What are you willing to struggle for?

This piece on Quartz by Mark Manson about the concept of struggle resonated so deeply with me.  The premise is this: instead of asking what you want out of life, a more interesting question with more informative answers is to ask: “what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”

“At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.

He goes on to say that quality of life is determined by the quality of negative experiences in life (rather than positive experiences), so it’s valuable to get good at dealing with negative experiences. “To get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.”

This resonates so much for me because it’s so tied to my views on happiness, and learning to love and exist within the process of growing and learning. It requires stress resilience and grit.

This 99U article is a great summary of the concept of grit, and of Angela Duckworth’s research that indicates that grit is a better predictor of success than talent, self-control, or intelligence. It also links Duckworth’s research scale, so you can assess your own level of grit.

Duckworth’s 2009 Tedx Talk is heartening:

This article about Location Labs (that I’ve already promised I will not stop linking to) ties the the concept of grit to the importance of diversity (not just diversity of race/class/gender, but also diversity of experience):

Over 30% of their hires in 2015 started their careers in completely different role or field. “We’ve found that candidates with this type of background have the underdog grit that allows them to be successful here,” says Grossman.

Grit is so necessary for work involving transition (startups, major organizational changes, product development), but it cannot exist without autonomy and empowerment.

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