The obvious answer: We equate it to the hard, monotonous, unrewarding work that we have to do every day. Who could possibly enjoy that?
I call B.S. I believe most of us hate the grind because we’re thinking about it the wrong way. We spend too much time and energy stressing about the hard stuff rather than just accepting it and dealing with the “actual” act of the struggle. They say if you’re in your mind, you’re behind enemy lines. Stop thinking and just push through it. You’ll never regret it.
Every goal worth striving for—whether it’s raising children, starting a business, or running a marathon—is 99 percent grind and 1 percent achievement. So if happiness comes from achieving goals, you’re only going to be happy about 1 percent of the time. Judging from my Twitter mentions, that sounds about right.
But if you learn to embrace the grind, and actually thrive in it, then you’ll be happy 99 percent of the time.
Sound like a pipe dream? It’s not. It simply requires a shift in mindset. Here’s your three-step plan.
Take a page from the Stoics, a philosophy founded in the 3rd century. They believed that very little is needed to be happy—it’s really just a way of thinking.
So whether you’re running a few miles a day to train for a marathon or dropping off the kids at school each day, take a moment and live in the present. This hard work isn’t just progress. It’s success.
Step #2: See the Grind as a Privilege
Every step you take should move you one step closer to your dreams. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time on this earth.
Working hard is a privilege. Not everyone gets the opportunity. But I’m not going to sugarcoat this: It’s hard to do every day. It takes more grit than you probably think you can muster. But you have to do it—it’s necessary for success.
“Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something,” says Angela Duckworth, a distinguished professor at the University of Pennsylvania who’s studied grit. “Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”
In other words, sometimes you have to do things you hate. Strike that. You often have to do things you hate. But in those moments, don’t lose sight of your why. That will shift your mindset and keep you going.
Step #3: Fake It Till You Make It
When times are tough, science says smile. Facial feedback clues our mind into which emotion we should be feeling. When we smile (even during the most grueling, monotonous tasks), neural networks in our brain are firing and telling our mind, “this must be a positive experience!”
What’s more, smiling is a social act of goodwill. Exposing your pearly whites around others increases the likelihood that you’ll get a smile back. Everyone wins.
If you perfect your ability to turn negative moments into positive ones, nothing will hold you back. The grind won’t get you down. It’ll lift you up. Every day will be a new journey, and you’ll embrace every journey as one worth taking.