Much has been written and discussed about how achieving balance in life will help us become happier and healthier. It is easy to notice when one’s life is out of balance with feelings of distress, anxiety, and uneasiness. Being in perfect balance is a goal that may never be obtainable as life is always changing and full of surprises. Life seems to be a juggling act of its many different aspects. Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with an instruction book on how to live most effectively and efficiently.
Our external world offers us clues as to how balance truly works and we just need to open our eyes to see that it has been laid out for us. Mother Nature’s seasons are balanced as spring, summer, fall and winter all have their equal part to play in our yearly cycles. Each has its essential functions and roles to play in the overall scheme of life. They have opposing features that distinguish them from each other but also create their value to the big picture. We may have our favourite season but we would all agree that each is equally important.
To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. – George Santayana
The above quote has special meaning to me as it can be transposed into our appreciation of the different features of our human nature. We can be predisposed to concentrating on one facet of life and neglect the others. This is when our life becomes out of balance. We may also invalidate others who value certain aspects of life that are opposing to our preferences. This is where we have conflicts in life that affect us so frequently.
In order to strive for the best balance possible, it is important to know what to balance. Life is full of contradictions and we are sometimes forced to manage situations that are not comfortable for us. Humanity is full of contradictions and it is imperative to understand why it is so and how our lives are affected by them.
Dr Robert Quinn of the University of Michigan Business School gives us a description of these contradictions with his Competing Values Model that he applies to business and leadership. He says that we must juggle certain opposite and conflicting aspects of life in order to be successful. If we apply his model to our everyday life, we can better understand what are the important core areas we must concentrate on in order to create our balance. Here are the core elements that make up our personal model of balance.
- Healthy relationships. We all have a need and a desire for healthy and respectful relationships. Relationships are our connection to others and help to create feelings of belonging, camaraderie, and ultimately love. Giving of ourselves creates goodwill that attracts others to us.
- Meaningful work. Work is an environment where we can use our given or learned talents in a way that creates value for services needed or wanted by others. If one is passionate about their work, it can become a part of one’s identity. The more value we can create, the more rewards we can earn.
- Adequate recreation. Recreation is a time to relax, recuperate, and enjoy ourselves. We can recharge our batteries and let go of our burdens. All work and no play can make us one dimensional. Recreation can broaden our interests and capabilities.
- Self-time. This is something that is much needed for a multitude of reasons. We all need time for introspection, reflection, and the space to create new perceptions of how we are living. This is also a time for exercise, reading, learning, and meditation. We need some time for working on our body, mind and spirit.
As we get out of balance in any of these areas of life, we will want to devote more time and energy to them in order to regain our balance.
One thing to notice about these different aspects of life is that they are in opposition to each other. Work is the opposite of play and relationships are the opposite of self-time.
We all will have areas of life that we are stronger in by our natures and our temperaments. We may be prone to concentrate on these areas as it will be more comfortable for us. The areas that we will be weakest are usually opposing in nature to our strengths. This might be the area in life that we neglect and avoid as it can be uncomfortable for us.
Working towards balance by expanding into our weaker areas will help us to not only to be more centred and grounded, but it will also help us to become more and better-rounded. We can all use more of that.
Scott Trettenero’s book, Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values helps readers learn about themselves.
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