Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices."
~ Betsy Jacobson.
noun: balance; plural noun: balances
an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
an apparatus for weighing, especially one with a central pivot, beam, and two scales.
a counteracting weight or force.
a predominating amount; a preponderance.
"the balance of opinion was that work was more important than leisure"
a figure representing the difference between credits and debits in an account; the amount of money held in an account.
verb: balance; 3rd person present: balances; past tense: balanced; past participle:balanced; gerund or present participle: balancing
put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.
offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another.
compare debits and credits in (an account) so as to ensure that they are equal.
"the law requires the council to balance its books each year"
In the mad rush that is life how often do we forget to find balance in our lives? Not just with the tasks that we are involved in but also mentally, physically and emotionally. Life is a balancing act and we have to choose to be active participants in balancing it all.
How do we achieve balance?
We have boundaries.
Boundaries = Balance
And yes those boundaries will make us unpopular, but the alternative of being a hamster on the ever turning wheel has become to exhausting to contemplate any more. Well for me it has, so I'm getting strict on setting boundaries.
With our instant gratification society and always connected social media our lives tend to be scheduled to the last second. With that in mind it is easy to fall into the trap of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). We want to do it all because that is what we think that's what our friends are doing and also we assume society expects it of us.
But consider this - how often do you work through lunch to impress the boss, feel pressured to accept a dinner invitation with friends when all you want to do is get an early night, say yes to the kids doing yet another extra-mural activity on the same day as already scheduled activities, sign up to an on-line class which you know you don't have time for but there is pressure to keep expanding your horizons....
We are all guilty of the above but now is the time to sit down and assess our commitments and decide on what goes and or stays. Even if the initial paring down is small it will add up at the end of the day and you will start to live a more balanced life.
There is a quote which I love when it comes to editing ones life :
“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It's your masterpiece after all.” ~ Nathan W. Morris
No matter how much work is on your desk, remember, as an employee you are replaceable. But your health, precious moments with family and friends, just watching life pass you by while enjoying the sunshine - that isn't. Once missed it is gone forever, so please, take your lunch break. Stretch your legs. Step outside for a few minutes of fresh air. You'll return to your desk after lunch refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon tasks and will also probably feel more in control after having taken the break and given yourself chance to just de-stress for a few moments.
Said yes to those dinner plans? Don't be afraid to cancel if you need to. True friends will really understand and it won't end a strong friendship based on love and mutual respect. Don't take advantage and be the constant 'yes that turns to no' friend but in times of necessity be prepared to risk the wrath. This is the part where you take the chance of being unpopular, but, rather unpopular and rested as opposed to 'just one for the road' and risking an accident driving home!
I know this is a hard one to follow through on because humans are by nature people pleasers. We are programmed to please and we don't like to feel that we are letting people down. What we forget is that we are letting ourselves down. If we don't learn to nurture and love ourselves first then we will not know how to truly love and nurture others. Always saying yes just to please someone or keep the peace will result in resentment and bitterness and ultimately destroy the relationship. In the last couple of years I've lost friends as a result of choosing to say no. I have had to have strong faith in myself and my needs and the right to put that first to move past the hurt of lost relationships. Silencing that negative committee in my head is never easy but it sure has been necessary!
The kids - they don't need constant activities or attention. Let them learn to play in the garden or find ways to entertain themselves. One day they'll thank you. Not today. Most definitely not when they teenagers. But one day in the distant future - have hope people!
I know I'm guilty of signing up for on-line courses that I don't have time for but I do it anyway. I've now accepted that if I can't get to it then it won't be the end of the world. I'll just expand my horizons by reading another book - I only have 207 on my bookshelf to get through! And on-line means I can go back and take it up if and when the time is right for me.
As I move along in this journey of my life I realise more each day that balance is a cornerstone of a mindful life. To be truly present in the moment as it is means I have to let go of worrying about the moment to come, and to do that I have to feel this moment is adding balance to the next moment, whatever it may be.
To reach our full potential during the exceptionally short time we are granted here on earth (even if we live a full life and reach the age of 100 in the scheme of things that isn't even a drop in the ocean), we need to find and keep the precious balance in our lives. We have to have a personal understanding of what balance means to us as individuals but I do believe there are some fundamentals all of us can practise:
- Work hard but remember to play hard
- Moderation - 1 slice rather then the whole cake and if you can't run 5km then walk 1km
- Take time to watch sunrise and sunset - start and end your day with light
- Sit in silence for 10 minutes (this really does work!)
- Laugh and cry, experience joy and pain, be content and frustrated - everything is yin and yang
But most importantly - learn to say NO without explaining yourself.
Remember, not even the brightest star can shine without darkness. That is balance.