I asked my grandma for the phone number of several relatives. I was expecting her to reach for a notepad where she scribbles notes and phone numbers. But after giving me a strange look she started shooting off the numbers — from memory. She didn’t have to check anywhere.
My grandmother is in her 80’s, so watching her rely on her memory instead of saved numbers on a phone or notepad was impressive. That’s equivalent to a magic trick these days, right? How many phone numbers do you know by memory? I only know one!
In this world of GPSs, tech, and apps it’s clear that smart gadgets increase our convenience, but they’re making our brains weaker (and dumber too). I didn’t study medicine, but the brain is a muscle, right? This means that it needs to workout. And I mean a real workout and not like leg day at the gym.
The problem is that technology reduces the amount of daily exercise our brain needs to avoid atrophy. I’m not one of these people that’s against technology, but the more convenience we enjoy the less grit we have. That’s a problem!
So what’s grit? Dictionary.com defines it as,
“firmness of character; indomitable spirit.”
Merriam-Webster defines it as,
” mental toughness or courage.”
And Wikipedia describes Grit in psychological terms as,
“ a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.”
Sounds important! But why do we need grit?
Well, if your goal in life is comfort and convenience than whenever you experience inconvenience you can’t handle it. You freak out. It’s like people whose’s day is ruined because they can’t find a wi-fi hot spot or had to stand in line for more than five minutes. Imagine someone suffering from first-world problems, but all the time.
Grit helps us in three areas:
- Perseverance: Grit helps us build the perseverance muscle needed to overcome challenges. Overcoming has more to do with our mind-set than it does with our circumstances.
- Persistence: Grit helps us stand up one more time after failing. Most people give up on a goal after failing the first or second time. But exceptional people keep trying.
- Productive: Grit motivates us to take action towards the harder choices , which are usually the better ones over the long-term. This makes us more productive, but it means we’re working on the right things instead just being busy.
Too much convenience and we become too soft. Just like our bodies need physical exercise, the part of the brain where we store grit needs a daily workout too. A little inconvenience is good for you.