By Anastasiya GoersDo you want to live your life in balance? Well, you shouldn’t. I know, it sounds crazy but wait a little.
For a second imagine that you are in a huge thick forest with birds chirping over your head, nice breeze running through your hair and warm sun rays playing on your hands and face. There is a huge oak tree in this forest and one day two acorns fell off of it.
One acorn hit the rock and ricocheted towards a nearby stream, went downstream and finally fell into fertile soil on a nice open clearing. The acorn sprouted roots and grew into a mighty oak tree even stronger than its “father.”
Another acorn fell on the ground and one day strong wind picked it up, dragged it across the forest until it reached a cliff. The acorn fell down but fortunately got stuck between two huge boulders in a little piece of dirt. It sprouted roots too and started growing slowly every day enduring harsh winds, ruthless sun and constant lack of nutrition. It grew into a crooked dwarfish tree that was weak. The bigger the tree grew the more nutrition and support it needed however there was not enough soil between those boulders to provide for its needs. The oak started withering down and losing its strength until one day a strong wind finally broke it.
If you look at both of the trees one would seem like a true masterpiece of nature: harmonious and balanced. The other one will look like a feat of survival doomed to lose its balance from the first days it started growing.
In life we can also maintain two types of balance: one balance is grounded, solid, peaceful and fulfilling. The other balance we maintain just to get by but any unfavorable circumstances can easily knock us down and send us over a cliff.
What type of balance are you living in right now?
Sometimes it’s very difficult to realize what type of balance you are living in right now but it is vital for your own sake and of the ones you love to discover if you are just maintaining a flimsy temporary equilibrium rather than solid balance.
The other night my husband and I stumbled across a TV show called Hoarders on A&E. I was shocked to see how some people can live in 3-5 feet of clutter, junk and old moldy trash distributed in an even layer across the entire house. There is no way to walk around the house, they sleep on piles of old clothes and boxes, their bathrooms looks so disgusting that it is unsanitary even to walk into them. And somehow these people think that they are living a normal life and are taken by surprise when someone reports their house to the authorities. Then of course they face eviction, loss of parenting rights and bankruptcy.
No matter how surprising this might seem these people live in their own type of reality, their own version of “balance.” Over time they get used to the look of their house, they choose not to communicate with other people (so that they don’t feel ashamed of their living conditions and lifestyle) and believe that it’s just a temporary mess in their house that they can clean up any time.
The only time when these people realize that they have a problem is when a major crisis occurs in their family. Somebody gets sick but the paramedics can’t get vitally important equipment to the patient in time. The house gets taken over by bed bugs and the entire family (including small kids) is forced to live in a tent outside because the exterminators can’t treat the house. Or they simply get a notice that the house is condemned and they will be evicted within 30 days unless they “dejunkify” their living space.
When you are living your life with the wrong type of balance a major crisis is the only thing that will show you the reality of your situation. But why take the matters so far if you can find the right type of balance right now?
Of course hoarding is not the only example of unhealthy balance. Consider the following situation:
- Perfectionism – simple joys stop bringing pleasure into your life because you are so focused on the “perfect” that you can’t see past the not perfectly dusted furniture or having a clean car all the time. The “perfect” balance is all about going by the rules that you have created. If someone does something differently you get mad and frustrated. If you fall short of your own expectations (and it happens pretty often) then you feel depressed and upset at the entire world.
Perfectionists often seek a “mathematical” balance. They believe that each area of their lives should be equally developed or should reach an “ideal” balance. This concept is impossible in real life and I have written several times already on why it is harmful to your well-being.
- Work – workaholism is obviously the most common unbalanced approach to life but there are others.
Some people complain that they are not treated right at work but at the same time they are the ones who have no ambitions and never try to be part of a team.
Others complain that they are not satisfied with their job but when someone mentions to them to look for another job or start their own business they immediately find an excuse why it’s impossible for them (the most common one is “it’s just not for me.”)
Unfortunately, the crisis that a lot of these “balanced” people face is losing their job. Why take the matters so far? Rethink your problems at work and find the real reason behind them.
