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Art of Living
Art of Living : Finding Balance

Finding Balance

By Karen A. Dahlman

Is it possible to live a balanced life?

Living a balanced life may conjure up images of balanced scales, being a "superhuman", feeling even-keeled and in control. We perceive it to mean symmetrical, composed, stable and poised. The collective belief is that if you equally attend to all facets of your life, and if you maintain your composure while doing so, you will find the nirvana of balance within your life. This is a great myth, yet a perceived road map to many for finding balance.

FYI — Your life is not meant to be one static pie chart you control!

When you learned to ride a bike, roller skate or turn a cartwheel, everyone probably remembers the more you fought your body's natural sense of balance or had thoughts of falling, your struggle to succeed was harder. In fact, you discovered when you worried less, trusted in the uncertainty more and enjoyed moving through space, your balance became effortless. Balance within in your life works very much the same way.

The process of balance involves an ever-evolving dynamic. This fluid ingredient of life, known as balance, becomes increasingly present when it builds up a momentum and is allowed to have its own ebb and flow without your control! Living a balanced life is found in being perfectly imbalanced and stepping outside of yourself many times. If this sounds like a contradiction, it really is not. In order to experience balance within your life, you must, ultimately, alter your definition of balance. Not unlike how nature recovers the pertinent balance of minerals in her soil through what many view as destructive forest fires, you need to understand that balance can come from being thrown off balance, no matter how distressing things appears. You come to know your own sense of balance by living the breadth and depth of life and by not avoiding it.

Here are suggestions for reframing and reclaiming a sense of balance with your life:

Prioritize — Organize and focus on what really matters. This means establishing priorities for what you need to do and want to do daily. All in that order. There are daily events that must be attended to, such as going to work, shopping for groceries and feeding the family. Then there are the events that you want to do, such as pursuing your hobby, answering emails and taking that relaxing bath. It is a myth that you must spend the exact amount of time on every item in your life's pie chart. In fact, attempting to do everything equally can establish patterns of mediocrity instead of opening you to extraordinary feats and accomplishments when you focus. Your balance is found in attending to the parts of your life, but not always focusing in equal increments. So go ahead and put time into exploring your creative whim.

Simplify — Learn to not over commit. You can say no to extra activities and say yes to your priorities. Sometimes you may want to be extra-involved in certain activities and at other times, you may need to shy away from these same commitments. This is natural and not flaky. It is only flaky when you first commit and then drop out. Avoid this by simplifying and saying yes to what matters and is important. Balance arrives when you are fully present within your commitments and give yourself permission to choose.

Emotions — Experience the breadth and depth of your emotions. When you avoid your deeper, tougher emotions, which could be anger for some and love for others, you cause an unhealthy internal imbalance. You grow your psychological balance through expressing and understanding the nature of your moods and feelings, not by remaining placid. You get to learn about your inner strengths and human nature when you own and accept who you are regardless if you feel fearful or happy. Quit judging your emotions. Emotion is a channel of energy that allows you to learn about your world. It is true that the levels of great joy one feels in life are proportionate to the depths of hardship ones also experiences. Understand that emotion is energy in motion and energy must continually flow to be balanced. Experience, express, but do not hold on.

Flexibility — Understand that balance is an ever-evolving dynamic. It involves movement and the inevitability of change. New events occurring within your life, such as a move, divorce or new job, can leave you feeling anxious, stressed-out and overwhelmed. These feelings worsen when you resist the change these events bring into your life in the present. By clinging to what was, you lose focus and are further removed from your internal locus of balance. Instead, experience your emotions, listen to them and implement their teachings. Balance is found in being flexible to what and where life leads you in the present moment and by not clinging to or controlling it. Often, balance arrives by being thrown off balance!

Is it possible to live a balanced life? Yes you can, when you understand that balance is not a static state where you will arrive some day. Instead, balance is found in the process of making the daily choices that keep you focused on what is important within your life. It teaches you to learn about balance by knowing what it feels like to be imbalanced. It is through the path of imbalance that you come to know the fine art of finding balance within your life. It is this path that becomes an opportunity to rediscover your life in a seemingly balanced, yet perfectly imbalanced way. •

Copyright © 2005 Karen A. Dahlman. All rights reserved.

Karen A. Dahlman, art therapist, licensed counselor and entrepreneurial business owner aspires to teach others to lead a creative life.

10/5/05