In this age of technology, with instant commerce and global connectivity, everyone seems to be busier than ever. It’s difficult to achieve balance in the midst of so many changes and fast-paced demands. But did you know that the challenge of achieving balance is not unique to the modern era? Euripides, a Greek playwright who lived in the 5th century BC, wrote, "The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man."
With all due respect to Euripides, keeping a balance in your life is not very practical is it? Let’s be honest. Being in balance is not a place you will arrive at one day and say to yourself, “Ta-da! My life is completely balanced at last.” That’s because it’s nearly impossible to achieve a constant state of balance. Even when you achieve it, it won’t last long because something will come along to take your attention away and imbalance you again. You are like a high wire walker successfully making your way between two skyscrapers when a wind blows, causing you to pause and adjust your balance. Balancing is something you are always doing.
The 4 Key Dimensions
The goal of balancing is a big one, so instead of focusing on your whole life at once, look at the four key dimensions of your life:
- Spiritual (how you make a difference)
- Emotional (relationships)
- Mental (intellect, mind, challenge, learning)
- Physical (fiscal, health)
When you look into each of these four, what do you see? If you’ve been feeling imbalanced, then consider how much energy and time you’ve given to each of these dimensions lately. If you find yourself developing, nurturing and operating in one or two of these dimensions more frequently than the others, then you’re pretty normal.
Case in point… John responds to the needs that pop up in his relationships, which causes him to spend a good amount of time in his emotional side. He’s pretty dedicated to his career, makes enough money for a nice lifestyle while saving for retirement and regularly works out at the gym in his office building, so his physical side is fairly well covered. Those two areas actually help John feed his spiritual side because he feels like he makes a difference at work and in his relationships. However, sometimes he notices that his learning goals are sitting off on the side. He’s been meaning to sign up for a certain class but hasn’t yet. He also wants to read that fascinating book his colleague recommended a few months ago but can’t seem to make the time.
Or consider Susan’s situation… She doesn’t like her job. It barely pays the bills. She reads everything she can get her hands on to challenge her intellect, so she feels balanced in that quadrant. Her relationships are okay, though, no one’s really happy at work, so their energy isn’t necessarily comfortable to be around. It would be nice to have a significant other in her life again, but the idea of dating makes her feel exhausted. Susan does want to make a difference, but she’s frustrated because her career is going nowhere. Though, that time two years ago when she volunteered for the “Race For A Cure” was really fun and fulfilling. She keeps thinking she should check into volunteering for the next event, but she gets busy and forgets.
John and Susan are pretty typical and show us how it’s not unusual to have a lopsided focus on the four key dimensions, as well as ongoing imbalances within them.
Balance And Perception
What we really want is a sense of calm and harmony. We perceive that achieving balance is the antidote to feeling overwhelmed. Instead, since it’s impractical to reach an ongoing state of balance, what we’re doing is adding to the feeling of overwhelm by trying to achieve the unachievable. Observe nature. When balance is disrupted with a wildfire or a flood, nature can’t help itself. It must try to re-balance.
Much of our overwhelm comes from worrying about what needs to get done and about what hasn’t happened yet. Go with the flow. Expect that there will be incidents of imbalance and simply follow your instinct to re-balance, trusting yourself to make the necessary corrections. You become more proficient at walking the high wire when you practice using your instincts in your balancing act.
Also, give your attention to being present-moment focused as much as possible. When you stop to still your mind by focusing on now, nothing else matters. The moment you’re in is the only thing that’s real, and balance is instantly restored even though nothing has physically changed. You’re still committed to your to-do list. What has changed is your perception.
Improve Your Ability To Balance
So, you’ve taken a moment to be in the moment, and that has helped you release the feeling of overwhelm. You still need a way to actively improve your ability to balance because, if you do, maybe you can achieve the state of being in balance for noticeably longer durations.
One way is to imagine what you’d ideally like to have happen and then set intentions or goals. Go back to the four key dimensions of your life. Once you’ve looked at them, decide what you’d like to do within each and make a plan to improve. To make it easier, you can break down each dimension even further by asking yourself what you’d like to focus on socially, personally and professionally in each dimension.
Spiritual: Your spiritual goals don’t necessarily pertain to your religious goals, though, of course, they can. To most people what lies underneath this dimension is determining how they make a difference. How can you make a difference with others and with your work?
Emotional: Your emotional goals might be interpreted two ways. You could examine how you want your relationships to be. You could also examine your inner dialogue and feelings – meaning how you would like to “feel” about your personal, professional and social interactions.
Mental: Basically, your mental goals have to do with how you want to educate your mind, grow your intellect and/or increase your professional acumen and skills. From the social perspective, analyze how your social life (such as community service, social networking experiences, etc.) enhances your skills and adds to your mental growth as well.
Physical: Goals you make in this area might pertain to your physical body, but financial well being is one aspect of the physical, too. From the professional perspective, this would be your income. From a personal perspective, would you like to have investments, retirement funds, etc.? From a social perspective, set goals that describe how you will spend money on or raise money for social activities or how you would make donations to charities.
Whether you are actively setting goals or simply going with the flow by instinct, balancing is something you are always doing. It’s when you consciously take steps to increase your awareness and improve your ability to balance that you truly become wise.
Angela Loëb is an author, speaker and self-development consultant who loves to study, teach and write about mind mastery, spirituality and life purpose. More at http://about.me/angelarloeb