The search for personal balance is one of the most universal conundrums of humanity. If it’s not trying to find a healthy balance between work and life, it might be trying to balance between who we wish to be and being satisfied with who we are right now.
The thing about balance is that it is not a static, permanent state. It’s helpful to think of balance as requiring movement like the spinning of a gyroscope or riding a bicycle. When the movement stops, so does balance. When we remember this analogy, it’s easier to differentiate between balance and stagnation. We can extend the comparison to too much speed of the gyro or the bike to personal instability. In other words too much speed leads to imbalance as much as too little movement leads to stagnation. The trick is to find the sweet spot to achieve optimum balance.
In today’s fast-paced society as we’re bombarded with information, crises, and calls to action we can feel overwhelmed. Many times this hyper activity leads to burn-out or apathy and escapism. When apathy becomes tempting, I realize I’ve become out-of-balance. This is a signal that there are too many commitments in my life. Then I know it’s time for the some self-reflection and solitude. I can’t think of a more effective way to achieve balance, than becoming mindful of my state of mind and my state of physical activity. This helps keep me from overthinking and over-extending my obligations.
The old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” has the corollary, “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” We humans can easily slip away from balance between work and play. It’s easy to understand how a person can become so engrossed in a job that he can become a workaholic. There is the similar tendency of allowing necessary rest and relaxation to morph into laziness.
Here again, the practice of mindful awareness about our state of mental and physical activity reveals itself. It’s OK to overwork to a limited time just as it’s OK to be lazy for awhile. The point is to not become stuck in either place. There is a need for heightened productivity and the need for rest. The balance between the two is always in flux. Sometimes work feels like torture and sometimes relaxation becomes boredom. It’s great when work feels like recreation, and relaxation feels like necessary rest.
Perhaps one definition of achieving balance is when work recharges us and rest inspires us as much as work fosters inspiration and rest recharges us.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes writer, Nishan Panwar. “Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.”