“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~Thomas Merton
A lot you read and hear is about leading a balanced life. What does that mean? And how does one achieve such a thing? In a day and age when we are over stimulated, overcommitted, and all striving for success, how does this get accomplished?
There various elements of life that can require balancing. Here are some suggestions to find the mix that works best for you.
To start, what does it mean to be balanced?
It means that you have a handle on the the various elements in your life and don’t feel that your heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated.
How do you find your balance?
The elements in life that require the most balancing can be divided into two categories: internal and external. Oftentimes, people focus on one more than the other.
For example, you may find that you focus on external things, like work, relationships, and activities, and that you pay very little attention to what is going on inside your heart and mind.
On the other hand, you may find that you spend so much time being self reflective that you sometimes miss out on the experience of living.
Other people may be fairly balanced between the two but might want to balance out some specific elements within each category; so I created this little outline to help us better understand the beneficial components on both ends of each spectrum.
Internal (Mind, Heart, Health)
- Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually vs. creating opportunities for your mind to rest
- Heart: Giving love vs. receiving love
- Health: Eating, drinking, exercising properly vs. resting and treating yourself to some extra yummies
External (Work, Social, Family, Fun)
- Work: Pushing yourself to achieve goals vs. seeing the bigger picture and enjoying the ride
- Social: Satisfying your social desires vs. taking time for yourself
- Family: Fulfilling your familial responsibilities vs. creating healthy boundaries
- Fun: Allocating time for things you enjoy doing vs. making sure you don’t overdo it
As you can see, both ends of each spectrum are actually positive; but if either side is taken to an extreme, something that is intended to be positive can end up being detrimental.
It’s helpful to check in with yourself to see if you feel balanced.
If you feel pulled in any one direction and uneasy about it, these steps may help you get your life aligned:
Take some time to really look at your life, your state of mind, and how you’re feeling. Be honest with yourself and notice the areas of your life that you’re neglecting.
Notice if you’re leaning more toward an internal or external focus, or if there are areas within each category that you would like to be more balanced.
- Set Goals.
Look at the outline to help you decide which ways you want to balance your life. Make a list.
- Plan Tasks.
Make a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that you will need to do to achieve each of these goals. What have you tried in the past? Did it work? If not, what can you do differently?
What is the most important thing you’ve accomplished in the past? How did you stay focused toward this goal? How did you handle your fears, doubts, anxieties, worries, and negative self-talk? How does it feel to know that you accomplished the goal in spite of these parts of yourself?
What is your inner “stuff” that will try to keep you from sticking to your plan (fears, worries, doubts, negative self talk)? Can you specify the things you will say to yourself to push you off track? (For example: “Just one more bite, I’ll start eating better tomorrow”) Make a list.
What do you need to remember in those times? What are things you can say to that self-sabotaging part of yourself? Be kind to yourself. Balance won’t feel good if you’re cruel to yourself in creating it!
Is there a person or a tactic you can use to keep yourself supported, motivated, and focused in those hard times? I highly recommend connecting and sharing your inner process with someone. Find someone who can help you challenge your inner demons, and celebrate your little accomplishments.
Just like accomplishing any goal in life, it takes time and effort to overcome your habitual patterns and create new ones. If you stay on track with this detailed and intentional process for three whole months, then there is a good chance you will create new habits to enjoy a more balanced life going forward!