The Balance Between Health, Happiness, and Hustle

Today was one of those days where I had no social plans and spent the day doing stuff on my own. While I like that for about half the day, my extroverted side gets bored quickly. However, when I’m not talking much to others during the day, I end up talking to myself. The question I found myself asking today was, where do we find the balance between health, happiness, and hustle?

Let me elaborate. Not having any plans for the day got me thinking about the balance between health and having a social life. When I think of being healthy, I think of having a consistent sleep schedule with at least eight hours a night, cooking healthy meals at home, and drinking in moderation. In contrast, when I think of the typical “college” social life, I think of staying out late and sleeping in late the next day, eating out with friends at not-so-healthy restaurants, and drinking maybe more than one would consider “in moderation”.

Being healthy makes me happy and so does having a social life. But in terms of the typical “college” social life I just mentioned, those rarely overlap. Yes, of course there are ways to be social without drinking and staying out late. I love working out and cooking with friends, as well as hanging out during normal daytime hours. But if you’re like me and you enjoy the occasional party, it’s not likely that you’ll stay home from a party you want to attend for the sake of your health (unless you’re a pro-athlete that relies on your body for your job, but most of us aren’t).

I strongly believe in the correlation between health and happiness, but I think there is a line that needs to be drawn. Having a healthy body and a healthy mind improves our everyday life profoundly. When we feel good physically, we usually feel better mentally. But if we’re tracking every step, calorie, and REM cycle and obsessing over maintaining our health so much that we cancel plans with friends to avoid eating out with them and so we can get to bed early, I think we’re harming our happiness.

On the other hand, as I recently experienced abroad, being social in the “college” context comes with a price. There have been many nights where I’ve been out late and woken up the next morning with the mental dilemma of being social vs. putting unhealthy foods and drinks into my body and sleeping half the day away. As I mentioned earlier, I believe harming our health harms our happiness. Which is why a balance is so important, and that balance is different for everyone. I consider myself an extrovert, so being social is really important for my happiness because I get energy from being around other people. For an introvert, being social may not be as important to their happiness. I have in no way mastered this balance either, or else I wouldn’t be thinking about this so much.

And then there’s hustle. I’m in the middle of reading Lewis Howes’ book, The School of Greatness. Where I left off, he just finished explaining the importance of hustle. He explains that we need to hustle our butts off now to reap the benefits later in life. But I couldn’t help but think of all the times in my life where “the hustle” has made me unhappy.

Waking up at 6 am to go to an internship after studying until 2 am for an accounting test didn’t make me happy. Biking to work in the summer at a fast-food chain from 7 am to 3 pm, then working from 4 pm to 8 pm at a second job didn’t make me happy. Nor did working at different fast-food restaurant until 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights while also taking a full course load. But by my definition, I was definitely “hustling”.

Having absolutely no hustle harms my happiness as well. I like being busy, having a routine, and feeling like I have a purpose. Without a routine, I feel lazy and lost. Right now I’m struggling with decisions regarding happiness vs. hustle. I’m taking five classes rather than the usual four most people take at my university, and I have an on-campus job that only takes up about 5-8 hours of my week. I’m pretty happy with my balance of work, school, sleep, and downtime right now. But as a business major, I feel the pressure to get an internship as well. And I know that if I do, my health will inevitably decline, along with my happiness.

As a determined student, I will always sacrifice sleep and health before my grades. An internship will probably lead to sleep deprivation, sitting for way too long, and take up my time to work out. I know this because it happened to me last year. So I find myself asking, do I want to go back to that? Do I deal with it for the sake of “the hustle”? Do I suck it up for now because it will help me land a better job in the future?

Sadly, some people have no choice but to hustle. If they don’t hustle, they can’t afford food or a roof to sleep under. I’m fortunate enough that I have a choice right now (thanks to students loans that I choose to ignore), and I’m extremely grateful for that. Those of us that have the choice should remember to be grateful.

Once again, it’s all about finding the balance of living our everyday lives happily, but working to better our lives for the future as well. So that’s the question I was asking myself today; I definitely don’t have the answer to it, but I think it’s an important one to ask ourselves rather than living our lives on autopilot without taking time to reflect. I would love to hear your thoughts so please comment if you have any!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

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