When There’s No Grit, There’s No Pearl

(Read in :03)“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl

I want to be completely honest here. You’ve probably guessed it, but sometimes I write to comfort myself or to explore my own feelings. When I’m wrestling with something big, writing is my way of thinking things through. I dump out all my thoughts and go searching like a pearl diver for words of wisdom.  I hope my search might encourage you as well.

There’s an old saying that troubles come in threes. That would be dandy because it implies they will come and go, neat and tidy, and like after a storm, the sun will simply pop out again. But sometimes the circumstances stick around like guest that has long overstayed his welcome.  At times it’s a long haul and it calls for mental toughness beyond the ordinary. That’s when we need to apply some new ways of thinking.

Where do we find those “pearls of wisdom?”

We all know people who seem to carry around their very own bottle of sunshine despite the greatest hardships imaginable. What is that “it factor?”  I dug for words like optimism, grit, and resilience. Google is overflowing with articles about emotional well-being.

There’s a wealth of information out there for anyone who’s got the desire to become the very best version of the person he or she was designed to be! This particular search turned out to be especially fun for me because as often happens, great insights pop up in the most unexpected places! It turns out that mental toughness, like pearls, can be cultured!

Wisdom on the diamond

Our family loves baseball and for years we’ve been big fans of the Saint Louis Cardinals. In 2006, the Cardinals were in a long, tough slump. They hadn’t won a World Series since 1982 despite eight previous championships. What did they do? They hired a Director of Mental Training, a mental toughness coach, Dr. Jason Selk. What happened? The Cardinals won the Series that year and again in 2011 when Dr. Selk worked with them. Pretty convincing, huh?

Dr. Selk resolutely maintains optimism can be learned and that it’s a huge component of what it takes to endure through difficult times and succeed. He believes that “optimism is what we need to deal with unexpected change, crushing stress, and inevitable disappointments. It’s what helps us learn from mistakes rather than feel defeated by them.” And, he defines optimism as “hopefulness and confidence about the successful outcome of something, and a tendency to take a favorable view.”

What can a pearl teach us?

Pearls are a lovely metaphor. The beautiful gems are always the result of hurt. From an article in the Huffington Post, “It begins with an irritation — a piece of sand, shell or grit becomes lodged in the tender flesh of an oyster. In response, the oyster builds up layers of calcium carbonate around it which gradually becomes a pearl. A small pearl takes around 2-3 years to grow, a large one, closer to 10.”

It’s often only when we look back on painful experiences that we can see the profound, meaningful growth difficult times can bring about. You may experience a greatly increased ability to cope with hardship, deepen your compassion and have more empathy for others. These are all pearls of great value. What a powerful message for life! A thing of beauty can be made from painful circumstances.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways
or truer answers.
~ M. Scott Peck 




  • Gail

    Thank you Betty! Surely we signed up for this experience called life… full of up’s and down’s and decisions. Puts things in perspective…

    • Betty Streff

      Sorry for the delayed response! I missed the email notification that you had posted a comment. Yes indeed, we signed up for life! Like sitting down to a game of cards, it’s all in how we play they hand we’re dealt, right? And you have proven to be a master at it, dear one!

  • Grant Newbold

    Betty. The metaphor of the pearl is a great one for all of us to ponder. Many times I have wished thet some painful thing would go away or that it had never happened to me and that wishing didn’t help much. As time goes on and one can look back on those painful events it is so often that they were the seeds and beginnings of changes that can catapult us forward in many ways. Thanks for your wisdom and the effort you make to search for the info and quotes you put into each of your blog posts. Doc Newbold.

    • Betty Streff

      We are all given thorns in our flesh but we have a choice in what we do with them! St. Paul, my Biblical hero was no exception. We become who we are to a large extent by how we handle the inevitable difficulties of life. Will we create a pearl from it?

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