Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Intelligence, Student Success.

Description: It is generally understood that attending and doing well at university requires a great deal of self-discipline. On the other hand, how you think about self-discipline and how you push yourself to get your required tasks done, according to the author of the article linked below, matters. How hard you drive yourself to get things done may have an impact on your level of life satisfaction and happiness even if you successfully increase your productivity. Think about how you talk to yourself when you are feeling pressed to get a lot of things done and then read the article linked below to see how this might be influencing your level of life-satisfaction.

Source: Self-discipline is overrated, so go easy on yourself, Oliver Burkeman, Health and well-being, The Guardian.

Date: September 23, 2016


Photo Credit:  Thomas Pullin, The Guardian

Links:  Article Link —

There has been a great deal of interest (psychological research and in the media in general) in the idea that children will grow up to become more successful if we could simply find some ways to help them build some “grit” or in other words to make them more motivated and generally tougher intellectually speaking. Children with “grit” respond to challenge and failure with a renewed determination to succeed while children without grit give up and lose interest in the task. What’s being questioned is whether success is more strongly linked to intelligence and basic ability or to determination and drive. It also involves wondering whether failure means you should give up and find something else to do or whether failure is simply a reminder that you need to dig in and work harder. Following an initial splash of interest in research in this area with media stories suggesting that a novel approach to life success had been discovered, discussions became more interesting when they began to consider a more balanced approach to these questions. More recent research and discussion of the notion of grit is still saying that a little more grit would be a good thing but the discussion is also looking a little more closely at both positive and negative factors associated with self-discipline and grit. What are being raised are questions such as whether it may be possible that focusing heavily on ways of increasing grit run the risk of putting too harsh a focus on self-discipline to the exclusion of alternative potentially effective self-motivational strategies. Rather than wondering and worrying about whether you have enough grit or self-determination to succeed in university or in life you would be better advised to examine how you motivate yourself. You might find the view of Buddhist teacher, Susan Pivens (quoted in the article linked above and the author of the first item in the reference section below who suggests: “…discipline is critical, just like all the teachers say. And there is definitely stuff that needs doing that is just never going to be fun like paying bills and cleaning the cat box. But I suggest that instead of being disciplined about hating on yourself to get things done, try being disciplined about remaining close to what brings you joy. It takes a lot of courage, actually. See what happens.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is “grit” how are we supposed to get more of it (and why)?
  2. What is your experience been either in life are at university (or both) with situations in which you failed or struggled? What did you do following the situations and where your changes effective in improving either your outcomes are you a general sense of well-being?
  3. What advice would you give to parents in terms of how they ought to be treating the children in relation to the children’s longer-term motivational mindsets?

References (Read Further):

Kohn, Alfie (2008) Why Self-discipline Is Overrated: The (Troubling) Theory and Practice of Control from Within, Phi Delta Kappan.