Big Toe in the Water

Are you pushing too hard?

Are you pushing too hard?

“Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” That’s what the voice-over says in this video of an injured Kerri Strug completing her famous vault at 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I invite you to watch with the sound off, and just notice the look on Strug’s face.

Do you push through at all costs to your health?

My Mother had to take a train and walk up many steep iron stairs every day to get to work. When she was only 58 years old, this commute became exhausting. She didn’t know at the time that she had metastatic cancer, and it was in her lungs.

One day, when my Mother was in the hospital fighting for her life, I asked her what was on her mind. She replied, “I haven’t had a sick day in over seven years, and now my record is broken.”

Even after she was diagnosed, she still forced herself to go back to work. She was so tired that, when she had to make copies of a report, she needed to sit on the floor next to the copy machine to rest. Can you imagine the dedication and the determination of an employee like that who needed to work to pay her bills?

My Mother never smoked, rarely drank any alcohol, exercised, was at her “ideal” weight, and died at the age of 58.

We practice Mindfulness as if our life depends on it because our life depends on it.

It is a practice of paying attention, moment by moment, with non-judgment to notice how we are feeling and be aware of when we need to take a rest.

It is a practice of compassion.

I try very hard to practice what I teach.

And yet this “strength,” this work ethic, is hardwired within me. Is that “push through at any cost” hardwired within you too?

Ironically, I was in global health, loving my position, and working myself way too hard. At the age of 56, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis. I remember my doctor saying to me, “I’ve never seen anyone this old get mono.” I thought it was a compliment.

I was completely exhausted. I took just one week “off” to recover. But even then, I got online and did some work to stay caught up.

I remember a colleague at the time telling me that, when they were feeling ill, they “usually just push through it.”

Two days before turning 58, I left my corporate job to focus on teaching people about the practice of Mindfulness. My sister said, “You know this is a birthday gift from Mom, don’t you?” I did.

Are you pushing through a bit too hard? If so, at what cost to your life?

I’m going to encourage you to place the oxygen mask on your face first. To rest when you need rest. Especially right now. And tomorrow too.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” — Hermann Hesse

Photo credit: Unsplash, Miguela Amutio

Harriet Stein brings Mindfulness Programs to organizations of all sizes to transform employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.


Mindfulness is now being incorporated by organizations to lower healthcare costs, support employees in staying focused which improves their performance, and reduce levels of stress.



Provide a life-changing program for your employees and create a healthier more collaborative and engaged workplace.



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