“Humbleness is the base of discipline.”
– Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Eric Swanson – Awakening the Power of Essence Love
If we truly want to embrace a long-term journey of self-development, we first need to acknowledge the need to improve. We must sacrifice today’s grandiose and narcissistic thoughts before the altar of future gains. I mean, if we don’t admit our faults, then why should we improve at all?
But it is important to differentiate a desire for improvement with a desire to compensate for “not being enough.”
Many people hustle to prove their worth to themselves and others on a daily basis. I fall into this trap often. When I look back on my day, I criticize moments of unproductive sloth – moments I watched Youtube videos, read some news on the Seattle Seahawks (playoffs here we come!), or messaged friends on Facebook or Kakao.
This kind of “hustling” is not humble. In a way, it is arrogant. We believe we should be productive at all times because we are capable of such impossible feats. Mere mortals may need to take breaks, but not us. We are special. When we take a break with Youtube or text messaging, we are not living up to our potential.
However, it is possible to instead strive forward with a sustainable, healthy gait. We can seek improvement and achievement without debasing ourselves from a place of “not enough” or succumbing to arrogant delusions of grandeur. In a way, healthy striving forces us to adopt a middle-of-the-road mindset.
We are humans, not robots. We have shortcomings and flaws. Our actions cannot be perfectly productive at all times. This is not a curse, but a blessing. Resting outside of our routine systems affords us time to reflect, diagnose potential problems, and brainstorm potential improvements. On the other hand, just resting inside of the present moment allows us to cultivate gratitude and positive emotions – crucial qualities for sustainable well-being.
Humble people seek to improve not out of inadequacy, but because they believe they are strong enough to expand their horizons and push themselves beyond their current limits.
But on the other side, humble people also realize that there are absolute limits to their potential achievement. They recognize when they feel tired, rundown, burnt out, or otherwise mortal. More importantly, they are compassionate to their body and mind’s signals, raising their foot from the gas pedal when necessary.
We are weak. Motivation will wax and wane as the weeks wind away. But carefully crafted discipline, stemming from a place of humility, can fuel our mental, emotional, and spiritual engines to realms beyond our boxed-in concept of possibility.
So take a deep breath, keep calm, and carry on.