The Balancing Act
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2018
We need to attend to the balances in our lives. Impulses, demand and others interfere and knock us out of balance.
Life menacingly pulls in opposite directions, demanding more time, money and life than we can give. Overwhelmed, we give to the demands that scream the loudest. The often sacrifice the self to serve the wants and desires of others. Without internal control, we lose balance. We have responsibility to measure and balance where we give and when we rest. Achieving balance in the torrential storms of demands only succeeds from attentive oversight. Hobbies, careers, children, and rest must be constantly monitored, evaluated and re-balanced.
Life in Balance: A life that monitors and adjusts to keep futures from destroying the present; and from presents interfering with the future.
I find pleasure writing, Flourishing Life Society provides meaning and wholeness, injecting positive feelings into my life. But too many hours writing, without attention to other key aspects of my life, interferes with growth. A healthy hobby becomes unhealthy when it intrudes on other demands, destroying health, relationships, and employment.
Evolution implanted pleasure into our biological structure to motivate survival behaviors. Our cognitive capabilities have catapulted human societies into a new age. Our social world is complex and competitive. Our biological evolvement can’t keep pace, staggering millions of years behind, our pleasures often drive for action that is destructive in our present state of existence. Life in modern society often requires foregoing a present pleasure for a larger future return. Chasing pleasure invites long-term suffering. For example, our taste buds naturally desire sugar, salts and fats—consumption of these alluring tastes gives pleasure, but too much a belly ache, heart disease and high blood pressure. Historically sugars, salts and fats were naturally rationed by the difficulty to obtain them. In the modern era, they are in abundance, neatly packaged, and cleverly marketed to appeal to our natural desires imprinted from the past. We must implement self-discipline to carefully monitor consumption or die.
This applies to many pleasures. They served a purpose for survival, strengthening the body, building resourceful relationships or propagating the species. Unfortunately, we don’t have an automatic shutoff valves once the purpose behind the pleasure has been served; we easily slip into excess. Addictions of substances and behaviors testify of the dangers of unfiltered pleasures; constant enjoyments in the moment often strangles futures, choking expanding opportunities, and limiting the richness of life.
"Life in modern society often requires foregoing a present pleasure for a larger future return. Chasing pleasure invites long-term suffering."
We are not condemned to an existence full of fear, anger, and sadness. We can enjoy life, relishing in pleasure, joy and happiness; but pleasure isn’t the goal. Too much time chasing pleasures destroys futures. Our life falls out of balance and we quickly stumble, fall and skin our knee. In the waning moments of our lives, looking back through the years, we see with much more clarity, wishing we balanced pleasure with constructive action. In our youthful blindness, we can’t see the constant rush of pleasure obscures the joy.
Balancing pursuits is key. We grapple with life, facing challenges and trudging through difficulties; but rejuvenate through pleasures. The enjoyments kindle a fire that brightly colors our existence, momentarily resting from the daily drama. Both pleasure and pain add to our depth and create richness. Emotions become our school master, opening our minds to our evolutionary past, social norms and personal experience. To routinely seek one set of emotions while avoiding others creates imbalance, inviting chaos. Examine your activities, objectively review time spent in all areas of your life, reorder priorities and flourish.
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