Mental resilience is a phrase we’ve heard a lot lately, but what does it really mean, and what is grit? Perhaps more importantly, how can we develop both to help us reach our goals and keep working when we want to quit?
What is mental resilience?
Put simply, mental resilience is our ability to maintain focus and bounce back when life gets us down. We each experience physical stress such as a lost night’s sleep, simple disappointment, or life-changing events that leave us wondering if the goals we set for ourselves are really that important. Having mental resilience enables us to keep our focus and decide that we’ll move forward.
What is grit?
Grit speaks to a personal sense of passion that supports and develops mental resilience. University of Pennsylvania professor and author Angela Duckworth popularized the term when she published her theory about how success isn’t determined by a willingness to do hard work, and it’s not dependent on IQ. Duckworth told the world that grit is both of those things, combined with passion for the work you’re doing.
The fitness world is full of images that depict grit in all its sweaty, marathon-finishing glory. But, grit also puts on a big show in the lives of entrepreneurs, single moms working to make ends meet, and others who inspire us to do more and make a difference.
Maintaining focus in the face of adversity or sheer exhaustion requires enough passion to sustain all that effort. In the health and fitness context, many times that requires setting big goals that keep you motivated. For many of our members, those goals include healthy aging and staying active. That’s a “big idea” goal that requires intermediary goals for small successes along the way, and a healthy dose of internal motivation.
In a nutshell, you have to want it badly enough to get through the days when you don’t feel like working out or eating healthy.
Take this quick quiz to assess your current level of grit.
How to develop grit and mental resilience
What is grit? Grit isn’t something you have or don’t have. It’s not totally dependent on your abilities. When hard work intersects with something we’re passionate about – like a long, active life doing all the things we envision as we age – we can dig deep.
The inspiration we need isn’t always present in the next healthy meal or challenging group exercise class. Grit comes from somewhere much deeper, and when your goals align with your vision and values, you’ll find the effort you need to master those daily tasks of healthy living. You can develop grit that powers you through the tough days just like you develop your healthy body – one day, one success, one step at a time.
Build your balanced work-rest cycle
Just remember that every person who ever crawled to race finish line, worked three jobs to pay the bills, or fought hard to build a business, had to create some balance to prevent burnout. Do the work and be proud of your effort and determination, and remember to take regular rest days so your body and mind can recover. You’ll definitely know you’ve earned it!