Lessons on Work/Life Balance from Dr. Mindy Lahiri

By Luis H. Garay
@LuisHGaray

This past break I watched a fair amount of TV. One of the shows I watched was “The Mindy Project” by way of a recommendation from a friend in the CSPA program. “The Mindy Project” is the brainchild of comedian Mindy Kaling of “The Office” fame.  I should take the time to say *SPOILER WARNINGS* may be ahead. If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it.

As I was making my way through two seasons worth of episodes I saw a running theme: work/life balance. Work/life balance is something we all strive for and it has been something that as a graduate student I am truly beginning to value. Watching the episodes I really tried to find lessons to take away. Below are four of those lessons that the character of Mindy Lahiri (played by Mindy Kaling) taught me work/life balance.

Family is Important

In one episode, Mindy’s brother Rishi arrives and announces he is quitting his education at a very prestigious institution to become a rapper. Mindy is shocked for her brother’s sudden career shift. Though at first confused as for this shift, she eventually comes around and supports him. For many of us, family is at the core of who we are. Let us remember their importance in our lives as we do our work in this field.

Increase Your Knowledge on Something Outside Your Field

Mindy is an obstetrician/gynecologist doctor and her work is very much a part of her story in the television show. To be an obstetrician/gynecologist requires a great deal of education and one walks away with a plethora of information in the medical field. However, Mindy also has a great deal of knowledge in another area: popular culture. Dr. Lahiri can quote romantic-comedies at the drop of a hat, is up-to-date on the latest celebrity gossip, and is spiritually connected to BeyoncĂ©. As a fellow pop culture enthusiast like Mindy, I really connected with the character in this. For me, yes, I can recall Schlossberg’s theory on the fly but can also argue the fact that Britney Spears’ 2007 album “Blackout” is cemented in pop culture history. In having knowledge in other subject makes us well-rounded student affairs individual.

It’s Okay When Work Comes First

In one episode, Mindy is out on a date but excuses herself to tend to her patient at the hospital. If you know Mindy’s passion for her work and especially for her care of her patients, this action comes at no surprise. This showed me that not only is it okay if work comes first but sometimes it will come first unexpectedly. Our passion is what drives us and our passion is why sometimes work comes first.

We All Play Multiple Roles

Dr. Lahiri is not only a doctor but also a sister, a daughter, a woman, a partner for a firm, a boss and a friend. At times, Mindy’s roles intersect (for instance, a boss and a friend) but finding the balance in between the roles can be challenging. Sometimes some roles have to come first (as the example above demonstrates with work coming first). One of the most interesting aspects of Mindy Lahiri’s character is the finesse in which she plays her multiple roles. For me, it gives me confidence that one day I can learn the balancing of all my different roles.


What are some tips you have for work/life balance? Any inspiration from fictional characters or television shows? I’d love to hear your thoughts at @LuisHGaray.

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