It can’t be much of a surprise that some of our deepest insights come to us in a state of calm. It’s partly why many of my articles reference ideas being born during moments of reprieve. This particular reflection would be no different. I yearn for nothing more in life than to stroll along the beach at sunrise. I admire anyone who can do that daily. This morning, while walking the beach and feeling the sand beneath the soles of my feet, the waves of the ocean gently caressing my toes, a random man walking in the opposite direction grabbed my arm. In complete surprise, my body turned 180 degrees to face him.
Startled, maybe even a little creeped out, I wondered how dare he and then was curious as to who he was and what he wanted.
“You’re surrounded by so much beauty,” he said. “Please… smile!”
So, I did smile; I even giggled and laughed. As I turned back in my original direction, I felt my face sink back into deep thought, perhaps even into a frown. He couldn’t have been more right. I walk the beach in profound contemplation, and now I realize, possibly with a frown.
Why don’t I appear to be relishing the rewards of my hard work over the past several months, rewards that have now granted me this respite? Why am I not reveling in the glory of my own success?
I often mention fellow practitioners and dental professionals in my articles, not to promote them, but to highlight camaraderie, collaboration, shared insights, and occasionally mentorship, both given and received. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the help I’ve received along the way, the inspiration, and sometimes even the clarity on who I don’t want to become. In the past three years, as I’ve broken out of my introverted shell, the relationships I’ve forged have led to numerous enlightening moments and spurred commitments to change. My meeting with Dr. Chad Johnson was no exception.
Chad, standing at 6’4”, has an unforgettably grand personality I’m lucky enough to have experienced. He is light and he is fun. His sense of humor makes you wish you had a brother like that growing up. Chad has the very unique nature of giving, teaching, and guiding without expecting anything in return. A self-proclaimed BBQ enthusiast, he is quite the opposite of my contemplative frown. He is a podcast co-host of ‘Everyday Practices’ with Regan Robertson, faculty at Productive Dentist Academy, a speaker for Dr. Arun Garg, and of course, a general dentist and multi-practice owner in Iowa. Life brought Chad and me to Miami with an overlap of 12 hours, and despite his exhaustion from a day of speaking, he came to visit me for a talk to remember.
Dental Entrepreneur, a publication run by Anne Duffy, has published one of my articles titled “I’ve arrived: from $100 in the bank to generational wealth in less than 3 years.”
This is the very discussion that Chad and I had in Miami. We have both felt that, at almost 20 years in the profession, after two decades of blood, sweat, and tears, facing many challenges and engaging in heavy lifting, we have, in fact, arrived. Zooming out and taking in the full view of our lives, we have attained it all. We are both successful, productive, and profitable practice owners. We both have wonderful marriages filled with the laughter of our children, or eye rolls, as I have a 13-year-old daughter. Materialistically, we have accumulated all we could or would want. And, to emphasize, when examining our hearts and purpose, we truly want for nothing more.
At this thorough and introspective view of our lives, we have decided that, in fact, we do have it all. We have arrived. And yet our days are still filled with endless meetings, webinars, and far too little time spent with our loved ones. Both early risers, we have a morning routine to be followed by a day at the office, a quick bite to eat with the family, and a return to the computer for more emails, continuing education, and business planning.
We continue to work tirelessly towards growth and are exhausted. We push, we run on fast-forward, and yet, neither one of us can figure out why. More importantly, neither one of us can figure out why we haven’t been able to stop.
I have been at crossroads before; crossroads that have been instrumental in creating change. I’ve been able to change my routine, change my practice, change my attitude, change my ways, my life, my drive. But when I consider where I’m at and how hard, how fast, and strenuously I still push to drive… I lose faith that my fast-forward motivation can ever change. My brain simply refuses to stop. Have I created a life where I am addicted to growth, to change? And has this addiction, in turn, taken away calm and peace? How do I slow down and simply rest on the laurels of my conquered fate?
Michael Singer, a New York Times Best Selling author of “Untethered Soul” (among many others), suggests that the only time we can truly appreciate our success, the only time we can bring calm to our minds, is when others take notice. We gather and gather, hoping that someone, anyone, will notice. According to him, it is in the approval of another that our self-worth and feeling of stillness reside. An interesting concept, and one which I think we have all tested to find accurate. Allow me to illustrate: a few days ago, while arriving at our hotel room, my daughter runs through the beautiful 33rd-floor, 700 sq. foot mini-suite I booked, looks back at me and asks… “Can we afford this?”
My sarcastic mind wanted to say: of course, we can, mama knows how to find a great deal. But according to Singer’s theory, the compliment would have stilled my mind and I would have felt relevant and successful. And though I am not seeking approval from my own kid, Singer was right. In that moment, one which I will not likely forget anytime soon, I did feel like I’d arrived.
The view, the space, the Egyptian cotton said it all, yet I couldn’t or maybe wouldn’t see it, until she mentioned it.
There seems to be an unspoken rule that I should always have a resolution at the conclusion of my articles. And this time around… I don’t know that I can offer advice on something that I myself struggle with. I would rather present to you the idea, that if you, too, feel the same as Dr. Chad and I, you’re not alone. If you’ve gathered all you’d set out to be, and still want more, those feelings are not unique to just you. We’d been programmed to drive and push since the very beginning of our academic careers, and thus it isn’t simple to let go of that heavy expectation of gathering and gaining. There is one piece of advice I am willing to put on display here.
One which I am starting to partake in and one that I pray I can commit to day in and day out; and that is: surrender, another one of Michael Singer’s trademark teachings. Surrender to the feeling of accomplishment. Surrender to the celebration you leave no time for. Surrender to the moment which took millennia to present itself. Surrender to what is and to what isn’t. Surrender and let your mind be still. Still and calm your thoughts. With the stillness of the mind, with a surrender to celebration comes a decreased sense of want. We want more of that which is never going to make us whole or make us full.
We already have what we’ve wanted. We already have more than what we thought possible. So, how dare we want more?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Maggie Augustyn is a practicing general dentist, the owner of Happy Tooth, a faculty member at Productive Dentist Academy, an author, and an inspirational speaker. She obtained her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Augustyn is passionate about reading, researching, writing, and speaking on topics that encompass the human experience, including our struggles, pain, and moments of vitality. Her personal mission is to inspire individuals to embark on a journey toward a more authentic self-actualization. She has a notable presence in the media and is a frequent contributor to Dental Entrepreneur Woman.
Dr. Augustyn takes great pride in her role as a contributing author to Dentistry Today, where she publishes a column titled “Mindful Moments.” She has also been featured on various podcasts and is a sought-after national speaker, emphasizing the significance of authenticity and self-discovery.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Dmitry Tkachuk/Shutterstock.com.