Hope, She Wrote: On Living a Balanced Life
Balance. It’s a difficult thing to achieve. A couple of months ago I wrote about five ways to practice slowness. Part of living more slowly [aka more fully] is learning to live a balanced life.
Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to practice “everything in moderation” – with food, exercise, studying, lifestyle, work, – knowing that taking any one thing to the extreme isn’t healthy. I haven’t always taken their advice, and more recently have learned the hard way that sometimes when you’re living out of balance, life has a way of forcing you to stop and take things into account. There is only so long that you can burn the candle at both ends, so to speak.
Between a career, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends, balance often eludes us. So how do we learn the art of balance? Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful (and am still learning) for living in moderation:
- Set challenging [but achievable] goals: Whether personally or professionally, it’s important to set goals for yourself that will help you grow as a person, but that aren’t extreme or unachievable. Habitually working towards a goal will help you stay focused on the task at hand and on the right track. We tend to put our energy into the right things when we have a proper focus.
- Don’t be ashamed about having “free” time: I recently read an insightful article in Forbes magazine on this very subject – that ‘free’ time should not mean ‘available’ time. We all need some hours on our schedule that aren’t open for others. Balance can’t be achieved with the bad word “busy”. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about having free time – we all need some time to “just be” in order to stay balanced.
- Remember to rest and live your best: In the middle of chasing goals and dreams, don’t forget to rest. The average person needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep to operate at 100 percent. In addition, proper nutrition and exercise are two keys to living a balanced life. Many people practice the 80/20 principle: Eating right and exercising regularly 80 percent of the time, and giving yourself a break for the other 20 percent.
Living in moderation is something learned as we grow through life. Balance doesn’t just happen; like other good habits, balance needs to be practiced everyday, with diligence.