How to Cultivate Grit

When you think of the word grit – what comes to mind? Amir Mofidi, Director of Operations, says, “The textbook definition uses words like courage or resolve. Cultivation has its origins in agriculture – it’s creating order out of a chaotic environment. How many straight 90-degree angles are there in a forest? Our environment can be chaotic, unfair, full of temptation and difficulty. We cultivate our challenging environment to produce something bountiful. The idea of cultivating grit is a mere image of cultivating a garden because when we do, we enter into a chaotic environment and create order to get what we want. We stumble, toil, and there are sweat and tears. There will be a great struggle in the pursuit of creating something beautiful. That is cultivating grit.”

Tyler Mounce, VP of Morale, says, “I see grit as a transcendent quality of someone who has sustainability to deny the self, make difficult choices, and exercise willpower and self-control.”

While everyone may see grit slightly differently, there’s a common theme: grit is when you are faced with temptation and use willpower. So, how do we overcome temptation? Here are five practical strategies to cultivate grit in your life to effectively overcome temptation:

Young woman rejecting Junk food or unhealthy food such as donut or dessert and choosing healthy food such as fresh fruit or vegetable.
  1. Set Appropriate Goals

If you have grit without working toward goals, it’s like dieting without understanding what foods are healthy. Your grit is wasted if you do not have goals. If you don’t have grit and want to cultivate it, setting appropriate goals to work towards when faced with opportunities to display it will play a role in facilitating it. Try thinking of grit like exercising a muscle – you should always have appropriate and maintainable goals to work towards. In the past, Dr. Alice has exercised her grit by purchasing a cupcake and leaving it in the fridge to expire. Even though Dr. Alice loves cupcakes, she chose not to eat it every time she opened her fridge to further strengthen her grit.

a shattered lightbulb sits on a table next to a whole, lit lightbulb
  1. Create a Healthy Relationship With Failure

Everyone will fail in whatever they attempt at some point! If you have an inappropriate relationship with failure, you’ll either avoid situations where you can display grit or enter into a situation and bail out at the first sign of trouble. You should accept an inherent risk with a goal whenever you set that goal. There is risk involved in anything of value! Trials and tribulations build grit.

  1. Find a Community to Keep You Accountable

Some external influence will create motivation and encourage accountability when attempting to accomplish something. When you have something bigger than yourself in the picture, you’ll be more likely to stand up to temptation when tested. Community is linked to accountability!

  1. Eat Your Protein

Overcoming temptation is deeply physiological. Research shows that glucose available to the brain is the number one predictor of whether or not people can display self-control or exercise good judgment. The glucose in our brain can be depleted by small tasks – even deciding what to wear can affect the glucose levels in the brain!

Protein plays a significant role in regulating blood sugar. It decreases the insulinogenic effect of food – which results in a spike in blood sugar followed by a subsequent drop in blood sugar, leaving us in a weak cognitive position to make decisions. High-protein diets are excellent for cultivating grit!

  1. Prioritize Omega-3s

Dr. Alice says, “40% of your brain is fat. Most of that is DHA – which is a component of omega-3s. There has been a lot of investigation into omega-3 fatty acids deficiency and its ties to depression, anxiety, and behavior. You have to feed your brain what it needs. Make sure you’re eating fish or taking fish supplements!”

omega-3 supplement capsules arranged in the shape of a fish

To cultivate grit, you need to try your hand out at grit and maybe fail a little bit. Some stress is beneficial – stress needs to be present for growth to occur. Think about it: when trying to get physically stronger, you’re never going to get stronger unless you try a weight that’s too heavy for you so you can get to a place when it is not too heavy for you. You will cultivate grit if you experience the stress and then overcome it!