We’re all familiar with the idea that if we put in hard work and time, we’ll achieve the stereotypical notions of success — money, fame, and status. Work hard now, sacrifice what you must, and you will reap the rewards later.
Well, I’m calling bullshit. We have one life on this planet and I refuse to believe that’s how it’s meant to be lived. This narrow idea of hustling focuses on achieving aspects in life that shouldn’t be our top priorities in exchange for things we can’t get back — our health, time, and sanity.
For too long we’ve been told that external factors matter most to us. We’ve been tricked into glorifying the image of success as being an extravagant house filled with flashy things and having an almost celebrity-like reputation. These are the ideas that filled our heads because of the media and entertainment. Listen to practically any hip-hop or rap song — most of them praise the concept of hustling and doing whatever you need to to make more money.
I could think of nothing worse than to work hard all my life at a job that was unfulfilling to then lose it all, or — I’ll just be blunt here —die before I could ever enjoy my money or life for that matter.
No, I believe we need to change our idea of hustling. I love the word itself. Putting in a lot of effort isn’t the issue here , it’s what we’re putting the work into that matters.
Let’s shift the focus of our hustle from the external to the internal. We need to start focusing on what truly matters: ourselves. “Work hard, play hard” isn’t going to cut it anymore, because in the end, we only have one life to live, and we aren’t guaranteed any specific amount of time.
Let’s start with where we’re going wrong and why
The age-old debate: money. Can it buy you happiness?
There is something to be said about money buying stability. I’m on-board with that — without enough money and a wrong mindset, you could find yourself very stressed over matters like bills and rent. A stressed life is not a lived life either.
But let’s talk about excess money, because the stereotypical idea of hustling isn’t to make enough money to get by, it’s enough to live a lavish lifestyle.
A group of professors at Purdue University and the University of Virginia conducted a study on the correlation to an individual’s happiness and their earnings. They found that happiness levels stayed the same or even decreased once a person got past a $105,000 annual income.
Perhaps more money does equal more problems.
But you may say , ”A Porsche makes me happy.” You need money to buy one of those. Or perhaps designer clothes are more up your alley.
And I’m not saying those are bad to want. I’m just saying they’re not what’s most important here.
After the devastating fires we saw here in Southern California, our community was left shaken up, to say the least. It seemed like everyone knew someone or knew of someone that lost their home in the flames.
The disaster got people thinking : what’s the first thing I would grab if I knew I had mere minutes to get out of my house?
It’s a real wake-up call to think about that. When it comes down to it, everything is replaceable. Things are just that—things. But your safety, family photos of cherished memories, you pets — those are what truly matter.
Not one person chose their Yeezy’s or Rolex.
The idea of success has often been attached with being well-known, whether that looks like being at the top of your given field or walking out into the streets to be bombarded by paparazzi. Striving to want the average person to know our name isn’t a new concept, but it may be a warped one.
In the end, why do these people matter? They’re complete strangers. What is it that having your name known brings you? Validation? Because the only validation you need from other people is parking validation.
Receiving external validation from others will never fill you up if you lack internal validation.
People You Went To High School With
I suffered from this when I first graduated from college. I gave a lot of fucks about what Brittany from high school would think of my Facebook updates.
When I would take on a new career or make a life decision, I used to consider what people back home would think. Would I look interesting enough? Would I seem successful?
An ex-boyfriend of mine used to talk about his reasons for getting into the acting business frequently. His driving factor in succeeding in the movie biz was so he could make something of himself and then rub it in the face of his step-dad. He’d also save a bit of that gloating and make sure everyone that made fun of him in his high school also knew.
Both him and I were chasing these lives purely because of how we would be perceived by others once we obtained them. Not once did we stop to ask our souls if these paths truly made us happy.
I wish I had, though — would’ve saved me a nice $25k loan I now owe my parents from a coding program I did. And please consider, I’m a writer now. I never code.
So there you go, the American hustle—working hard at a job you may or may not kind of like so you can obtain abstract ideas that don’t truly make you happy.
Call me crazy but that ain’t for me.
Now that we’ve covered why those notions of success are a huge waste of time, let’s talk about what actually matters.
We only get one body in this lifetime. Think of it as our vessel taking us on this journey called life. If we don’t take care of it now, how will it be functioning later on our journey — say, when were 50?
If money is still a huge concern for you, that’s completely fine. But what do you think costs more? Quality food from the grocery store or cancer treatment? Taking the time to move your body properly or back surgery?
All I’m saying is that we so often put our physical health to the wayside. Our bodies are sacred vessels that we deserve to show admiration to. How we nourish them and the ways we move are going to determine their state when we’re older.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
There’s only one person you can guarantee will always be with you in life: yourself. The little voice inside your head is the voice you hear most often, and if that voice is always criticizing you, it’s worth changing that negative pattern.
Self-acceptance is pretty hard to find nowadays. With the media bombarding us with ads that tell us we aren’t good enough or don’t look as thin as the photoshopped models selling perfumes and burgers, it’s easy to feel inadequate.
But we’re not. The simple fact that we are alive is fuckin’ magical. We all have unique quirks, interests, and skills. That’s what gives us value. Realizing your worth for yourself is integral for internal happiness.
Looking for love in others isn’t the path to follow. Don’t go to someone with your empty cup expecting them to fill it up — it’ll never end well.
Instead, take the time to cultivate a sincere belief that you’re a badass human being. Self-love is the best kind of love there is.
I wanted to include a quote that I heard on a podcast once, but the Internet apparently doesn’t want me to find it.
The message was something along the lines of: If you get to the top of the ladder and realize you’re alone, you did it wrong.
What’s the point of obtaining success if, along the way, you lost your family, friends, and those who mattered most to you? Forgoing your child’s soccer game in exchange for a higher position in a company that could replace you in a matter of days isn’t how life is meant to be lived.
Nurturing the intimate bonds we have with other people is crucial. Humans need to feel a connection, and it’s hard to come by genuine people that understand us on a deeper level. We can’t let those connections pass us by.
Most people hate their jobs because they lack any sense of purpose in the work they do. This is understandable; why waste a large chunk of our lives doing mindless work we couldn’t care less about?
Passion is what helps us wake up in the morning. It’s that burning desire that gets us going every day. Without it, you’re living to help make someone else’s dream a reality. I don’t think any of us want to be a supporting actor in our own life.
Finding work that you’re passionate about is key to hustling for yourself. It’ll help get you one step closer to filling up your cup with things that matter.
“Awe is the best drug in the world” — Jason Silva
awe: noun. an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.
You feel awe in the little moments that our ordinary lives do not give us. When you’re standing at the top of the grand canyon looking out into the vast red canyons. When you experience a new culture for the first time. When you push your body to the limits of its fears the moment before you jump out of an airplane to skydive.
Putting our body in this state reminds us of what it feels to really be alive.
“Once we realize the extraordinary power we have to compose our lives, we’ll move from passive, conditioned thinking to be co-creators of our fate.” —Jason Silva
We only get one life to live. What are you going to hustle for?