“Balance is not something you find. It’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford
With all the buzz in the media about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, you’re probably well aware of its importance by now. There are only so many hours in the day and we can’t always do everything that we want to do within this limited time frame. Consequently, time management has become an invaluable skill to have in the modern world.
While learning to manage our time is essential in establishing balance, what’s even more important is being able to creating a sense of harmony between our outer and inner world.
Our need to find balance is influenced by nature and it’s function in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Through competition, adaptation and other phenomenons in the natural world, it seeks to sustain a stable environment on the planet.
Even our bodies are built to sustain balance through a process called homeostasis, where an organism maintain its parameters within a normal range of values. This is vital to a healthy life as failures in homeostasis can lead to diseases and ailments. We can contribute to this process by living a well-balanced lifestyle and avoiding extreme habits and behaviors.
The word homeostasis comes from two Greek words: ‘homeo’ meaning ‘similar’ and ‘stasis’ meaning ‘stable’. No matter how much we eat, sweat, drink and expose ourselves to extremes, our body does it’s best to maintain a stable and relatively constant inner state.
So when our bodies are so efficient in creating balance in our bodies, why do so many of us struggle to do it on a mental and emotional level? Judging from the escalating levels of stress and intake of antidepressants, it’s clear that a significant portion of the population find it difficult to establish balance their life, even when they know that they should.
There are two reasons for this inability. First, it’s due to a failure to overcome the need for instant gratification. According to Buddhism, The Middle Way, which is a key teaching in the discipline, learning to practice a life of deliberate moderation is the key to overcoming this problem.
On the path of The Middle Way, we can embrace both spiritualism and materialism, just like the two sides of a coin. We can find a healthy medium between a life of healthy indulgence and asceticism. In this serene space, you won’t feel the urge to eat ten cookies or burn yourself out at the office.
Another reason why many people aren’t balanced is because they’re disconnected from their inner-self. They don’t know who they are and what they want out of life. When you know your values, you’ll know what action to take and how to spend your time and energy wisely.
Everyone has a different idea of balance, because we all do things differently. Each one of us also has unique needs, nervous systems and personality types. Some people like to have more alone time than others, while some need more stimulating experiences to feel balanced. Some need more intimacy, while others like to have more personal space and freedom.
We need to apply ourselves to a lifelong process of self-discovery, by engaging in trial-and-error and exposing ourselves to novel experiences, so that we get clued-up about what works for us and what doesn’t.
Here are five steps that you can take in finding your perfect balance:
1. Make a list of your needs and wants: We can’t create balance if we don’t know what exactly we need to feel balanced. Begin by first learning the difference between your needs and wants. Needs consist of the goods and services that are required for our survival, such as food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. Wants are goods and services that are not necessary but what we wish for and desire. For example, I absolutely need to have healthy foods and clean drinking water to feel balanced, and I can forgo buying a new dress or iPhone to ensure that my primary needs are met. Knowing your needs and wants will make you more efficient when it comes to allocating your resources in a way that serves you best.
2. Cut out the drainers: A major component of creating balance in your life includes cutting out the people, behavior and thought patterns and situations that drain your energy. Eliminate junk food and drinks and replace them with fresh produce that energizes you. Avoid toxic people such as whiners, complainers and negative people. If you can’t avoid them, at least minimize contact and tune them out as much as possible. If you’re in a job that does not fulfill you and bores you, think about how you can begin to transition out of it and into a career path that excites you. This previous post provides more ideas on how to strategically eliminate the energy drainers in your life.
3. Create a schedule and structures that ensures that you meet your needs: Once you’ve gained clarity about what you need to stay balanced, the next step is to find ways to consistently meet those needs on a regular basis. This requires you to prioritize and organize limited resources such as time, energy and finances. For example, if you feel that you need to be more active to increase your productivity during the day, you could schedule a morning walk before work, but for that to happen, you will have to wake up earlier in the morning and prepare your breakfast the night before. Look over your list of needs and wants and ask yourself how you can fit in activities that you can commit to doing on regular basis. A realistic schedule and structures will give you the discipline to stay on track.
4. Always take time to tune in: Maintaining inner balance requires that we carve out time to be still, and tune in. That means disconnecting from the noise around you by getting off your social media accounts, putting down your phone, giving your work brain a rest and prioritizing quality me-time to nurture yourself. Engaging in practices such as meditation, personal reflection, journaling and introspection connects us to our intuitive and wiser self. Your feelings operate like a thermostat that keeps a stable internal environment and lets you know when you need to address something to get back into balance. Ignoring or numbing out these signals can lead to all sorts of ailments.
5. Have tools and techniques you can use when you feel off-balance: It’s almost impossible for us to as calm as Zen monks, all the time. All it takes is a hurtful comment or an annoying driver who cuts in front of you, or an unexpected work deadline to send you off into a state of frenzy. Unforeseen events that are out of our control can happen at any time and potentially disrupt our inner peace. That’s why we need to be prepared with handy tools and techniques that we can use for whenever we feel derailed from our calm repose. Fortunately, there are a number of effective remedies available to us, such as deep breathing techniques, affirmations, EFT, visualization, cognitive behavior therapy, and the practice of surrender. This detailed list of techniques will give you more ideas.
Creating a state of balance is a dynamic act, because your idea of what a balanced life looks like will shift with each stage in your life. Be willing to listen and make any adjustments over time, and in the process, you’ll build the strength and capacity to manifest a life that you’ve always dreamed of.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Have you been able to find the perfect balance in your life? What helped you achieve this state of being?
Did you like this post? Sign up below and I’ll send you more awesome posts like this every week.