Passion fruit vine in my backyard
Today’s blog is about something I badly need to work on, so I thought it would be a good idea to focus on it in the hope that it might stick. The title ‘A Ration of Passion’ was just a way to lure you in. The subject is actually about ‘grit’. Bear with me, it might be something you feel you need too.
In the days when I used to be hungover from wine, I had an excuse not to do the things I knew had to be done in order for me to achieve my goals, dreams, ambitions… whatever you want to name those callings that come from deep within us. Alcohol and the mental state that went with it was like a life-sucking habit that kept me stuck in mediocrity, trudging through my day-to-day life with a finger on the off switch to the light of my creativity.
Since quitting alcohol, I have definitely come unstuck to some extent. My mental health has been restored now that I am no longer allowing toxins to mess with my homeostasis. The light switch is pressed on and there is much clarity where darkness once resided. I take pride in my weekly blog-writing, am enjoying the research element of it and revisiting all my old photos as I search for appropriate ones to accompany each post. Alas there are some other life-sucking habits that are rearing their ugly heads lately. Procrastination is one of these buggers and is what allows me to spend silly time scrolling through kilometres of news feeds and social media posts on my phone instead of finishing my novel. I’ll also share a dark secret with you at this point – I am a serial scrabble player, escaping into daily games with people around the globe. Some of the other buggers I grapple with daily are resistance and whingeing. The former comes from being too set in my ways and a reluctance to embrace change. The latter is just offloading the frustrations of not doing what I set out to do. I might whinge about the weather or the mess the kids make, but deep down the real reason for my whingeing is annoyance with myself.
Binning the buggers
So, I am here today to tackle these buggers and assign them to the basket marked ‘unhelpful’ that is now sitting on the floor next to my desk, just as I did with alcohol over a year ago. You see I can’t keep patting myself on the back for being sober if I haven’t yet used the opportunity to work on a better, alternative way of living. I have been going easy on myself which was fine for a while but I’m chomping at the bit now to get on with the things I know are important. As I’ve mentioned in the past, when I was at the peak of my addiction I was disconnected from my true self. I lived in denial of my purpose in life because it was easier than actually doing the work that is required to achieve my ambitions.
In my research on ‘grit’, I learnt that it is defined by the very qualities we try to instil in our kids:
These are the qualities that we need to develop in ourselves if we want to live a life that is in line with our purpose. But how do I know what my purpose is, I hear you say. I have asked myself this question many times before and have come to the conclusion that it is all about what feels right in my heart. If we give ourselves a chance to do different things, experiment with activities we might enjoy doing, we are more likely to discover what brings out the passion in us. Nobody has ever discovered what they’re good at or what makes them tick by sitting on the sofa. It’s through experience that we learn about ourselves. Passion comes from the heart, not from the head, which would explain why our purpose reveals itself to us when we are fully engaged with life. When we find what makes us passionate, we also find the drive, commitment and energy to pursue it. After that, it’s a matter of having the courage to keep at it, even in the face of failure. I love this quote from Grit expert and psychologist, Dr. Angela Duckworth:
Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Having had experience of running marathons, I can reveal that there is a lot to be gained from being tenacious over a long period rather than bursting into action that can’t be sustained for the long run.
Talent will only take us so far. If we don’t put the effort in, we will not be successful, therefore cultivating a mindset of perseverance and tenacity is important. I was uplifted when I discovered this truth because it allows us all a chance at success. Our ability to learn and improve can change with effort. The question is, can we be bothered? This will be determined by how far we are willing to go to achieve our dreams. One of the best tips I picked up from a psychologist was to love everything I do, even housework! By consistently doing things with love and to the best of my ability, I hope to develop good habits that will be etched in my brain as a neural pathway and will keep me on track to achieve my goals. I love the fact that the brain can adapt to changes in daily habits if we give it half a chance, thus allowing us to make progress in our lives. It all starts with a decision. Knowing that we have the choice to make that decision is the key. Every day is a new day, and a chance to start living a new life.
In April 1910, on his way back to the US after a trip to Africa, Theodore Roosevelt stopped off in Paris. It was at the Sorbonne that he delivered his famous speech entitled Citizenship in a Republic that drew massive applause from the hundreds of students, educators and dignitaries in attendance and continues to inspire people, including me, to this day. Here’s an extract from this speech for you to ponder:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…
Wishing you all the grit you need to live the life you wish for with all your heart and the courage to keep going even when mistakes and failures try to sway you. I’m grateful that you have taken the time to be here today, and for helping me to stay accountable. I intend to pursue my dreams more now than ever.