A Life in Balance
Flourishing with a Balanced Life
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | June 2018
We make daily choices for health, security, and connections. We must find balance. A life in balance flourishes.
A precise equation for living doesn’t exist. The peak experience dwells in the misty land of ideals. So, we do our best, relish what we have, and piece together moments to bless the present without destroying the future. Our skills, knowledge and luck balance to create our personal reality. The exact combination of healthy connections, purpose, security, and comforts varies; each person must squeeze enjoyment from their unique balanced constellation of experience.
Balance is Different for Everyone
Different species of plants have different ideal conditions, requiring different nutrients and environmental exposures to achieve its ultimate potential. Humans are more complex. We develop and sustain health in relationships, spirituality, physical health and mental wellness—each realm with its own requirements and demands. A life in balance distributes time and resources among the many facets necessary for a healthy and enjoyable life. We must constantly tinker with the balance to meet the dynamic conditions, obtaining sufficient nutrients and support from available surroundings.
A balanced life is managing the many demands in a way that supports personal wellness.
Experience is full of conflicting demands. Just as a healthy diet requires balancing proteins, fats and carbohydrates, other aspects of living also demand balance. Too much attention in one direction knocks us off kilter, depriving other necessities. We drift to the right and must be reminded to move to the left. We step too far to the left and must correct with a few return steps to the right. We should walk down the middle with symmetry, proportion and harmony; not fighting the simple drifts to the right or left, but gently and repeatedly redirecting towards a balanced center.
Healthy living includes enjoyment of peace, but growth demands occasional novelty that disrupts comfort from familiarity. We are told to enjoy the present, but too much focus on the present draws from future enjoyments. We must live harmoniously with others, but courageously maintain personal boundaries and autonomy. We must discover Aristotle’s golden middle in many domains to achieve a balanced life.
See Opposing Demands for more on this topic
We should walk down the middle with symmetry, proportion and harmony; not fighting the simple drifts to the right or left, but gently and repeatedly redirecting towards a balanced center.
Complexity and Balance
The complexity challenges effective living. Because of the absence of a clearly defined path, most rigid dogma is misguided. Choices get lost in the complex sets of rights and wrongs, shoulds and shouldn’ts. Somewhere in the growing rules of living, we lose our humanity.
See Life is a Complex Problem for more on this topic
"Just as a healthy diet requires balancing proteins, fats and carbohydrates, other aspects of living also demand balance."
Rigid Rules and Balance
Rigid rules are not new to humanity. They litter the historic religious texts of our predecessors. We marvel at the exactness prescribed in the old testament of the Bible prescribed for keeping the sabbath day holy, defining the number of steps allowed (counting steps existed long before Fitbit). People enjoy the cognitive relief that rules provide.
We struggle with the cognitive challenge of keeping a life in balance. The internet constantly pelts us with lists: five things you must do for happiness; three things necessary for weight loss; six money moves you must make now.
Artificial intelligence zeros in on content providing exactness, moving lists higher in search engines results. We want to know the exact number of steps we can take before a spiritual violation occurs—or diet is ruined; or happiness destroyed.
A life in balance can't adhere to every requirement of every list. We would be robotic, soulless creatures, fabricated from ritualized living decided by the arithmetic formulas of optimized search engine programming.
In complexity, we must grovel through the myriad of actions, constantly balancing, on guard against radical adherence and chaotic wandering.
Instead of strict dictates such as "don’t judge," we must determine balance between harmful and helpful evaluations; instead of constantly pleasing our own desires, we must smoothly integrate respect for society norms and selfish endeavors. Instead of avoiding all guilt, we must balance between guilt that motivates change and guilt that invites inaction and depression.
We want a world of no guilt, no anger, and no judgments. Our desires are amiss. The universe isn’t defined by some idealistic jibber-jabber. A balanced life demands some judgments, some guilt, some sorrow and even some mindlessness. We must create this balance.
We must adjust and tamper with life—balancing and re-balancing. Keeping balance draws upon mental energies, demanding attention where we prefer to be automatic. Allowing pressures of the moment, automatic responses, and un-giving dogma to direct our lives has a heavy cost, narrowing perspectives, and limiting experience.
Please support FLS with a share: