Why Combining Grit with Compassion Can Help Us NowBy Caroline Adams Miller
“A client of mine says she is mad about the coronavirus restrictions,” a therapist noted during a webinar I recently hosted. “How can grit help her in this situation?”
The therapist’s question touched on something that I’ve been pondering for weeks. Although “grit” is the word we often see being used to describe the heroism of frontline responders, I believe that there is a different type of grit that might be even more important right now for us to pay attention to because of its capacity to change lives, and even our culture, in momentous and overdue ways: “compassionate grit.”
As I see it, virtually everyone in the world is being called upon to develop this character strength, which I define as “the selfless pursuit of hard, meaningful goals—that you didn’t choose for yourself—but that make other people’s lives better,” whether they want to or not. Instead of the passion that is baked into the accomplishment of one’s own gritty goals, we’re being tasked to embody compassion so that we will take on daily hardships of all types for people we will never know, and to do it for a long period of time.
Answering the Call to Compassion
Some people are handling this well, like designer Christian Siriano, who can’t make ordinary women’s apparel but who is suddenly sewing masks for hospitals. Likewise, restaurant owner John Foster Gunter, closed his Word of Mouth cafe in Louisiana, but decided to hand out free meals to the elderly every day. On the other hand, some have violat