Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Having observed life for 30+ years, I am certain that the one secret to a fulfilling life is — to achieve Balance. You probably heard of these cliche phrases: "too much of a good thing is bad" and "the toughest steels are forged in the hottest fire". That, I think, was what got me started on observing
What Balance means to me
Simply put, it is a paradigm, a perspective and a reminder — to not fall into "either-or" mindsets and constantly self-calibrate to ensure that I am moving in the general direction towards a fulfilling life.
Since our personal priorities and circumstances change with time and age, it is perfectly normal for our sense of purpose to change as well. As we are busy going through life, we can often miss these subtle changes that are accumulating in the background. One key example would be our key currency for value — money.
When we are younger, we work hard to convert our time and effort into money, in hopes that this currency can be accumulated and later help us exchange for goods and services that can better our quality of life (which we otherwise will not be able to achieve by our own talents, effort or means). Owning a beach-side estate will be one such example since there is no way that, speaking for myself, I will have any legal means to find a plot of land by the beach and build a structurally safe house for living, regardless of the amount of time and effort I put into this endeavour. By the economics of scarcity and demand, it is obvious why beach-side estate worth so much! Hence, it is no wonder why money means so much to us — it is our ticket to all the spoils in life!
But as we age, we are faced with a different problem. It becomes more and more blatant that Time and Health are fast becoming another resource that may limit our ability to enjoy the quality of life that we hoped for. Just like how money could exchange for the goodies that we were not able to achieve for ourselves, we realise that the opposite is true — money cannot immediately exchange for things that only we can create for ourselves. Things such as meaningful memories forged by spending quality time with our loved ones, and good physical and mental health that stem from proper self-care and exercise regime.
This is why it is so important to stay balanced in every aspect of our lives: career vs family, people vs task, self vs others, growth vs comfort, etc. Understand that there would be moments where these factors can result in tension in our lives and put us in difficult situations where we have to make certain decisions. Also, take note of times where we might be too fixated on the day-to-day grind that we are desensitized to the fact that we are off-balance.
What Balance is NOT
Some schools of thought believe that to live a balanced life is to live like a stoic. I beg to differ. I would liken a balanced state to a happy state of equilibrium, and not case of having each aspect of life in exact (or worse, equal) proportions. It is clear that there are some things that are good and we should have more of and things that are unhealthy that we should have less of. Balance should not be confused with neutral. I believe that a fulfilling life is one that is lived to its fullest. Please do not stop yourself from celebrating a hard-fought success in fear that it will result in future inability to handle failure), or seek mindless pleasure (e.g. binging on food / games / entertainment) to neutralise some negativity.
Achiving Balance one step at a time
I hope that you are convinced that a balanced life is one worth living and one that we should all strive for. Here are FIVE prompts that I use to check in and help myself stay balance. It involves trying to look within from a 3rd-person point-of-view by taking on the perspective of a "present" and "future" me, as well as people who matter.
Am I at a happy equilibrium now? (balance or unbalance)
What do the present me think of my situation?
What would the future me advice me?
What do *insert person who matter* think of the present me? Can the present me live with that? Can the future me live with that? (repeat this process for those who matter)
What should the present me KISS (keep, improve, start, stop) ?
I hope that these prompts will help guide you towards the life that both the present and future you will be proud of. With that said, do share your experiences in the comments down below!
Life deal us rocks of different shapes and sizes all the time. Still, it is possible to achieve balance.
Thanks for reading! If you feel stuck in a rut, check out the previous posts on Getting Started and Relooking at Ego. We are all in this (making a life worth living) together! Share your comments below should you have any. Thanks for reading and see you in the next post!