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Happiness Tip: Develop Grit

Did you know that the best predictor of success in school is not grades or SAT scores, but a quality researchers call “grit”? Gritty people do well because they are able to persist in the face of difficulty. In adulthood, grit predicts both success and happiness.

Grit is not a personality trait that you have or don’t have; it is a skill you can develop in yourself.

If you have a hard time persisting through challenge, the best way to develop more grit is to check your belief about WHY you are facing difficulty. Do you believe that you are inherently not-good at whatever it is you are pursuing? If so, you have what psychologists call a “fixed-mindset,” and that fixed-mindset is your biggest problem.

People who have “growth-mindsets” (instead of fixed-mindsets) tend to have more grit because they believe that their success is based on their effort rather than their innate talents. So when they find something challenging or difficult, they believe that they can and will improve through their hard work and persistent effort.

Mindsets are self-fulfilling. People who believe something is hard because they inherently aren’t good at it quit earlier, and improve less. People who believe that they CAN improve through continued practice tend to practice more–even when the going gets rough–and therefore they get even better.

Take Action: Identify an area of your life where you tend to quit in the face of difficulty. Do you believe that you lack the innate talent that you need to succeed? Research shows us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the power of innate talent pales in comparison to the power of grit when it comes to success. If you practice something deliberately, especially if you have good strategies to direct your effort, your performance will improve. Try approaching your difficult activity with this growth-mindset knowledge, and see if it helps you persist when the going gets rough.

Join the discussion: In what area of your life do you want to develop more grit? Do you have a fixed-mindset (you believe that you are successful–or not–because of your innate ability) or a growth-mindset (you believe your success will depend on your effort and practice)? Comment below.


  1. Lisa Kippen says:

    Boy, calling growth-mindset “grit” makes so much sense! And it is exactly what I need (and get great help from an amazing counsellor to help me acquire it) to help my 17 year old son who seems to have a “grit deficit” himself. I had no such grit deficit when I went back to school and got an MA in studio art – I was grit filled. Thanks for the reminder! “Grit it is”!

  2. Dimple Tahil says:

    Guess I have a combo of both Fixed as well as Growth Mindset but my Goal is to develop a Purely Growth Mindset and I know that Grit can help me attain that! Thanks 🙂

  3. Jimmy Pearson says:

    I’m guilty of having a “fixed mindset” when it comes to science. I thought I wanted to go to school for Occupational Therapy, but the science pre-requisites killed me and I gave up. I think this is good to know about, grit and “growth mindset”. I will keep this in mind from now on.

  4. Hannah says:

    I’ve got a fixed mindset around changing my work life. “I can’t do it. I can’t afford/ won’t be able to go back to school. Is it really that important? Maybe I can just grin and bear it for a few more years….” This needs to change to “I can do it. I can afford it, if I make changes. I will be able to find work to support me. I can no longer grin and bear it on my previous track.”

    • This is an interesting comment; I don’t necessarily believe that you’ve got a fixed mindset and need to move to a growth mindset. I think you’ve got a negative outlook, and you are looking for a more positive one. Fixed would be “I can’t do it because I’m not innately talented enough.” Growth would be “I can do this, even if it is challenging, because I will work hard and I have good strategies and a good plan.” Make sense?

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