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The Pursuit of Life Balance

There is lots of talk of the concept of life balance these days. But what is balance? It is commonly defined as “A state equilibrium.; equality of distribution; exact reflection of form on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane”. When we look at how balance refers to life, it applies to our ability to distribute our time and energy to the various areas in our lives that we must tend too. These areas include family, friends, work (outside and inside the home), recreation, personal health (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual), community contribution, finances, etc.

What is not included in the definition of balance is the time frame in which it is achieved. When we look at some of the things in nature, the balance does not exist in a single moment, but rather over a period of time. In a 24 hour period, a balance of sunlight and darkness is achieved. In the span of a year, balance is created between the four seasons.

The other thing that is not defined with balance is the distance from each side of middle or dividing line. To exemplify this, think of a swinging pendulum. The pendulum can swing at varying degrees, from horizontal, to hardly any movement. But what is constant is that the distance the pendulum moves from the middle is equal on each side.

So in looking at life balance, what is the time frame? How far from the “middle” can one go and still be balanced? Should a person equally distribute their time and energy to the various areas in their life on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis? Is it ok to reduce family responsibilities while putting energy into earning money so that five years down the road a cottage can be purchased where more family time will be available? Is it reasonable for a recent university graduate to go into further debt to travel for a year before entering their career?

Life balance is difficult to define and difficult to achieve. It is something that must be personally determined and pursued. It seems to be like the movement of a teeter totter. Do you remember playing on a teeter totter yourself? If you started on one end and walked the plank, you would have to walk on the other side to get the balance to tip. Then do you remember standing over the middle point, with one foot on either side? You could completely control the balance. You could have the board hit the ground on each side, or you could hold the board horizontal. Perhaps the trick to creating balance in your life is not so much about where you spend your time or energy, but about being centered; knowing yourself and being in control of your own responses. If you have this knowledge, you maintain your balance regardless of the degree of movement around you.

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