The ultimate paradox in self-development is the interplay between pushing forward and hanging back. The forces of expansion and contraction are essential to life, part of the natural processes in our life cycles. In ecology, scientists will refer to the process of succession, where the species in a community changes over a long period of time. While we always look at our progression as being positive or negative, upwards or secondary growth is transient, inevitably undone by catastrophes such as fire or storms.
The health and wellness industry is focused on evolving to become your best self, but it's also important to understand that sometimes the grind towards the top of the mountain requires you to decompress and acclimatize at lower levels. For mountain climbers, the maxim is "Climb high, sleep low". This comes from an understanding of pushing yourself, but allowing your body to adapt.
An article in the Huffington Post titled "Are You Addicted to Success? " serves as a good reminder of clarifying the "why" in our need to succeed and understanding the brain chemistry behind it.
Dopamine is the brain chemical which drives us in anticipation of a goal, while serotonin makes us feel good and satiated when we reach our goal. Together, these two goals will generate momentum and drive us forward.
These chemicals are very helpful in supporting our progress, but we must understand that we can become addicted to them in harmful ways. Many humantarians burden themselves with the guilt and shame of the world, kicking themselves for not leading bigger lives, but they know that more action and effort is just not possible.
An addiction to success chemicals can drive us away from our inner happiness, as we spend too much time pushing towards our goals. Happiness can be a default setting, as long as we can bask ourselves in gratitude and awe for the universe.
In the end, balance must come in working purposefully towards goals that have meaning to us, but also to understand that the universe has its own purpose and the outcome is not always what you want.
Seeing how this post touches on existentialism, here's a video from Alan Watts on the "Real" you.