One of the essential components of mindfulness is the idea of non-striving. To strive is to make great efforts to obtain or achieve something, which often means a vigorous fight to get what it is that you want. Striving is the opposite of the core definition of mindfulness, which is being present, right now, right where you are; noticing and experiencing without judging. If you are striving, you are implying that you’re not right or good enough.
Maybe you’re striving to be a better daughter, mother, aunt, grandmother, employee, co-worker, or friend. Maybe you’re striving for a job promotion or career change. What would happen if you just took a breath and noticed yourself right now, as you are, doing what you’re doing in the way you’re doing it? By being mindful, you take away the need for striving; that constant fight with yourself about not being smart enough, young enough, or healthy enough. You are just as you are, and you are good enough.
That’s not to say you should never make positive growth. A stagnant life can be dangerous for people in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Goals are very important. They lead us toward making changes. You could have a goal of job promotion or career change, but that is far different than striving for a change. Why make change be a vigorous fight? Why not instead look at where you are, define where you want to be, and then pay attention, moment-by-moment, as you make decisions throughout your life that propel you forward? Not only does this infinitely increase your ability to be mindful, it also creates opportunities for you to be proud at all of the successes along the way. It breaks the shackles of striving that seemingly get tighter the harder we struggle against them.
When we stop striving, we stop struggling. When we stop struggling, we accept who we are. When we accept who we are, we become free.