Today, whether you've realized it or not, you've done a lot of balancing. Maybe you've done some yoga and balanced on your hands or on one foot, but that's not the type of balancing I'm talking about. What I'm referring to is how you've balanced your schedule throughout the day: managing your work obligations, running personal errands, evaluating spontaneous social opportunities, reacting to urgent situations, and hopefully, blocking off some time for self care. Depending on how well you balanced everything, you probably felt either productive or overwhelmed, calm or anxious, happy or frustrated. Basically, you either felt bad or you felt good.
It feels good to be balanced, and with the mindfulness boom of the 21st century, I've noticed our cultural attitudes are shifting. Many of us are beginning to see the connection between balance and overall well-being. While still prevalent in certain circles, perspectives like working 80 hour weeks or eating restrictive diets like Atkins (NPR's worst diets of 2015), seem to be dwindling from the mainstream. The extreme ideals are being replaced by balance related messages like "make sure to keep a healthy work / life balance" and "eat a balanced diet." Remarkable people from our time have begun to speak to how balance has helped them flourish. My favorite quote being one from John Wooden who said "next to love, balance is the most important thing."
So if the key to our well-being lay not in the extremes, but rather in balance, the remedy for some of our existential woes is simple: we should go out and live more balanced lives. But what exactly does a balanced life look like? More specifically, what exactly does a balanced life look like for you?
I think it's a tricky question to answer for two reasons: Everyone is different and everyday you feel different. Therefore, not only does everyone in your life have a balance equation that differs from yours, but your personal balance equation is also changing every day. That means you can't copy your neighbor -- pizza and beer might work great as a diet for them today, but you need to drink green juice and eat yogurt -- and you can't assume you can replicate what you did previously. As an example, just because last week you worked 20 hours and it felt great, working 20 hours this week won't necessarily give you the same sense of a balanced week. The answer to your balance equation is never the same.
Because a balanced day is ever shifting and impossible to copy, the only way to solve your personal balance equation is to turn to your inner wisdom -- that voice inside you that tells you exactly what you need. It tells you when you need exercise and when you need rest, when you need donuts and when you need kale, when you need to work and when you need to play. When you block out the screaming sounds and suggestions from the world and listen to your intuition, you can tap into the joyous equilibrium of a balanced mind, body and soul.
At Ch'i, we think the key to keeping your balance, is being able to recognize when you're losing it. It's easy to do on the yoga mat, because if you lose your balance you fall over. But in life, being out of balance is often much more subtle. You're not always falling over, but maybe you're slipping a little bit day after day. As you finish reading this article, hopefully a bit more in tune with yourself than when you began, I ask you to think about what might be out of balance in your life. What would you like to be doing more of? What would you like to be doing less of? What would you like to add or remove from your days?
Be well, friends!