'Balance' is a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
Balance seems to be the modern day Eldorado. Everyone wants to find it - no one knows where the bloody hell to start.
I'm a classic 'I just want to find balance' kinda person. I used to try and find balance between strength & mobility work (my end goal was always to stop needing to do mobility work.. yeah, ok). I used to fight for balance in my diet, allowing myself to eat crap and then fighting hard to regain 'control', only to yo-yo again weeks later and call it 'balance' (because -1 + 1 = 0 right?). I used to fight for balance in how much time I spent outside vs at work and expected balance in past relationships. It's a vicious cycle of finding homeostasis amongst our expectations - a cycle that we are all responsible for.
What I've learnt to accept through my years of searching and failing, and retrying, and learning; reading on balance and trying..
A constant state of balance does not exist.
My stance changed when I started realising no one who has ever achieved something great did so through balance. No one who owns their own business or has achieved anything worth having has built that through a 'balanced' lifestyle. There can be no 'equally proportioned' when achieve these things.
There must be force applied to one thing above another. There have been times of hardship, turmoil, probably relationship communication breakdowns. They will have experienced periods of time where their days are a delusional fairytale compared to their ideal day's plan.
As I started seeing the cracks in this shimmery, enticing hologram that is balance, I turned to people I idolise for clarity and role models, like Steph Gaudreau from Harder to Kill Radio and Dr. Brene Brown. Two women who influence incredible audiences with the intention of building strong, resilient humans by empowering them with strong, capable bodies and minds. Dr. Brene in particular shares incredible stories of her struggles and triumphs, and in looking to her work, I found an example of someone who, even at a high level of intellect and credentials, still has moments where 'balance' is thrown out the window.
The difference I saw in my search for balance and these people I idolised was how differently the dips and losses affected my life - how negatively I responded to the breaking of homeostasis, and how long it took me to recover my mojo to get up and try again [but that's for another time].
So what is 'balance'?
Management of expectations.
Resilience to return to the desired state after a pitt in the road.
Anyone who appears to have developed a 'balanced life' has built mental resilience - the ability to adapt well to adversity - and it is through mental resilience that they are able to maintain each aspect of their life at a seemingly equal capacity.
Balance is not a constant. Gravity is a constant. Time is a constant. Balance is not.
Life must eb and flow, we must be resilient to the dips and waves that life brings. There is no alternative - because although balance will eb, time is constant and without empathy.
I don't believe it diminishes one's expectations - what we expect - but the idea of balance being a non-constant allowed me to let go of needing control. In conversations, we turn to this idea of balance as a way of regaining control in our lives amidst this shambles of unbalanced chaotic modern day life. But does control really give us balance? Maybe it's not the power of being in control that we need, but to relinquish the need for balance and accept the waveloading of stress and calm.
I believe balance begins with an appreciation for the way life is - unbalanced AF - and the ability to manage one's expectations around that life.
One should be well versed in strategies to adapt to adversity, and through acceptance of diversity, we can begin to find 'balance' in our lives.
One needs to practice resilience. Fail and get back in the ring to fight again.
Practice self-love and have a repertoire of stress management systems, like meditation and hobbies to keep us grounded to who we are.
One should nourish a support system and communicate your upcoming hurdles openly - none of those people we idolise who have 'balance' do this by themselves, they reach out when necessary.
Above all, it requires honesty with oneself to accept that:
a) the situation is challenging;
b) things cannot be overcome by doing nothing, or by doing it alone;
c) failure may be an option; and
d) time will continue regardless of how sheer this dip or wave is; reach to your support network.
Balance, I believe comes from the ability to do what we need to do - prioritise what you must in that moment - to overcome the challenge, and then return to our desired state of calm, collected and content, free of judgement.
Does that mean 'balance' exists? Maybe...
Does it come easily? Probably not...
Do you have to earn it? I would say so...
[Books] Daring Greatly & Rising Strong by Brene Brown
[Podcast] Impact Theory #57 - Mike Posner on Why Success Isn't the Answer
[Podcast] Impact Theory #60 - Jay Shetty on How to Find Your Purpose
[Podcast] Harder to Kill Radio #51 - More Social Less Media
[Podcast] Harder to Kill Radio #55 - How to Stand for Better Health