We have all heard that we need to maintain balance, have a work life balance and many other iterations, but what does it actually mean? What is a balanced lifestyle and more importantly, Why is a balanced lifestyle important?
What is a balanced lifestyle?
Hoping not to muddy the waters further, a balanced lifestyle is going to look and feel different for everyone. What is a healthy holistic naturally balanced life for me, may be totally unnatural and unhealthy and therefore unbalanced for you. The beauty of human existence is the fact that we are all totally unique and we have free will to choose what to do with our lives. How we find joy, how we express our emotions, how we relate to others is going to be different for each of us.
Why is it different for each of us?
The natural joys, dreams, hopes and fears that make up you as an individual are shaped and crafted dependent on the experiences you have had to date. For example one person may find absolute joy in discovering a caterpillar on a leaf in the garden, whereas another person may run terrified, the reasons could be anything but likely to be that the first person remembers a time in life associated with caterpillars that bring back warm and happy memories whereas the second person remembers his/her little brother laughing with delight as s/he found half a caterpillar in the remaining salad on his/her plate! That is why it is also important that we do not judge others.
It is not for us to judge what is the correct and right manner to lead life and find our place. The quickest way ever to unbalance your life is to lead it as others think you should rather than what you know is correct for you!
So how do I know what balanced means to me?
To determine if your life is balanced and to what extent there are some broad terms that will apply to each of us, the importance of them and how much they impact your life is something that only you will know. This is truly the time to be honest with yourself and to let that ‘gut feeling’ or nagging ‘little voice’ be heard. It is my belief we all know what is right for us but the issue is allowing ourselves to be true to our inner nature. This isn’t about making excuses for doing wrong or to get our own way, it is about putting in place the keystones to make our life better, being true to ourselves and through doing so we having a much more positive impact on others. We know the difference between right and wrong, what will be good for us, our loved ones and our community and we know that when we do something out of selfishness or anger there are consequences, or karma. Therefore when looking at your life and determining the natural balance we must also be mindful of the impact on others.
Step One: Balance Indicators – Motivation
Are you Internally or Externally Motivated – How do you live your life and which style gives greater joy?
- get joy by interacting with others,
- doing things for others and spend more time doing for others than they do for themselves,
- enjoy and often need to be surrounded by others,
- usually love the limelight and appreciate being appreciated,
- doing things in an external manner brings them happiness and makes them feel good,
- the things they do for others also makes others feel good (so as not to be confused with interfering)
- they can at times overwhelm themselves by taking on too much
- they still wish to do things for their loved ones or community but in a quiet way keeping in the background.
- prefer individual tasks and one to one discussions
- if put in the spotlight they feel anxious and nervous and this can trigger fight or flight
- prefer close connections with a few chosen people
- loyalty is immense as is their grief should a close connection betray them
- they are homemakers and enjoy times of quiet solitude
- they need to be careful that internal motivations do not lead to socially excluding themselves
Internal and External are broad terms – what’s the significance?
External and internal are very broad terms and we could list their sub-meanings on many pages. I want to make clear we are not talking in astrological or fortune teller terms, but in social psychology and the nature of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. If you are not true to what motivates you and which influence has the most impact on you as an individual you run the risk of being unbalanced because you are not being true to your personality.
The Balance Tree – A Zen reference.
The above photograph shows the way that I prefer to look at a balanced life. It shows the many factors that link and merge to form you. Body, mind, spirit and soul – leading to truth, harmony, hope, love, joy, peace.
This can be read from any starting point, meaning if you do not have truth balanced, or you know that something you are doing in life is not true to your nature you cannot have balance within your spirit. I’m sure we can all remember one time in our life when we did something we knew was not being true to ourself, whether coerced or told it was the right thing by family or friends. I’m sure you remember the way it made you feel and that it impacted your positivity and dampened your spirit.
Finding balance in our lives is incredibly important. It allows us to live a life where we are comfortable with our decisions, we feel positive about life, we engage with others in a meaningful and constructive way. Balance means we pay attention to our emotional health and knowing what will bring us peace. With balance comes harmony in our relationships and acceptance of others.
Most importantly a balanced life means true acceptance of yourself. Knowing your limitations and challenging them, knowing your goals and dreams and putting in place steps which allow you to achieve them and also being happy in your skin and finding contentment being you.
I would encourage everyone to spend some quiet time, reflecting and determining if you think you are externally or internally motivated. In our next post we will look at how both external and internal motivators can be used to create natural balance and bring positive health benefits both physically and emotionally.