, adding more excitement to life, spending more time with family and friends, learning something new, doing good deeds, finding love or obtaining a better job. These all seem like worthwhile and noble aspirations, right? Yet this year, of the 41% of Americans who made New Year’s resolutions, 50% will have already abandoned them within the first two months.
What’s needed to help us have greater tenacity and commitment to follow through with our goals? True grit. For some, grit conjures images of Jeff Bridges or John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, the rugged and trigger-happy lawman hired by the young Mattie Ross to avenge her father’s death in the film adaptations of the novel True Grit. For others, grit brings forth the name Angela Duckworth, a distinguished professor of psychology, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit may manifest as discipline or strong-will. However, true grit goes beyond that. Grit is a blend of passion and persistence. Grit is holding fast to a top-level goal for a long time and having the pursuit of that goal define how you live your life. When you are in alignment with grit, you are not in stubborn pursuit of a goal. In true grit, there is a refinement and cleansing away of all that does not serve the ultimate aim.

What is greatest enemy of grit? What threatens to derail your high-level goals and purpose? What is it that you have to contend with to protect the needed to achieve your high-level goals, your purpose? The enemies of grit are emotions and feelings. One way to understand the difference is that emotions emanate from the body and feelings emanate from the meaning we assign to the emotions. Feelings and emotions are distinct from objective, logical and rational thinking. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio confirms this by pointing out that our feelings contribute to the decisions we make 95% of the time. Damasio also made a groundbreaking discovery when he studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. These individuals, who seemed to function normally, could articulate what they should be doing in logical terms but could not make simple decisions, such as what to eat.
Adding to the complexity of things, we are not simply dealing with the three emotions that most people are able to name: happy, sad, and mad. There are 24 emotions that one can experience which will either enhance or deplete grittiness. Dr. Robert Plutchick developed the popular Wheel of Emotion depicting eight core emotions. For each of these emotions, he included a continuum going from a strong version of that emotion to a lighter version of that emotion. For example, joy in its full intensity is ecstasy and in its least intensity is serenity. The Wheel of Emotion can provide helpful vocabulary to help us understand the way we feel. The following are eight core emotions and the most and least intense manifestations of each: Joy: Ecstasy and Serenity; Trust: Admirations and Acceptance; Fear: Terror and Apprehension; Surprise: Amazement and Distraction; Sadness: Grief and Pensiveness; Disgust: Loathing and Boredom; Anger: Rage and Annoyance; Anticipation: Vigilance and Interest.

In essence, there is a broad spectrum of emotions that one can feel at any given time. We produce about 70,000 thoughts per day. These 70,000 thoughts influence our emotions, so one can see why feelings vacillate. Our feelings rarely align with our goals, our aspirations, or our desire for grittiness. In the pursuit of grit, you are left with two options when it comes to feelings: you can either change your feelings or you can push through them.

In her book 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence, Mel Robins tells us that we have a small window of time that enables us to act on the things that will move us towards our goals. A gritty thought is produced in our mind: go to the gym, turn away from your device and read a book or magazine, stop working and spend quality time with someone in your home, don’t eat that chocolate cake, make the networking contact, plan out that great idea, or speak assertively in a meeting. If we do not provide concrete forward momentum within five seconds of having this gritty thought, our grit will lose its strength.

Maybe the secret to harnessing grit is to visualize yourself as Rooster Cogburn. Have a fast draw. Accept that the road towards obtaining your goals is long and arduous and love the meaning and significance of the road. Moreover, when you have a misstep or a setback, remember the Chinese proverb, “Fall seven times, get up eight.”

Dear reader, I’m confident that the next time you are seen, you will be out jogging a few miles, reading a book, spending quality time with family, doing much good in the world, launching a project that will transform your business, or becoming the best version of yourself. As the character Mattie Ross said, “They tell me you are a man [or woman] with true grit.”