Asking “Why?” or “Why did this happen?” is a component of the human experience, as we interact with the world around us. Yet when was the last time some of us stopped and asked ourselves the deeper questions:
- Why did I take this job?
- Why did I marry her/him?
- Or even Why didn’t I do this sooner?
But even more rarely do we ask ourselves why for something we are about to do. Knowing our “why” is critical to changing difficult situations.
Our “Why” in Difficult Times
Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Hope and grit have been suggested as elements that, when defined and embraced by individuals in challenging financial and environmental situations, can change circumstances.
S.J. Lopez defines “hope” as “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.” In other words, our why. Grit, according to A.L. Duckworth et. al, is “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals.” This is our continued action towards meeting our why.
We need both hope and grit; we need to believe that our lives can be improved as a result of our work. If that isn’t the case, why should anyone make an effort to improve themselves? Grit allows us to overcome the difficult obstacles outside our control and continue taking steps towards our goals. Hope is the fuel that allows us to move forward.
Using Our “Why” to Get Through Difficult Roadblocks
Easier said than done, though, isn’t it? Sometimes we get stuck trying to understand “Why did this happen?”. It is far simpler to focus on external roadblocks and what others are doing as an excuse for inaction — but we also become overwhelmed or discouraged when parts of ourselves keep getting in the way as well. Sometimes we need encouragement, support, and accountability on our journey, or perhaps a fresh perspective or gentle correction. And that too is part of the human experience. Who do you have in your life that can help you be free to live the life you want?
Robert Magill, MA, CAADC, CCPG, LPC
Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. New York, NY: Atria
Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,92(6), 1087–1101.