What is your true purpose? What fulfills you in your heart of hearts? These questions focus our attention on the big picture, the vision that we hold for ourselves in life.
Living a life of balance means attending to work, relationships, health, intimacy, spiritual growth, flow activities and making a difference in the lives of others. How we leverage these facets of life determines our sense of balance.
It is inevitable that balance will not be sustained for an indefinite period of time. Our time, attention, and energy are constantly adjusting and competing to meet the demands of everyday life.
We make choices from one moment to the next about how to conduct our lives. Knowing that we get to choose liberates us to do just that!
Balance is never a static or perfect state of being. When we expect perfection in our lives we set ourselves up for failure, which can undermine our ability to move forward. The process of finding balance sometimes feels great and other times, not so much. From a psychological perspective a healthy mind aims for the best and does not attach its self-worth to the outcome.
We succeed. We fail. We self-correct. It is all an opportunity for growth. We are works in progress, constantly adapting, adjusting, and attending to the competing demands of our lives while moving in the direction of our dreams and goals.
Cultivating rituals that strengthens resiliency, optimism and improves relationships, and our ability to manage the many facets of our lives is vital to our experience of balance and happiness.
Meditation, deep breathing, affirmations, visualization, improving communication skills and making a difference in the lives of others are some of the practices that alter the way the brain fires so that we feel more calm, clear, and connected.
When these practices become internalized, they become the backdrop against which we can create our best possible lives. In time roots take hold and penetrate every aspect of our live.
The Ten Keys
1. Start your day with a positive affirmation or intention for the day. When feelings turn negative remind yourself of your intention. Feelings and thoughts are a form of energy that are in constant motion. Allow negative thoughts and emotions to flow through you like passing clouds in the sky. Then bring yourself back to your intention. This will strengthen your capacity for resilience, positivity, and optimism.
2. Practice abdominal breathing. This is the quickest and most powerful way to initiate relaxation throughout the day. Taking five to ten breaths of deeps breathing at a time renews your energy and ability to focus. The breathing also helps us tolerate difficult emotions, be more patient, and brings us back into the present. Best of all, deep breathing expands our experience of time so that we do not have a perpetual sense of time urgency. We can move through the day feeling a greater sense of calm, control, and connection.
3. Keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is strongly correlated with the experience of happiness and optimism. Every night write three-five experiences from the day for which you feel grateful. Notice how you feel after six weeks. This is about training your brain to savor positive experiences, rather than letting them simply slip away.
4. Eat foods that maintain a consistent energy level. Eating nutritious foods will smooth out your moods, keep your energy even throughout the day, and will help you stay on purpose. Sugar and simple carbohydrates will spike your energy and drop you like a sack of potatoes. Complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and greens support more consistency in moods and ability to focus.
5. Build some form of relaxation into your life on a daily basis. Meditation is a potent way to get the body and mind to slow down--but there are other ways. Finding the form of relaxation that works for you will help you to be more composed, creative, and productive. Practicing meditation or some form of relaxation also helps with the exhaustion that so many of us experience due to stress and sleep deprivation--as does more sleep! Meditation does not replace the benefits of sleep, however it can bring its own powerful rewards and added value into your life.
6. Treat the people in your life with compassion. This means to assume the best in others. Listen deeply to the players in your life and actively express your wishes and needs with kindness and authenticity.
7. Spend time with friends and family who support you. Follow your heart on this--you know best what feels right. Delete or minimize your time with those who bring you down or seem toxic.
8. Movement or exercise. This need not take a big chunk of time our of the day or be an elaborate commitment to the gym. A brisk walk outside or even some floor exercises are a guarantee that you will feel happier, more in control, and more balanced.
9. Find your flow and make it happen. Flow also know as "being in the zone" is the psychological term coined by Dr. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. It refers to a span of time in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in the doing of that activity. It is almost as if there is a melding together of the person with the activity. Some examples include, playing piano, painting, dancing, playing a sport, talking to a dear friend, spending time in nature. Time seems to stand still when one is in this flow state. Even if you do not fully experience a flow state, build personal interests and pleasures into your life in small and significant ways. It is a way to activate your brain in a positive way that greatly increases your experience of happiness. Plan activities to look forward to each day. Ideally schedule in at least one hour of personal time a day into your life.
10.Do something for others. Altruistic deeds are considered the fastest route to happiness. It brings us into greater balance with our perspective about the big picture and the meaning of our own lives. Helping others is good for the ones receiving aid and inexplicably fills the heart and soul. When you are happy you are more likely to feel balanced. It can be debated as to who derives the most benefit from altruist deeds--the giver or the receiver.
Greater life balance lies within your reach. Focus on the big picture and keep in mind that small investments of time in the right places can transform your well-being and relationships.
None of the above keys are particularly time consuming. Perhaps you can choose one or two of the keys to expand upon or newly integrate into your day. Remember that the accumulation of small tweaks can lead to powerful changes.