Finding Balance in Life
The Art of Balance
Finding the balance between work and rest is a common theme in our home. We tend to be classic all or nothing types.Our vehicles are either speeding down the highway or tucked away under a cover in the garage. We spend a great deal of time considering ways to better operate within the space and scope of moderation.
Hitting the balance sweet spot is more of an art than a science and requires attention to what is happening around us and the ability to adjust. The desire for balance is easy. Succeeding at it is another story.
First things first. What does having balance mean? It depends on who you ask and to what you are referring to. My favorite definition is a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Now we are getting somewhere.
Being able to walk down the street without falling over is one example. When balance is off we fall over. Thinking about the word in this light gives a visual representation of what happens inside of us when the elements in our lives are not equal or in correct proportion.
Balance is a multidimensional concept. At the beginning of the summer my wife and I decided to take some time off to regroup and relax. The goal was to renew our minds, bodies, and spirits and to perfect the art of balance. The universe met our determination with plenty of opportunities to practice. Thanks universe.
If at First You Don’t Succeed…
Our first attempt was an abject failure. Just a friendly tip. If you are trying to reset the balance meter, scheduling doctor appointments is not recommended. In a three day period, two cancer scares popped up and threw a wrench in our zen. Note to self: survival mode is an extreme.
We did not abort the mission, but this added additional challenges to our search for balance. The only thing that grounded us was our conscious decision to focus of gratitude. More on that later…
Nonetheless, we persisted. It was not pretty nor did we do it gracefully. During this experiment we learned a few things. Balance is not a static process. It is a dynamic one. Announcing it to the universe is the easy part. Achieving balance is an active process which requires more thought and effort than birthing a child.
Mastering balance is continual choice and can be exhausting in the beginning. Mindfulness is the caffeine boost for balance. Gratitude is the whipped cream on the balance latte. Without either we lean and lose our footing.
Last week I took a tumble down my stairs. Only a few bruises to show for it, the biggest one to my ego. For an unfortunate moment, my mind wandered at the top of the staircase. My socked feet hit the stair wrong and I ended up flat on my ass. You’re welcome for that visual. After the shock wore off I was angry for being such an idiot and for not being mindful of what I was doing in that moment.
Is this an extreme example? Maybe. Does it illustrate the importance of balance? Absolutely. Both literally and figuratively. Balance is not a one and done concept. A lack of mindfulness upsets equilibrium and creates obstacles on our staircases. Chaos is an indicator that balance is faltering. Work. Home. Family. Obligations.
Once mindfulness begins to grow the effort is less taxing to maintain balance. Thinking about what you are doing, how you are feeling, or behaving is part one. Enter gratitude. What does the act of being grateful have to do with learning to keep balance? Everything. Gratitude neutralizes chaos both from the inside out.
It is nearly impossible to be grateful and consumed by chaos simultaneously. Gratitude helps balance the scales and refocus our minds on the important things in life. It taps the brakes on speeding thoughts and actions as well as jump starts dead batteries in broken down vehicles.
Thankfulness does always not get enough credit for its power to restore and aid our ability to maintain balance in our lives. Being mindful of the little things helps the big things seem less overwhelming.
Mind, Body, Spirit Connection
The most valuable lesson I learned as a personal trainer was the relationship between balancing the mind, body, and spirit.
Our bodies are in a constant quest for homeostasis, which is the fancy word for balance. When one element is off, the body searches for ways to correct it. This sounds great in theory but in practice is a different story. The process of maintaining homeostasis can cause damage and create issues with other systems. Hello high blood pressure, weight gain, and metabolic changes.
These changes alter how the body works and subsequently how we feel, think, or behave. Sound familiar? Working at the expense of family or unplugging and hiding from reality have the same effect and outcome. All or nothing without any room for the middle ground is a red flag.
There is a time and place for all things. Spend some quiet time considering the where balance improvements can be made in your life. If you are feeling tired, depressed, or anxious chances are some area need adjustments.
Practice Makes Perfect
Begin with mindfulness and remember overhauling everything is not the first step in the process. Set some goals and hash out a plan which will bring balance to the areas of your life that are the most out of whack. Recognizing the importance of slowing down and reducing chaos is step one. Read 11 Ways to Bring More Mindfulness in to Your Life if you need some suggestions.
Next, look for opportunities to practice gratitude. Start with the obvious. If you are stuck, look around your home at the people and things who mean the most to you. Turn on the television. There are plenty of reminders of things to be grateful for there. Also consider the moments when you learn something new or witness an act of random kindness from a stranger as inspiration.
As you practice these steps peace will begin to replace the chaos and the see saw will begin to right itself. My wife and I are beginning to understanding that taking a break does not mean we are unproductive and working all the time does not guarantee success. Nor does scheduling time off mean bad things will happen. Shocking. We know. Balance.
There is a time and place for everything. Continue to be gentle with yourself as you work toward balancing the areas of your life which need attention. When you fall down, brush yourself off, get back up, and keep going forward. Take heart and be grateful that the bruises are temporary.