Does balance exist?
What a loaded question… Honestly, this one has required some serious thinking. After having spent some time pondering the idea of balance – heck, I even have a few programs surrounding balance – I’ve come up with an answer. It may not be the popular answer, but it is mine.
Yes, “balance” does exist – but probably not in the way that you think.
Let’s start by diving into some of the common arguments for why balance does NOT exist. Many people who don’t believe in balance argue that:
- It’s impossible to stay in a state of balance forever, therefore it doesn’t exist.
- Balance is treated like a noun, a final destination, and we know that’s impossible to stay balanced.
- We can never achieve a state of equally balancing work and play in our lives, because our lives are constantly changing.
True, true, and true.
However, this doesn’t mean that balance doesn’t exist in itself, it might simply mean that we define balance differently.
Most people who don’t believe that balance exists see it as a rigid destination. They believe that a pursuit of balance is never satisfied because life is always changing and one can’t remain ‘balanced’ forever. They also believe that balance is often viewed as this perception of achieving ‘perfection’ in life, and that is impossible.
They often believe that once we achieve this elusive ‘balance’, we can will finally feel stress-free and wonderful.
Doesn’t this sound like a vacation? To me, this sounds like a vacation. This doesn’t sound like what I consider ‘balance’.
Balance is much more fluid; it is not an end destination, but a way of living.
So what is balance?
For me, I see it as:
- The feeling of being grounded in our lives.
- A sense of security and stability in knowing that our basic needs being met.
- Knowing what my mind, heart and soul needs to feel properly nourished, respected and loved.
To me, balance is not a destination; it is a journey and it is constantly changing.
Along this journey of life, feeling a sense of balance IS possible.
When we break it down to the simplest terms, balance is simply feeling that all elements in our life exist in the right proportions for us. Feeling balanced makes us feel safe, secure and grounded in the way that matters to us. Yes – these elements and their proportions are going to change over time, and to maintain a sense of balance, we have to change with them.
The Elements of Balance
So what are these ‘elements’ of balance? Well – in all honesty they’re going to be different for everyone. If you take a second and do a quick google search for “life balance wheel“, you’ll see so many different variations of what people consider to be the elements of their life that must be considered to feel balanced. I call them the ‘elements of balance’.
Some of the most common elements are:
- Physical health: nourishing the body with healthy foods, staying active, sleeping, feeling energy and vitality
- Social/Fun: connecting with friends on a regular basis, doing new and exciting things
- Personal/Spiritual development: learning and understanding more about yourself and your place in this life, knowing what lights you up, having a vision for your life
- Mental: managing stress in a healthy way, living with integrity, healthy thoughts
- Physical environment: feeling safe and secure in your home, being where you want to be
- Career/work: feeling satisfied and motivated in your job, having a sense of ownership or growth
- Finances: feeling financially secure, having abundance, feeling a sense of freedom
- Love/Family: having an opportunity to express your love, and feeling love from others
Balance wheels are pretty cool ways to depict how “balanced” we feel within each of these elements. If you were to draw your own balance wheel, what would it look like? What elements would it include? How balanced would each element be?
As you think about how balance ‘looks’ for you, consider how easily each of these elements can change. If you just caught up with a good friend, you might rate “social” as balanced. In two weeks, if you and that friend don’t speak, you might feel unbalanced.
Your sense of balance is constantly changing.
What your body craves today might be different than what your body craves tomorrow. Because of this, achieving an end-destination of “balance” is impossible.
But, feeling a sense of balance in your life IS possible.
Right now, my body craves relaxing activities. I haven’t been sticking to my morning and evening routines as well as I should be, and as a result, my whole mind, body and soul feel out of balance. I’ve largely been lacking in my mental, health and spiritual/personal development elements.
As of right now, I’m lacking that sense of balance.
If I were to jump back into these routines today, I may feel much better emotionally and physically for a period of time. But eventually something else will come along to throw another area of my life out of balance. Perhaps I’ll have a busy week where I’m not able to sleep my 8-hours a night. Or perhaps the added stress will affect my mental state as well.
Balance is not an end-destination or something to achieve forever. Life is always changing which makes our state of balance fluid. We’re constantly adjusting to keep a state of homeostasis, based on what’s going on in our lives.
