20 Jun

How I smiled when I saw the Guardian magazine cover this weekend: THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING it screamed.  Happiness, it seems, may indeed be a glass half empty.  LOVE IT.  Oliver Burkeman is a man after my own heart, and the article is an extract from his book, ‘Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking’, and I, for one, can’t wait to read it.  I am all for making friends with the worst case scenario and find it to be a great stress-buster.  Life isn’t easy and a lot of the time it isn’t much fun either.  Some days are PURE GRIT from start to finish.  But embracing failure as fact, and accepting ‘hard’ as the new black are fundamental components to a more balanced life.  And choosing not to see them as bad all the time or as problems to be solved or corrected but instead viewing them to be as vital to your health as breathing is also key.  Apart from anything else, think of all the energy we would conserve (for runs?!) if we stopped wasting it on striving to be so bloody happy all the time.  The good news, according to Oliver, is that we may actually end up happier for it…

Oliver uses the work of Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck to illuminate his arguments.  In a nutshell: that an ‘incremental’ theory point of view (ability evolves through hard work and challenges) is much healthier than a ‘fixed’ theory one (ability/talent is innate).  For RFBR afficionados,  this is very good news.  You have quite literally adopted this ‘incremental’ theory approach to running/getting fit.  In challenging your fixed theory that ‘you can’t do it’ and flexing those leg muscles, you have proven to yourself that Yes. You. Can – through a committed practise and hard work.  Which just goes to show, as Dweck extolls, that we are not saddled with one mindset, we are not STUCK.  One of the most limiting things we can say about ourselves is that we can’t change, that people don’t change, that its too late to change.  We CAN change, we can transform ourselves all the time if we choose to.  And part of this transformation comes in not just bearing failure but embracing it in all its glory as necessary and important in showing us our present limits. 

The Grit Doctor says:

The only mind traps that exist are the ones we have set for ourselves.



  1. Jessica June 21, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Just started my first day today – 8km in 1hr and 35 mins walking, was enjoying it but started to get a rumbling stomach, the kind were you want to run to the toilet, but I was nowhere near a toilet, so sucked it up and made it home before I exploded. I figure if I can handle that I can handle whats next!

    • gritdoctor June 21, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      WELL DONE, fantastically gritty first effort. I’m sure it will get easier on the tummy as you get used to it! Keep me posted on your progress..

  2. Noelle June 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Thankyou Ruth for not just an amusing read but an inspiration to get me back into my running. I am one of the self motivated types you dismiss in the first page (have been a runner for 25 years, several marathons 3hr 40 pb, 10k 45min pb, daily yoga practioner, gold medal veteran taekwondo competitor and all round obsessive type) , however after a bad year in 2011 with injuries and a surgeon recommending I give up running after knee surgery I had resigned myself to being a walker. But as I can still jog however slowly, I got my mojo back yesterday after reading your book straight through. I am determined to enjoy simply getting out for a jog again on a regular basis. Keep up the great work cheers 🙂

    • gritdoctor June 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      wow, i am so pleased it worked! i must say in a wierd way it was my own book that got me out of my no exercise funk post babies but its always great to hear from others that it is working for them too. would you mind if I posted your message as a blog as it really inspired me and no doubt will inspire others too?

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