Balance: Why It’s Elusive and Not Worth Your Effort

As you have guessed by the title, this post is not about a quick answer or solution to achieving balance. Rather, I am going to write about my experience in the hope that this might bring you some relief if your own quest is to find balance.

So, I have the personality type that loves to go all or nothing. When I decide I’m going to do something, I love to go all in. This especially comes to mind when I think about health. I can’t tell you how many diet books (this has to be in the hundreds) I have read. I haven’t ever been particularly interested in losing weight (for me that hasn’t been one of my struggles) but I have been absolutely obsessed with health. I have been obsessed with optimum health. Therefore, I have tried a lot of different, very strict eating regimes. Naturally, these have been impossible (for me) to obtain. And so, I would get discouraged until I came across the next great healthy diet book and once again became obsessively inspired to achieve optimal health.

I remember one day, when I had been through this pattern enough, that it clearly hit me that I would likely never achieve the self-discipline to maintain an immaculate diet. I laughed at myself and then said, okay, I still want to try but I just won’t take myself so seriously before, during, and after the process. The truth is I still love diet books on healthy, clean, optimum health. I enjoy the process of discovering such books, devouring every page as soon as I get home and then trying to figure out how to integrate the book’s recommendations into my life. I already know the outcome; I will try a few recipes, throw out all the dairy in my fridge (again!), and then drop the whole process before the week is over. But now, when I do this, I have fun. Even the after is fun when I can laugh at myself as I return the book to the library and buy more cheese because I don’t know what else to feed myself that is as convenient.

So, what is balance? Well, like everything in life I definitely believe it to be a process. I don’t think walking a fine line is that realistic or that it ever really contributes to any sustainable sense of joy. If balance is a process, I think the process is being in the moment, finding some lightness, and compassion for ourselves. So long as our actions are not self-destructive, I think it’s okay to swing a bit to the right and then leap a bit to the left.

Just like the seasons, change and extremes may not be all that bad. If I am feeling lonely, why not spend every night of the week being social rather than insisting that I need time alone to meditate? If a tree wants to bloom, it allows itself to go to the extreme of dropping its leaves and remaining dormant for the winter so that it may have the energy it needs to then go to the other extreme of producing full, beautiful blossoms in the spring. It’s okay, it’s a cycle and somehow, by being a part of the cycle, balance is achieved.

What do you think about balance? Is it elusive in your life or have you been able to achieve and maintain it? In what areas of your life are you striving for balance and what is your frame of mind if you don’t achieve it? If you are frustrated, what can you do to add more humor and lightness to your situation? I would love to hear your story and what you have learned along the way!