I used to think that lifestyle balance (the ability to walk the tightrope balancing family, work, friends, fitness, and everything else life throws at me) and physical balance (the ability to stay upright) were two distinctly different things.
I also used to believe that the only one I had any ability to affect was physical balance. So I went to work adding a bunch of stability and coordination exercises into my workouts, and over time I dramatically improved my ability to balance my body, even in the most unstable environments. Yay me!
But the better I got at physical balance, the more I began to wonder why I couldn’t seem to get my s&!t together in every other aspect of my life. It was frustrating and infuriating. How could balance in my body and balance in my life be so profoundly different?
Turns out, they aren’t very different at all.
It was only after I understood how remarkably similar the two are that I was able to apply the same truths I discovered about physical balance to finding and maintaining balance in my life. And once I started to use the same skills necessary to keep my body upright to improve my ability to maintain a sense of equilibrium in my day-to-day life, things changed dramatically.
What I’ve Learned About Balance
1. It’s temporary. If you were to stand on one leg and get balanced, it would only last as long as conditions didn’t change. For example, if I were to push you or throw a ball at you, you’d likely topple over. This is exactly how balance works in life as well. Balance is not a permanent static state of being that you’ll someday just arrive at and you live happily ever after, which brings me to …
2. It requires constant effort. If you watch someone with good balance as they stand on one leg, you’re likely to observe what looks like stillness with little to no activity. But to the person doing the balancing, the actual experience is VERY active and it requires A LOT of work to maintain. It takes constant assessment and thousands of micro-adjustments within the muscles of the body. You may even see the occasional wobble, but balance isn’t measured by how much you wobble — balance is measured by how well you adjust without overcorrecting. The same applies to life — balance isn’t a state of being where you can stop juggling. Balance IS juggling.
3. The firmer your foundation the easier it is. Ever tried to balance on a stack of pillows? Try it sometime — it’s really challenging. If your life is on shaky or unstable ground — meaning you have no solid grounding, support or concrete goals — you’ll find that maintaining a sense of balance is far more difficult. Not impossible, just more of a challenge. So make sure you do what you can to have a solid foundation under you or be prepared to struggle a bit more.
4. It requires tremendous focus. You probably already know that if you focus your eyes on one point you’ll find it’s easier to balance. So what happens if I ask you to shift your gaze and look up or even worse, close your eyes? Most likely, you’ll lose your balance. Even if your foundation is solid, you’ll topple over if you allow yourself to be distracted by a sudden urge or by saying yes to every invitation out there rather than remaining focused on keeping everything in balance.
5. It requires practice. Think about how many times a baby falls over before they’re finally able to maintain their balance. The road to good balance is paved with many bumps and bruises. In balancing your life, you won’t always do it well but every day is another chance to practice and get it right.
Have any helpful realizations about balance to share? Enlighten us! —Alison