If I asked you, “Do you feel your life is in balance?” How would you answer?
“Yes”, “No”, “Maybe”?
If you’re not a definitive “Yes”, do you wonder then what balance truly means for you?
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.” Thomas Merton
I do and I ask myself this often. In fact, as I’ve asked myself this throughout my life, it’s interesting how the answers have changed through the years.
In my 20s, balance was felt more on a social level. If I had a colorful, exciting, and adventurous social life and the corresponding friendships, then I felt balance. Because although I could be productive at school and work, if my social life wasn’t rich, then I felt out of sorts. Off-balance. Bored. Unstimulated and not making the most of my vibrant 20s which at that point in life the epicenter of my whole existence.
In my 30s, balance was asking if the kids were thriving, and the house was in order, and was the family overall taken care of – feeling comfort, and security, and loved? Had life become too busy for quality family time and taking good care of our health, or was an overwhelming sense of chaos present, more so than the typical daily chaos of life 😊, and consequently saddled with an elevated level of tension or irritability? Obviously, this signaled an imbalance in the house.
In my 40s, I felt out of balance because I was trying to figure out who Teri had become over the last decade of motherhood. I’d put parenting at the center of my universe and was glad to do it. I had chosen to have kids, and it was my responsibility to help teach the tools for them to be the best person they could be. As I witnessed the success of those crucial developmental years and watched my children bloom, I began to casually assess the new version of Teri I had grown into. How do I fit in with life around me? What are my wants? How can I make the world a better place? What is my contribution? How can I utilize my skills and gifts to create a positive impact in the world?
What I have realized is that balance is not one thing, or a concrete thing, or an absolute law that applies to everyone in the same way. Balance is not only subjective, it’s situational, and it’s temporary.
Let me say that again, it’s temporary.
Good news is that if we feel out of balance, it’s not permanent, and we can learn to move through the imbalance quickly and with more efficiency. How? With practiced awareness of the imbalance.
Imbalance gets a bad wrap when it’s actually a beautiful gift that’s rarely appreciated. It’s a sign that a part of our life needs attention.
See, what I’ve realized in my life is that balance, does not mean equal time and effort and attention for all our interests and responsibilities at the same time. No, it’s not just certain seasons that demand more attention for one thing over another, it’s month to month, week to week, and day to day. It’s even more. It’s moment to moment.
We cannot do it all and be all to everyone and everything at every moment. But we can spread our time and energy among our priorities and depending on the situation, one may require more time and energy. All we can do is our best to not grossly neglect the people or responsibilities that matter the most to us.
Conversely, if we end each-and-every day in complete exhaustion. If our mental, physical or emotional health suffers. If our relationships suffer. If our work suffers. There may be an extreme imbalance that requires immediate attention, assessment and adjustment. Reduce or eliminate where possible.
What I’ve also learned is that by making it a habit to scan my inner world (body, mind & spirit), AND my outer world (people who fill my life) I can make smaller, more reasonable adjustments to make the necessary choices that return me to my center of comfort and a feeling of contentment before it’s gotten to a point of desperate necessity.
Now, I would never suggest that at times I don’t stray from the present moment and lose focus and my world gets filled with chaos, exhaustion and anxiety. But with consistency, when this happens, I get a verbal flick that grabs my attention and sets me back on track. This is much better than the nasty slap in the face I used to get in the past when I ignored the signs and was lazy in scanning my life situation and making healthy adjustments.
If you struggle to feel a sense of harmony in the sea of life’s numerous responsibilities, here’s a few suggestions that have worked well for me.
- Make the intention to scan yourself at the end of every day for your overall sense of comfort, joy, satisfaction you feel from your day.
- Take note of any reoccurring interruptions, disruptions, and repeat offenders, people, places or things, that create chaos, confusion or disorder.
- Assess the necessity, importance and critical value of the intrusion that is robbing time and energy, and would be better used in other areas of your life. Most definitely, minimize responsibilities that not enriching your life enough to be worth the sacrifice.
At the end of the day, we’ve got to realize how we’ve spent the world’s most precious commodity. TIME!
We all are given the same amount and the richness of our life is how we spend it among the people, places and things most precious to us. Then, and only then, are we capable of feeling balance and it’s beautiful, accompanying gift of harmony.
Keep it Simple,