- Poor relationships. I’ve heard so many people say “It’s difficult for me to make friends because people don’t like me or they don’t want to be my friend.” As a result these people choose a secluded lifestyle with few to no friends and a very bitter attitude.
If you want to make friends or be a better friend then you are the one who has to make the first step. If you move to a new neighborhood go ahead and introduce yourself to the neighbors, invite them over for a grill-out or a cup of coffee.
My husband and I were talking once about not having enough young family activities at our church. But then it dawned on us, why do we expect someone else to organize an activity that we want? If we are really that anxious about meeting new people then we are the ones who have to make the first step by inviting them over or organizing a movie night (and since both my husband and I are introverts entertaining is not our thing, to say the least.) Once our approach was changed we met a lot of wonderful people who we are proud to call friends.
- Dating/marriage problems. This one is a biggie. So many people choose to live in unbalanced relationships because they are afraid to be alone or they don’t have the courage to talk honestly with their partners. It’s so much easier to say “It’s my partner’s fault that our relationship is suffering so much” but do we always do 100%, 120% to preserve the love and romance? This frustration over time leads to a loss of trust, jealousy, anger and even gives room to addictions.
Others have trouble finding the love of their life but they are not doing anything to be the person that can be loved. They hang out at bars and hope to meet the right person there. They don’t ask people that they like out on a date but rather live off the “hints”, “looks” and assumptions. They don’t take care of themselves but somehow want to date a supermodel. They can’t communicate without arguing or interrogating and then they complain that the other person doesn’t understand them.
- Money. With the economy being so unstable these days a lot of people have reevaluated their finances. So many of us got used to living off credit that they consider it a norm. But once they lose their job, have an unexpected expense or realize that they simply can’t maintain their lifestyle any more they find themselves in a heap of trouble. A life that seemed so balanced and structured all of a sudden turns into a chase to pay off credit card bills. Life turns into a never-ending nightmare with many zeros behind it. They lose their freedom and they are forced to live in a rat race.
- Health. Did you ever find an excuse to justify an unhealthy habit? I did, many times, unfortunately. When I smoked I thought that it was just normal because everyone else around me was doing it. When I refused to try running I was telling myself “It’s just not for me, it’s too boring.” When I tried crash diets and skipped breakfast continuously (both of which messed up my stomach) I was thinking “I’ll be fine. I’m different from everyone else, it will work for me.” (Of course it didn’t!)
It’s easy to live a life of elusive balance and poor health but one day all the bad choices that you made in life will catch up with you. As a Pilates instructor I teach clients of different age and different fitness levels. The most amazing and inspiring part about being a Pilates instructor for me is seeing older people (in their 70s and 80s) doing Pilates faithfully week after week. A lot of them have arthritis, knee and hip replacements, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and a hundred more conditions, and yet every morning they get up and make a decision to keep moving and doing everything they can to live healthy. If they can do it, then why can’t we?
No matter how balanced or unbalanced you feel your life is I am asking you to reevaluate your life today. Are you a strong oak tree or a stunted one that will be knocked down into the abyss with the next gust of wind?
The only way to live a truly balanced life is to keep challenging yourself and improving yourself. Take a look at what your life looks like and what you want it to look like. You are the only one responsible for your life, your achievements and failures. Your boss, partner, colleagues and family members have nothing to do with your life choices. Accept this fact today and start improving yourself to be a better parent, friend, partner, employee or business owner, neighbor, daughter or son, and person.
Benjamin Franklin at the age of 20 set his life-long goal of achieving moral perfection. He made a list of 13 virtues to live by daily. He always carried a little notebook with him that contained charts consisting of a column for each day of the week and a row corresponding to each virtue. At the end of each day he placed a dot next to each virtue that he violated. The goal was to minimize those dots thus indicating a “clean” life free of vices.
He kept this notebook until his last days however he never achieved perfection. One would think that it was a wasted attempt but here is how Benjamin Franklin put it himself:
Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it. ~Benjamin Franklin
A balanced life is one that you keep improving constantly no matter how easy or difficult it might be at times. If you live in balance that is not going anywhere and is not making you a better person every day then you are lost.
It is time to make 2012 the year of improvement, change, breaking out of stagnant zones and balance and I am here to help you in any way I can.
Keep it balanced!
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