Do not conform to the pattern of this world . . . ― Romans 12:2
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ― Matthew 6:33
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. ― Thomas Merton
Mature mental health demands, then, an extraordinary capacity to flexibly
strike and continually restrike a delicate balance between conflicting needs, goals, duties, responsibilities, directions, et cetera. ―M. Scott Peck
It’s all the rage today to talk about work-life balance. I think that’s a false distinction given that work is a very important part of your life. So, in this chapter, I’d like to talk to you about life balance.
Living your life in balance is one of the most important challenges while you’re here, and whether or not you achieve balance will dictate the quality of your life on planet earth.
The world we live in is dangerously out of balance. Individually, each of us is out of balance in some way. Some of us work too much, party too much, serve too much, exercise too much, eat too much, rest too much, spend too much . . .
I think you get the point.
The flip side of all this is that some of us work too little, party too little, serve too little, exercise too little, eat too little, rest too little, spend too little . . .
I think you get the point.
The oldest of you munchkins learned to ride a bike recently. The primary challenge of learning to ride a bike is to maintain your balance, something you discovered quite often when you lost your balance and had a painful fall. Courageously, you were willing to get back up, dust off, and climb back on the bike to give it another try. Now, you know how to balance as you ride your bike and can look forward to a life of bike riding from here on out.
The balance you learned riding a bike is a good metaphor for the balance you will need riding the bike of life.
Life is constantly tugging at us from all different directions, and we have to learn when to say no and when to say yes if we want our lives to maintain some degree of healthy balance and equilibrium.
Along these lines and using a different metaphor, Brian Dyson, former vice-chairman and COO of Coca-Cola said, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them –work, family, health, friends, and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health, friends, and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
Using the metaphor of recipes, Stacey Ballis said, “Life is also about balance, just the way recipes are about balance. When your recipe isn’t balanced, it doesn’t taste right. Too much salt, or too little can make all the difference. Lack of acid, too much bitter or sweetness, if you don’t find the balance your food will never be all it can be. The same is true of your life. You need it all. Work that makes you happy and fulfilled and supports you financially. Family and friends to lean on and celebrate with. Hopefully, someone special to share your life with, and a family of your own if you want that. Some way of giving back, in honor of your own blessings. A sense of spirituality or something that keeps you grounded. Time to do the things you need for good health, eating right and exercising, and managing your stress. If you have too much of one and not enough of another, then your life isn’t balanced, and without that balance, nothing else will matter.”
Achieving balance in life is a constant challenge, not something we achieve and don’t need to work on again.
Tina Hallis wisely observed, “Work-life balance is not something we can find. That’s because we use words as if this balance were a noun when in reality it’s an action verb. We cannot find balance because it’s a continual action with ongoing adjustments, just like the tightrope walker who constantly moves his pole to keep from falling.”
Finding balance is a lifelong pursuit where we are going to need to constantly adjust our “pole” to avoid falling off.
Another way we can talk about this is to see it as practicing moderation in life.
Aristotle famously said, “Moderation in all things.” Ralph Waldo Emerson humorously added, “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.”
The point they’re making is that you want to go through life avoiding excess and extremes in how you conduct yourself. You want to live a reasonable, balanced life of moderation where you aren’t taking anything to a self-destructive extreme along the way.
Munchkins, you are already being taught balance by those who love you. You’re being taught to strike a healthy balance between work, play, rest, exercise, eating right, and the like. While this is painful because it means not over-indulging the things you find more enjoyable (like playing all the time or eating all the time), it’s for your own good and is preparing you to go out into the adult world, living life in balance.
Paul Boese humorously noted, “We come into this world head first and go out feet first; in between, it is all a matter of balance.”
Before you go out feet first, try to live your life with as much balance as possible. Your life will be so much better if you do.