Even though this state of balance is constantly changing, it doesn’t mean that feeling balanced is impossible.
What makes a state of balance possible, is knowing how your body, mind and soul need to be ‘nourished’ in order to be your best self. Practicing mindfulness about what your body needs is critical for achieving a sense of balance in life.
Then, when your situation shifts and you need to find a ‘new’ state of balance, you will know exactly what you need to do to feel that sense of balance again. It may not happen easily, and it likely won’t happen overnight. Truthfully, your life may feel out of balance for a period of time while you work on finding a new rhythm.
But your body is always trying to achieve a state of balance. Naturally, we are always trying to reach a place of homeostasis.
If we’re not balanced, our bodies will tell us. We’ll burn out, feel exhausted, lack energy, and simply lose motivation.
Balance is not a daily thing; look at it with a bird’s eye view.
We shouldn’t look at our day and think “I didn’t feel balanced today, I must try better tomorrow”. Because our lives can vary so much on a daily basis, we should look at balance from a much more macro perspective. Look at it from a bird’s eye view.
What choices are you making in your life in general? Are these choices supporting you where you need it? How is this going to look long-term?
Because things are changing so often, balance should be considered from a high-level perspective rather than the day-to-day. Otherwise, we would never achieve a sense of balance and always be working to correct the day’s imbalances.
Balance is not exclusively work-life-balance.
A lot of people confuse the idea of “balance” with “work-life balance”.
The way I’m referring to balance is much more holistic. It is a view of your entire lifestyle, not just work. Of course, what you do for work is going to have an impact on your overall sense of balance, but it’s not the only factor.
There will be many moments in your life where “work-life balance” doesn’t exist and things are incredibly stressful. In those moments, you must support the other elements of balance so that the imbalance in your work life doesn’t have as large of an impact on your overall emotional and physical health.
Ultimately what you do for work is only one element of your life, and if it feels unbalanced, you may lose a sense of balance in your overall self. However, if you actively support your other balance elements during this time, you might still achieve a state of overall balance.
Balance is NOT perfection.
I repeat – balance is NOT perfection. There is no such thing as perfection. We will never, ever achieve a perfect balance, and if we do, it’s impossible to maintain.
What we can achieve is a sense of balance. A state of balance. If we understand all of the elements that come together to allow us to feel balanced, we can recognize the ones that need a little bit of extra support.
It’s not about finding those perfect proportions, because they’ll always change. It’s about learning the elements, being mindful of how you feel, and doing what you can to support each of them. The goal is to achieve a sense of overall balance.
Perfection is impossible.
I feel a sense of balance in my life. How can I keep it?
That’s fantastic! You’ve been able to find a way to marry all elements of balance and hold them in the right proportions! Not many people can achieve it, and if they do, it’s often by accident.
Enjoy the feeling of balance and relish in it. Think about what elements have added up to you feeling this way.
Know that it won’t last – and that’s okay!
Your state of balance is never going to last, because life is always changing. Circumstances are always changing. Elements are always changing. But because you’ve achieved a sense of balance before, you are primed to recognize when things feel out of balance. Likely you are in tune with your needs, and know what your body requires in order to feel that sense of balance again.
This whole balance thing seems hard, is it worth it?
Feeling balanced is where we thrive.
When we feel balanced we are grounded. We feel a sense of security. We are able to explore new things and move out of our comfort zone. We can tap into intuition. Breathing is easier, our mood is lighter and we feel energized.
How do I know it’s not impossible? I’ve been there many times. I know what my body needs to feel a state of balance. And when I’m in this state, I’m much happier, less stressed, more creative and a lot more fun to be around. But I didn’t get here overnight. I tapped into mindfulness, and learned what my body needed to experience a state of balance.
Then, I worked on it. It was the most ‘worth it’ work that I’ve ever done, and will continue to do.
If you’re looking to achieve a state of balance and don’t know where to start, let’s chat. Imagine a life with more energy, vitality and time for self-care. This is a big part of what I do as a holistic nutritionist and self-care expert; I’m passionate about supporting women in their journey to feeling energized, empowered and balanced, because I’ve been there, too.