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Sustainability: Grip your gutsy-ness and go!

Sustainability: Grip your gutsy-ness and go!

Sustaining something should not be confused with upholding the status quo. It does not necessarily mean life as we knew it. For many of us, sustainability equals no-alarming-changes-thank-you-very-much! But let us rather agree that sustainability means to be able to keep on going, even when life is less than ideal.

Sustaining our lifestyle can mean either plodding along the old tracks, or proactively growing towards a new vision. Ultimately that choice lies with every individual, family or company. Sustainability has PLANNING at its core. But how do we plan to continue living life during major upheavals such as a pandemic, a death in the family, a bankruptcy or a divorce? Calamities create turmoil. Compare any calamity to a whirlpool with strong currents tugging you into an abyss you do not want to enter. The stuff of nightmares. Transitioning to a new phase during and after suffering such misfortune takes a lot of guts.

So how does one plan a smooth transition towards a sustainable lifestyle, when things around you fall apart? To author Chinua Achebe, the answer lies in kinship and the sense of community. He wrote in his novel Things Fall Apart: “It always surprised him when he thought of it later that he did not sink under the load of despair.”
Guarding against despair is key. Craig D. Lounsbrough, a certified life coach from the USA, reckons the most critical time in any battle is not when we are fatigued, but rather when we no longer care. Read that again.

Talking about guts: Dr Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is known as the author who described “grit” as a quality one needs for sustainable success. In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, she defines grit as “a combination of perseverance and also passion for long term and challenging goals. It’s a kind of stamina, but not just stamina in your effort, also stamina in your interest.” She describes four processes in becoming gritty: finding your interests, practicing various interests until your purpose becomes clear, and ultimately living in hope and with resilience.

Having guts, resilience, tenacity, vasbyt – they are what grit is all about. According to a review by The Wall Street Journal, Duckworth’s book Grit deals with what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.

Perhaps, then, living sustainably in trying times means to not lose your grip, your grit or your gutsy-ness. Living sustainably means taking your passion and your perseverance on a long haul to the other side of whatever calamity is yours, right now.

Christine Stoman

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