Okay, I spent this morning at the dentist. Nothing bad, just a cleaning and checkup that I'd put off for a little over a year. Gratefully, the results were good and there is nothing out of the ordinary, so I'm off the hook for at least 6 months. But while in the dentist chair I was thinking about some shocking statistics I heard recently. Apparently the number of cavities, root canals, even crowns and dental surgery has skyrocketed in the past year. What was most shocking was that it is occuring to young children. The researchers traced one of the causes back to lack of desire on parents part to subject their children to regular brushing because "the children didn't like doing it." Though I'm not a parent, I'm concerned.
Growing up many of us learned the lessons of perseverence because we were encouraged to work for something if we really wanted it. We learned to be happy with the struggle because at the end of it, we would be rewarded with the prize we worked so hard to achieve. Whether it was purchasing a guitar, making a spot on a team, studying to make the honor roll, we embraced the concept that hard work paid off. Psychologists call it "delayed gratification" or if you look at in in terms of perseverence, they call it "grit." Sadly we are quickly becoming a society where happiness and wellbeing is so highly prized at every moment that there is little attention paid to the necessity of long, hard struggle to achieve something worthwhile. Or, ideally, to enjoy the struggle because it means that in the end, you will succeed.
Over the 12 years spent studying personal greatness, I'm always impressed with the fortitude of those who continue practicing, striving, fighting to attain something they really want, and I'm fearful we are creating a society where that characteristic will be a rareity. Recently I'm started setting tough goals for myself once again and going after them. Why? Because I've realized how much I've been seduced into selecting happiness in the moment rather than struggling for something really worthwhile.
Think about it for yourself. What are you striving for that might take time, sweat, and maybe tears, but you will be grateful when you've done it? That one goal might change your life or just the process will make you a healthier, happier person. Going to the dentist is not fun, but I'm healthier for it and probably in the long run I will be happier.