According to Napoleon Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, persistence is a learned trait. Presumably, we can learn this and other traits throughout our lifetimes. It just takes persistence to learn it! I started wondering whether through that admirable trait, we could combat depression. The two wouldn’t normally go hand-in-hand it seems, but why not? If depression keeps hanging on, disrupting your life, perhaps it can be vanquished through a planned strategy of overcoming it.
Mr. Hill wrote that the first step in developing the trait is to have a definiteness of purpose. Knowing what you want, whether it is to lose weight, stop being depressed, or to have wealth, you have to know that for which you are striving. Desire is necessary. Without the desire to pursue the object, why bother? It stands to reason that the desire to overcome depression would be a strong one.
Self-reliance is also necessary. You have to believe that you can carry out, and follow through, on any plans you formulate to achieve those things you desire. Definiteness of plans is a must. Make a plan, he says, even if it is weak and disorganized. Having a plan encourages persistence. Accurate knowledge encourages this virtue also; if you have done research on depression, or healthy, effective ways to lose weight, then you have knowledge. You always know more than you think you know, if you have read, talked to people, watched documentaries, etc. You may suprise yourself with your own depth and breadth of prior knowledge.
Co-operation, will-power, and habit are the three traits left in his chapter on developing this trait. Co-operation with others brings harmony, and unites others in your purpose; will-power is focusing your concentration on your desires; and habit is performing the routines and acts you need often enough that you will achieve your goal eventually.
Mr. Hill goes on to write that there are many factors that stand in the way of our success in developing this trait. At he top of his list is fear. Fear resides in the subconscious and is not immediately recognizable. People stay frozen in place, or put off indefinitely the things that can improve their lives, simply through fear of what ‘others’ may say. I had this experience the other day with an old friend. Fortunately, I do not fear what others may say, so while her remarks hurt my feelings, they did not change my plans.
We were catching up in a phone conversation, and I told her the exciting news that I had finally finished my BA and was accepted into a good school for a Master’s. There was total silence on her part, and I had to query her, ‘What’s wrong? This is exciting!’ She replied that I had done so many things, and had had so many plans, that this appeared to be frivolous also! Going into debt to continue my studies and finally achieve a position in life that is stable, with a reliable income is not frivolous. There was nothing remotely frivolous about any of my other jobs or activities, either. Some opportunities were lost due to the economy, some due to lack of advancement, or obsolence. I was doing the best I could within my scope. Do not fear people like this. They are not the ones who are living your life. Let them support you financially if they think they know better than you what is good for you.
Do not make a habit of those habits that can undermine your persistence. Not knowing clearly what you want; not acquiring the knowledge necessary to carry out your plans; relying on alibis and excuses to put off continuing your education, or starting a business, or losing weight, etc; being self-satisfied or indifferent. There is no help or hope for those who suffer from those last two. Blaming others for your mistakes, weakness of desire, which usually translates to not knowing yourself and what motivates you, willingness to quit at the first sign of defeat, wishing, instead of willing, things to happen for you, or lack of organized plans, and not moving on opportunities when they present themselves, are all factors in keeping us from achieving our goals, or even developing the persistence we would like to cultivate in order to achieve our goals.