“I need to find balance in my life.”
This is a phrase we hear many times, from many different people.
We’ve all said it. When we’ve felt overly stressed, lost, or frustrated. When our lives seemed to be spinning out of control or that we’ve traveling down a path we never expected to travel. We saw the solution, or at least the cause, was that we were out of balance. But what does that actually mean?
For many the balance they seek is between their work life and personal life. Many people feel their jobs have become the focus of their lives. Either they work too many hours and don’t spend enough time with their families, or their career aspirations have kept them from finding that one person they could build a life with. For these people, the majority of their time is spent at work, working from home or thinking about work.
For others, balance may be needed between doing for others vs. doing for themselves. Many people feel their life is spent taking care of the people around them, leaving very little time for their own needs. These people often feel that the world just takes from them, while never giving back. Making time for themselves would help balance their lives, but there just never seems to be any time for that.
And for some, balance between indulging in unhealthy life habits vs. healthy life habits is the challenge. Balancing that double-cheese burger lunch with a nice walk seems an impossible task. The more some live unhealthy the less able they feel to make healthy choices. After all, what good is a walk on Sunday if you’ve eaten and drank poorly the rest of the week? Might as well keep it going and just hope Monday is better.
In my life, I’ve lived all three of these “out of balance” scenarios. Some days I felt better than others, but most of my life I felt out of balance in at least one, if not all three of these areas.
So how does one find balance in all areas of their life? Is it possible? Can we really be a balanced person, healthy and happy in all areas of our lives?
Yes you can!
What I’ve learned is that each one of these imbalances is a symptom of a larger imbalance. An imbalance that subtly impacts every area of our lives, but that has become so lost in today’s society that we don’t ever consider it to be an issue. We can’t see the forest through the trees.
The balance that needs to be addressed is the balance between living in the past, the present and the future.
Almost every action we take is impacted by out thoughts of the past or the future. We put in extra effort at work for many different reasons; to get that promotion, to make more money, be successful, to become financially secure. But how many people do it because it brings them happiness at the very moment they are doing it. Does your work make you happy today or do you do it because you think it will make you happy tomorrow?
The need to create a happier tomorrow steals away moments that could make us happy today.
The same applies to the past. Many people feel that by doing something today it will change what happened yesterday. They hope they they can right a wrong or rewrite history by addressing it through actions today. This will never happen. You cannot change yesterday no matter what you do today. All you can do is leave the past where it is… in the past.
Many “people-pleasers” feel so bad about themselves due to past events that they feel it is their lot in life to take care of everyone but them self. They feel they do not deserve to be happy or to have good things happen to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to have good things happen to us. But the only person that can make us happy is our self. Let go of the past and find your value in the present.
Still others confuse being happy with temporarily soothing old pain. By using food, drugs or alcohol to temporarily make your self feel better, you may take the sting away for a moment, but it often leads to deeper unhappiness. How many of us have eaten something because it looked so good, but immediately regretted having eaten it? Or got really drunk with the expectation of having a great time, only to wake up the next morning feeling hung over and worried about what was done or said the night before? Finding an external source for happiness will never work. True happiness comes from the inside… and it can only be experienced in the present moment.
Balance is out there. You can find it. You just need to look for it in the right place. And that place is where you are right now, where the past and the future meet… the present moment.