5 Considerations for Living a Balanced Life
When life seems like a juggling game, you might start to have a sense of moving through daily routines like a hamster on a wheel. Going from thing to thing with a sense of having to struggle to fit it all in robs you of meaning and joy. You slide over experience in a superficial way. What could be moments of meaning or joy become items on a list of tasks.
A common solution to this angst is to pin your hopes on your upcoming vacation. You think, “Then I will be able to slow down and have fun.” But your vacation comes and you spend more of it then you would like recovering from the juggling routine.
You long for a balanced life, for daily life to have a sense of meaning and joy. Making changes to create a balanced life occurs both in daily decisions and in an examination of how you have organized your life as a whole. Both require you to reflect on what’s happening and what really works. Five aspects of life can be particularly helpful to pay attention to when you take time to reflect:
1. Nourishment: Consider the quality of nourishment you take in
In the context of Mindful Compassionate Dialogue, nourishment is a broad term meant to refer to engagement with that which supports your thriving. This type of nourishment applies to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of experience. High-quality nourishment meets a bundle of important needs over repeated experiences but isn’t always immediately pleasurable or fun. Joining a spiritual community is a good example. Joining a new community is often accompanied by anxiety, awkwardness, or discomfort. It likely isn’t fun or even very pleasant at first, and yet you feel drawn to a community that is a fit for you. There is something in you that comes alive or comes forward. Over repeated experiences, a community that is a fit for you likely meets a bundle of needs, like inspiration, support, beauty, discovery, meaning, regulation, being seen and heard, connection, and orientation to what matters most.
It’s essential to examine sources of nourishment in your life and whether or not they are really fulfilling for you. When you find they are not, it might mean choosing something completely new or it might mean changing the way you engage with that source of nourishment.
2. Responsibilities: Say “yes” and say “no”
Examining your responsibilities means looking through the lens of ongoing responsibilities as well as new things that come up in a given day. It’s helpful to examine what you have been doing long-term and investigate whether that involvement meets needs for you now or not. In daily life, it’s useful to form the habit of creating a pause between someone’s request of you and your answer. Both examination of long-term commitments and pausing in daily life can help you get clear about the most common forms of reactivity associated with saying “yes” or “no” to responsibilities. These are:
A sense of obligation or duty (“shoulds”)
A drive to try to earn love, respect, belonging, etc., through proving or achieving
An attempt to live up to your own or someone else’s standards
3. Zoom out: Consider the imbalance and unrealistic standards of larger society
As much as you are an autonomous individual, you are also swimming in the systems of the larger culture in which you are embedded. Simply identifying the particular ways in which systems are not set up to support human thriving can help you access more agency regarding your engagement and role within them.
4. Comparing: Consider how you might be unfairly comparing yourself to others
In a media-rich world, there are many people you might be tempted to compare yourself to. When you value the contribution of certain individuals in your field of work, you might be especially tempted to label yourself as lacking or not enough in some way.
You can only do what’s in front of you. You can only work from the strengths and resources to which you have access.
Create the practice of reminding yourself that you are doing what is yours to do and that your contribution matters. This practice is supported by eliciting feedback and reflecting how you bring joy, love, or meaning to others.
5. Resource allocation: Examine where you are investing your energy, time, and money
Checking in on allocation of resources is similar to evaluating quality nourishment. In a world that encourages the delusion of happiness through material things, it can be easy to become entranced by high-quality stuff. Another version of this is inaccurate assessment of comfort. This usually involves buying that extra something, imagining that if you were a little more comfortable, then … These thoughts are not usually very conscious; but rather, simply arise out the natural impulse to move toward pleasure. Resources used to move toward the delusion of more comfort and short-lived pleasure distract from that which supports a thriving life.
Reflecting on these five things can help you make decisions toward creating a balanced and thriving life. You might find yourself making changes little by little or all at once. These changes are likely a mix of external circumstances and internal realizations or shifts in perspective.
Take a moment now to read through the five considerations and notice if one particular area sparks your interest. Set your intention to take focused time to journal, talk about it with someone you trust, or simply sit with the topic.