“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”

Mark Twain

Being curious about our primal past appears to be a universal calling that nudges us to seek to know about our ancestral roots toward becoming enlightened about from where and whom we have come.  We might be prone to wonder from time to time, who do I think I am?  What if by studying our ancestors and family history we might better understand ourselves and be better equipped to face the challenges of our future? Philosopher George Santayana states: “Those who do not learn history’s (lessons) are doomed to repeat it”. Learning from the past and obtaining vision and ability to harness inner powers and resourcefulness including grit, resilience, perseverance and determination for the future might be termed, “2020 Hindsight.”

2020 hindsight is defined by Meriam Webster as: “the full knowledge and complete understanding that one has about an event only after it has happened”. In theory, one is advantaged to evaluate past choices more clearly in retrospect than at the moments when decisions or choice are made. We can conceivably learn and profit from reflecting upon knowledge gained from personal experience and knowing family history taken into consideration in forging decisions and actions in our future. Taking the time to explore our roots searching for family secret wisdom hints helpful in using our unique resourcefulness of tapping grit and resilience wisdom might well offer be a short cut worth considering as a substitute for having to learn to master these skills,” the hard way,” on our own.

With 2020 hindsight derived from the wisdom and life lessons gained from study of my family’s past, including previously unknown family secrets. I am convinced based on my personal life experience that the study of our ancestors and their character offers potential enrichment. Learning about how our very own ancestors handled circumstances calling forth grit, resilience, persistence and determination just might come in handy when one is called upon to create a personal response to adversity. Besides, who wouldn’t want to equip youngsters of the future generation with an advantage of grittiness? By closely examining our ancestors of note we scan the family trees and look for interesting and inspirational stories. We might hope to find relatives of our past who exhibited extraordinary accomplishments that distinguish them and therefore might even make us proud, and ultimately boost our self-confidence.

Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is well known as he chronicled his extreme experiences calling for gritty resilience as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate. Frankl called attention to the traits of those who survived the inhumane conditions noticing that character had a well formed self-transcendent purpose in their lives striving forward in the hopes of being reunited with loved ones.

My Swedish role model of grit, Grandma Maja met the challenges she faced in the shipwreck conditions of the Great Depression with transcendent conviction. Through it all, Maja was driven to pick up the pieces of what became a shattered Swedish-American dream and moving beyond grief and loss pursue her destiny. She came to America and left her family behind to pursue a life caring for her family explicitly bent on preparing her three children to learn and practice grit and resilience, rugged individualism skills. It was this ongoing commitment and determination that persistently propelled Maja and her family forward united and bonded together as a team.

Adversities are an inherent part of the fabric of human existence, consequently, our ability to overcome hardships and take action against slim odds has always been crucial for the survival of our species, as well as for the development of modern society.

Today, reportedly in some Swedish schools,’ students are invited to practice grit and resilience encouraged daily by: “accepting challenging goals, persisting and trying again. And again. Teachers claim: “Schools can be the perfect greenhouse for grit.” Pursuing the ability to embrace, practice and call upon grit and resilience tools is an enduring global phenomenon of remarkably high interest and high priority to society. There are some who believe that grit and resilience are passed along in one’s DNA. Heredity vs environment is an ongoing debate that points to the question: can traits like grit and resilience be learned? Or, is it a matter of receiving these assets in one’s genes?

What are the intentional lessons about grit and resilience we choose to pass on to our children and grandchildren? What lessons we learned about adversity and resilience can benefit others? By studying our family history and describing it to youth we reinforce the validity of pursuing wisdom gained by appreciating our ancestors and our roots as told and retold via stories passes along from one generation to the next.

Published by Donnie: An Admiring Grandson

Living an inspired life modeled after my Grandma Maja, who stepped up as a Swedish immigrant widow and mom of 3, facing America’s Great Depression while demonstrating uncommon grit and valor. I am determined to share her life lessons so she is no longer forgotten. I have a book to share and the reader will preview the entire story by visiting here. You are most welcome.

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