“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton
Have you ever noticed how much we talk about finding balance in our lives? We try hard to find balance between work and home. We try to eat a balanced diet. We attempt to balance all the responsibilities we have. We talk about everything in moderation (which is just another way of saying we try to find ways to balance all the things we want to have, eat, etc.). We seem to know, somehow, that life is about balance, yet achieving that balance is often times very difficult. And spending so much time, energy, and focus attempting to achieve that balance is, in and of itself, quite draining. As I continually work toward finding the balance within my own life I find myself wondering what balance really is…how do I find balance…how do I know when I have achieved it?
The dictionary definition of balance, as it pertains to this conversation, is a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Sounds beautiful doesn’t it? If only the different elements in our lives would be equal or in the correct proportion…but we all know that is seldom the case for so many different reasons. So our job becomes that of finding ways to strike that balance as best we can each day…knowing that each day will be different and as such the balance we will attain on any given day will vary as well.
But that still brings me back to the questions of how do I find balance and how do I know when I have it? It might seem obvious that you would know when you have balance in your life, but with so many fast moving parts in our lives, will we know or will we be so distracted by everything else around us? I certainly would like to think that we would know when we have reached that balanced state, even if it is only temporary, but I often wonder how many of us miss times when we are there, in a state of balance, because our focus is on the next thing, or the things that still aren’t in balance. For example, I know for myself personally there have been times when I have had really good balance in my personal life, but I did not see the balance I had at that time because my focus was on the things I was not doing or hadn’t accomplished yet. In retrospect I can see now that I had good balance but I never took the time to reflect and notice it – I allowed my focus to be on the next thing instead of where I was at that moment. So to answer the question of how will I know when I have reached that state of balance…to be sure I think there is a feeling associated with it, but without taking the time to reflect and be focused on the present moment I do think you can miss it. I know I have.
And even if I am able to tell when I am in that state of balance once I reach it, I still have to get there…so how do I do that? That’s a much trickier question, because as you might expect there is no simple answer. I think it is somewhat different for everyone, though there may be some universal techniques we can all use. I have found that taking time to reflect, keeping things in perspective, living in the present, allowing myself to be human (i.e. allow myself to make mistakes from which I can learn and grow), and a good sense of humor are all things that help me strike a balance in my life.
“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” – William Arthur Ward
You might have other things that work for you too, but those five things are what I have successfully incorporated into my life such that I feel like I have more balance now than ever before. And balance tends to mean less stress, which is always a good thing.
You don’t have to stop in order to find balance. But you do sometimes have to slow down enough to see where you are, what you are doing, and make wise decisions about how to move more into balance.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein