This is the 257th column I’ve had published on Castanet.
Yes, I am sad enough to have taken the time to count.
To professional columnists, that may seem like a measly number, but I’m not one of them. I was approached by Ross Freake, who was the columns editor at the time, and asked if I’d like to contribute a weekly article about happiness. I was surprised at his suggestion. In those days I didn’t consider myself a writer.
I thought about it for several weeks before I agreed. I was concerned about all kinds of things, including not being able to come up with topic ideas. I decided I would commit myself for six months, and then re-evaluate. I guess I must have found value in what I was doing because this week’s column marks five years of The Happiness Connection. There’s no one more surprised by that fact than me.
It hasn’t always been easy. My initial concern about finding appropriate subject matter has indeed been the greatest challenge. I always want to give my readers something I hope they’ll find helpful and/or interesting.
I’ve sat down more than once with an hour or two until my deadline, without a single thought in my head or word on the document. But somehow, I’ve always managed to create a piece I was happy with.
The first time I received an unkind email about my column, I thought about quitting. It took some wise words from the then editor of the day, David Wylie, to keep me going. I’ve since learned how to accept all comments without taking the harsh ones personally.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary perseverance is the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult.
Everybody experiences times that are challenging, when it would be so easy just to throw in the towel. I’m not here to judge. There are times when the effort isn’t worth the outcome. It’s important to be able to recognize that fact and make a choice that’s good for you.
But it turns out there are some valuable benefits of fighting through challenges. So, if giving up has become a pattern in your life, here are a few things to ponder next time you feel tempted to quit.
• Perseverance encourages flexibility. If one strategy doesn’t work, you’ll probably have to try a different one. This promotes adaptability and improves resilience. That’s something everybody needs in today’s chaotic world.
• Research shows that people who persevere are less likely to develop depression and anxiety.
• Successful people don’t give up. Unless you have the ability to keep going, you’re unlikely to find triumph.
• People who persevere develop an ability to see life through a positive lens. They don’t see failure as a bad thing, or themselves as failures. This is an important skill to possess if you want to be happy.
If you tend to quit when things are hard, don’t feel discouraged. Perseverance is a learnable skill. You’re never too old or too young, to acquire it.
1. Set yourself a goal. Although SMART goals include creating a timeline for when you’ll have your goal completed, sometimes it’s better to set a date for how long you’ll stay focused and committed. When that day arrives, re-evaluate.
2. Reframe how you see failure. Sit with your disappointment for a few minutes, then invite your negative emotions to leave. Start looking for the hidden blessings that your unfortunate situation has given you. If you struggle doing this, get some help from a friend.
3. Don’t be afraid to come up with a new plan. Changing strategies doesn’t mean you’re giving up. You can come at the same goal from many different directions.
4. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments. Instead of moving onto a new goal the minute you achieve your objective, take time to enjoy your success. Whether it’s a night of celebration, or a moment of satisfied reflection, it’ll boost your happiness and get you ready for your next intention.
So, here’s to all your wins, large and small, and to all the things you learned along the way. Cheers.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.