For the most part, I have always considered it a good thing to “hustle.” The very word conjures up images of burning the midnight lamp, working through and around obstacles, and rising to the top one hard earned step at a time. I think of my parents, physician immigrants from India, who had to re-do their training in the United States and prove their knowledge and worthiness in order to make it in this country. I think of years of education, stressful exams, and long hours to become a practicing psychiatrist myself. I think of my husband who wears the hats of both neurologist and entrepreneur, and in many ways works around the clock to keep both afloat.
Yes, hustle is good, because it often equates to hard work and success.
But recently, I have started to wonder about the trade-offs inherent in the hustle. The press forward is often borne of a dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a desire to get somewhere other than where we are. The ambition and work ethic is important, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting better, and even more sometimes.
However, what are we missing along the way, in our constant acceleration towards tomorrow?
We could so easily bypass what is right under our noses with our eyes constantly focused ahead. Yes, it is true that there are many things in life I still wish to do. I want to write and publish more. I want to raise healthy and kind kids. I want to learn more in order to be a better psychiatrist. I want my start up to be successful and impactful. I want to contribute to my family’s financial growth.
All of these are worthy dreams. But even as I type all of those goals, I feel myself holding my breath and my shoulders tensing. What about now?
In my right now, I have two healthy and happy children who are sleeping safely in their beds. In my right now, I am sitting in a beautiful darkened bedroom, with only my side table lamp on and the glow of my laptop, thinking and dreaming and creating and writing. In my right now, I have bountiful books on my side table, and a journal and favorite pen that are calling my name. In my right now, there is food in the fridge, and patients being helped, and opportunities unfolding. In my right now, I am breathing and my heart is beating.
It is not a perfect right now, but it is pretty damn good all things considered, and I don’t want to miss it.
Perhaps the challenge is that, in the want for different, we miss the beauty in the status quo. We contaminate today’s glorious orange and purple sunset, remembering that yesterday’s was just a little better, or wishing that tomorrow we might earn ourselves a slightly better view. Today’s status quo was created by the years of effort that brought us here, and a dose of luck and destiny. But despite the lifetimes we worked to get here, this hard earned moment could disappear in an instant while we begin working again for all that remains.
I will be honest. I struggle to find that delicate balance between contentment and gratitude for things as they are, and the inherent drive towards growth. Like a see saw tipping back and forth, we might constantly be shifting from up to down and back again, depending on how the light of our awareness falls. I simply can’t and don’t believe that mindfulness precludes growth. Or that success and gratitude are mutually exclusive. In fact, I have to believe that the most meaningful action is borne out of profound gratitude for what is.
In that pause, that space of acknowledgement, so much more can continue to grow.
So today, I invite you to join me in exploring how you balance hustle, with being fully present in what is real and good right now. We can learn together.