(This article also appeared in The Charlotte Observer)
Last month, in Part I of this article, we discussed the importance of learning how to Juggle. The process included identifying our life priorities, adding in some time for things we enjoy and removing things from our schedule that aren’t in alignment with our individual truth. This month we’re going to discuss how to build upon that skill set to achieve Balance.
Balancing Life ultimately means we are able to keep the various things in our life in the proper perspective. It’s about making decisions based upon what is important to us as individuals and setting boundaries to insure everything in our life gets the appropriate amount of attention.
When most people think about “balance”, the image of a scale comes to mind. This is the “classic” definition and corresponds to the most widely recognized meaning of the word balance: keeping things equal. We are encouraged to learn how to get all these differing things in our life to equal each other and to not spend too much time in only one area of our lives. While this is a wonderful concept to pursue, it can be quite challenging to achieve in real life. We often find that the scales are rarely equally aligned and instead they are very skewed with one side much higher than the other. For this reason, it’s much more useful to use this definition of the word balance: the ability to maintain stability.
Consider a circus performer on a tightrope. Each performer has a unique style. Some use chairs, some use bicycles, some stack other people on top of themselves and, yes, some juggle! If the “wrong” things are chosen to juggle while walking the rope, balancing becomes incredibly difficult. When good choices are made about the objects being juggled, balancing becomes easy.
That is why it is so important that we stand in our truth and be selective about what we choose to juggle in our lives. We find harmony and happiness with each decision we make that is in alignment with that personal truth. When we aren’t in alignment, it is extremely easy to loose our stability and be thrown of “balance” by situations that distract us from what is truly important to us.
In addition, rarely do different circus entertainers perform the exact same “balancing act.” Instead, they develop a unique “act” based upon their individual, unique talents and abilities. And so it is with us; each of us has unique interests, talents and abilities.
When we compare ourselves to others and how they achieve balance in their lives we are being unfair to ourselves. While we may choose to learn from the example of others, we should always measure our success by how well we juggle and balance our lives in relation to our own, individual truth. When we use this as our guide, we usually find that we have more time available to us because we have only committed our time to the things most important to us.
Another way to think about balance is the image of a seesaw; sometimes we’re down and sometimes we’re up. When we’re down, we’re putting in more effort to the situation than the benefit we’re receiving (after all, we’re holding someone else up in the air). When we push off the ground and we move up, and we’re putting in much less effort than is being returned to us. In either case, we’re still maintaining balance to remain on the seesaw.
Would any of us enjoy riding the seesaw if it just sat in place, perfectly “balanced” all the time? Of course not because if everything was always in perfect “balance” we would be extremely bored. Imagine having no traffic on the way to work each day, performing everything flawlessly at work and then coming home to having everything “perfect” at home. While that might sound like exactly what we desire, everything always going “perfectly” would not allow us to grow on our journey. It is the contrast between what we want and don’t want that drives us to improve ourselves and our lives. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that the “fun” in life comes from experiencing both the ups and downs.
The real key to maintaining good balance in our lives is recognizing that we will be out of balance at times, allowing ourselves to feel that way, and avoiding the trap of being out of balance for too long. Things are going to happen that upset the balance in our lives. We will have a loved one who needs more of our attention. We will have tragedies that occur that will distract us from our normal lives. We will have people in our lives that do things that cause us to loose our presence. How we react to those situations makes all the difference the how well we move forward on our own journey.
Just the other day, a situation developed with a family member that required quite a bit of my attention. Over about 48 hours or so, I was intensely focused on the situation with her. During that period, I noticed several times that my mind was not on what I was doing but on her and what I could do to help her. Additionally, in that same time frame, I had another situation with another individual develop that was a further distraction to “my” life. While I was feeling out of balance, I noticed that as I became more present and aware, I also became more calm. This allowed me to put effort and focus into the other areas of my life which I had neglected during the “crisis” and I gradually returned to a feeling of balance.
Developing our abilities to Juggle and Balance is an important part of our life journey. We’re not always going to feel that we’re getting it right and sometimes we will feel really challenged by our circumstances. As we increase our presence and awareness and make right decisions in alignment with our personal truth, we discover that we are bringing our best to the situation and when we do that, we move forward on our journey.