Is There Really Such a Thing as Balance?
People talk about balance all the time. Heck, I talk about it all the time—finding it, cultivating it, holding on to it for dear life. But is this mythical “balance” all that it’s cracked up to be? And is it even possible to have? It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately…
For our recent FBG retreat we crashed Erin’s house in New Jersey, and I watched as she balanced (there’s that word again) the demands of motherhood, being a wife, being a friend and work. Seeing it first-hand, I think she does it all incredibly well—even though (and I don’t think she’d mind me sharing this with you) she says she feels like she can never do it all quite right or as well as she’d like to.
She, like many, wish for balance. I talk to my other friends about time and friends and workouts and career and even household chores, and they all want that elusive “balance.” That place where the email inbox is empty, the to-do list is checked off, the microwave is clean, they have more than enough time to meditate daily, and they feel good and strong and centered. I myself fall into this trap often. If I could just [insert life event or big to-do/change here], then I’d really feel good and balanced. If I could just finish this project, launch that site, follow this schedule or get that deal, then all would be balanced. The worst is when I rope my husband into the mix—if he could work less, get that big bonus and clean the toilets weekly, then really we’d both be better balanced and do nothing but sip on fine wine, eat like healthy foodies and laugh like we were on vacay 24/7. Right?
Much like you can’t put off your happiness or wait for something to happen before you feel good or take care of yourself (I believe everyone is in charge of his or her own happiness, baring wonky neurotransmitters and all that jazz), I think we’re actually harming ourselves by thinking that we can be 100-percent balanced—and that we can live in this perfect place where all the drawers are organized and all the chores are done. All day, every day.
I’m not saying that we can’t better schedule our time so that we’re not constantly stressed or do a better job at everything in our lives—we can. But working toward balance as a destination that lasts forever? Well, I think it’s a lot like chasing perfection, which is almost always a fruitless endeavor. (Note: This thinking is also very akin to the all-or-nothing working out or diet approach, which I know from experience doesn’t work.) Life is always fluid, and so is balance. We feel good and balanced one minute, only to be thrown off the next and have to re-adjust. That’s just how life is; and it’s one heck of a way to make sure that we never get too bored or stable—and that we keep growing and learning.
So while I may be trying to find balance in yoga class or my meals, in my life, I’ve given up the pursuit of the mythical balance beast. And I feel good about it—less pressured to be something (or somewhere) I’m not. Instead, I’m me, and accepting of all of the balanced and unbalanced pieces of me and my life. (Hehe. I’m unbalanced.) Hey, we’re all works in progress!
What do you think though? Do you agree that we’re just setting ourselves up to fail by trying to reach this mythical place of never-ending balance? Or is balance a real thing and something to strive for? Let’s hear those opinions! —Jenn