Finding Life Balance: The New Holy Grail
By Linda Nacif
Finding balance in our lives is the new Holy Grail. As the Holy
Grail symbolized the attainment of happiness, so is the reason we
search for this balance. If only we weren’t so busy with deadlines
and projects, we would be able spend more time with our loved ones;
if only we didn’t have to work overtime we would have the energy to
exercise and lose weight; if only we didn’t have three mortgages we
could find peace and get a good night’s sleep. If only….if only….we
could find the illusive balance.
The definition of balance, according to the Encarta encyclopedia, is
a state in which a body or object remains reasonably steady in a
particular position, while resting on a base that is narrow or small
relative to its other dimensions. So, the secret to balance is in
identifying the narrow base that permits us to remain in
equilibrium. If the base is the children, or work, or a spouse, or
religion or recreation, there will always be imbalance because
something will be missing and we might feel alone, unbalanced, or
even fearful. So what is the answer? If we support our life
decisions on values, balance will become the natural consequence.
Values are what you esteem, what you give worth to, and these are
the things that should form your base and determine where you spend
your time, money and energy. How to use values as a means for
Understand that finding balance is an individual process. Only
you know what is most important to you. A way to discover this is by
visualizing your own funeral and what you would want others to say
about you, or imagining you had a year to live and what you would do
in that last year.
2. Write down your long-term goals in a mission statement,
which documents your perception of your purpose in life. To help you
write a mission statement, I recommend Steven Covey’s classic book,
“The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.”
3. Define what is important to you. This work takes a lot of
time and you might have other, more “urgent,” things to do that
can’t wait like that report for your new client or that ballet
recital for your child, but you must make time to define what gives
meaning to your own life.
4. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if you are truly
willing to give up your uneven focus, be it your profession,
children, love, or even excuses for not achieving equilibrium. For
example, although you say you would like to be balanced maybe you
are staying at work longer to avoid going home, or perhaps you
really enjoy the drama or the rush of being under pressure. If this
is the case, it is important to fix the problem before trying to
5. Notice where you are spending your time, energy and thoughts.
Ask yourself if they will lead to your achieving your long-term
goals. Sometimes, things like preparing, reading and studying don’t
appear to be important, but they are precisely the habits necessary
to have balance.
Leave work at work and don’t let your office responsibilities
interfere with your personal relationships at home or physical
well-being. Make it a habit to park your car for a few minutes
before you enter your house to reflect on how lucky you are and the
person you want to be when you greet your family. Reading your
mission statement, a short meditation or affirmation will also help
to keep you in the moment. For example, “I acknowledge the work it
has taken to prepare for my arrival and I will show sincere and
Stay intensely focused! We waste so much time aimlessly going
over past mistakes and future possibilities. Your mind can’t be in
the moment and in the past or future at the same time. Planning and
performing mental activities is not the same as daydreaming about
past events or future possibilities.
Release yourself from attachments. Realize that most of the
time your thinking has to do with aimless thoughts, and when you are
balanced, happiness is a natural manifestation. So, when you are
constantly upset, it is impossible to focus completely on the moment
at hand. In ancient times, the samurai would try and accept death.
They could not become concerned if they lived or died. They believed
that during battle, the moment they became worried about death they
would lose the fight. What greater detachment can exist than the
attachment to living?
9. Learn to say “no” to others, but especially to yourself.
Once you have written down your mission statement, you can become
aware of all the non-productive things you do that waste time and
sabotage the balance you say you want. Say “no” to yourself when you
want to open an e-mail that has nothing to do with your goals. Say
“no” when you start to remember something from the past and try to
figure out why he or she did that horrible thing to you or what you
could have done differently. Say “no” when you want to pick up the
phone to gossip with a friend when you know you are on a schedule.
We all try, and fail often, balancing our work and social
responsibilities. It is because we haven’t taken the time to truly
know what our purpose in life is. Attaining that balanced scale of
all aspects of our life is an art that must be consciously
cultivated over time. Balance is an inner, individual job where only
you can define what is important to you and your unique purpose in
life. Good luck with this goal and please be aware that it is not
static, but will change over time.
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