What is Balance Anyway?

This question has been seriously bouncing around my head for a while now and the more and more I think about it the more I am convinced that “balance” doesn’t actually exist. Now before you think I’m a pessimist, hear me out!

When you think about having a balanced life what does that mean to you? For me, it seems to keep changing and anytime I think I am close to balance I end up longing for something that I gave up some time ago. For example; now that I am skipping the harsh Canadian winter, I find myself longing for seasons changing, cozy weekends inside my house crafting and tinkering while it snows heavily outside and hearty bowls of soup. Now I am adventuring all over the place, enjoying more sunny days than I ever imagined I would have in one lifetime and drinking fresh fruit juices by the beach. 

Now I am exploring mountains and deserts and across the continent, I find myself longing for more than a week in one place and then you know what happens as soon as I get it? I LONG FOR MOVEMENT. I don’t think this is just your typical case of “wanting what you don’t have”, I think there is more to it and I am determined to understand what that is.

Today Giuliana and I were taking a morning walk in Guadalajara; where we have been for a little over a week and a half and I brought up the concept of balance. I told her that I feel balance is more of a grey area; maybe what makes us feel balanced at one time in the year isn’t quite what makes us feel balanced later in the year and maybe we will always ebb and flow between wanting, yearning, satiations and contentment. Maybe that is what balance is – maybe there is no final destination to balance. And really that seems more realistic than anything doesn’t it?

When we are in a relationship we long for the freedom to make our own choices, and for unlimited hours in our own bubble and then when we are single we desire loving and being loved, sharing a dessert or waking up next to a familiar face. Before you come for me – I know that all of these things can be possible with and without a significant other(s) BUT what I am getting at is that we always are looking for the balance in those scenarios aren’t we? Some couples designate days where they do their own thing and exercise that feeling of independence. While some single people will date and fall in lust and then move on or enjoy those feelings of intimacy with their friends. Whatever your situation; you’re probably questioning what is the ideal balance for YOU.

The Secret to Finding Balance In Your Life

So much of what I’ve read on the internet when it comes to balance ends up revolving around work – but isn’t there so much more to life than just work? When we retire what elements provide us with balance? There are a few things that come to mind for me when I think about what contributes to balance for me such as feelings, alignment, environment, and self. When I have a strong sense of self I actually think that is when I feel most balanced even if everything around me is a little off balance. I remember some years ago after a breakup I felt so imbalanced because I was used to having a significant other, someone to take care of, someone to talk to and a “purpose” I had lost sight of a lot of my hobbies, interests, friends and independence. It took some time to get over that relationship but when I journeyed back to self I started to feel more aligned in everything else. Even though I didn’t like my job, I was partying more than usual and I probably wasn’t eating my best, I felt confident in myself, I felt like I was loving on myself and I felt balanced. I think it’s because I was truly present in my every day; I was no longer anxiously wondering about my future, I wasn’t worrying about the livelihood of my partner and I was indulging in the things that made me feel alive – without guilt. Almond croissants never tasted so good; I never felt stronger in my asanas and the colours of spring never looked so vibrant. 

What Does it Look Like to Live A Balanced Life?

This is different for everyone. From my understanding balance is unique to each individual and what formula works for one person might not work for another. I will preface by saying I am no expert in balance but from what I’ve read and from personal experience I will say that balance in life is determined by several key factors related to different aspects of your life.

Community Involvement
Personal Development
Health and Well-Being

These factors are:

Involvement: How much time and energy are you investing in these areas 

Competence: How effective are you in these areas; what are you achieving? 

Feelings: In general; what are your experiences – positive or negative? 

Alignment: How do your investments in each area align with your values and priorities?

To understand this a little better consider each of these factors in this way. Involvement is to be considered as how much time you invest in these sed aspects of life (work, relationships, personal development, health and wellbeing etc.) and not only how much time you invest, but how present are you during that time. For example: how many times have you been physically present in a relationship but felt exhausted emotionally or mentally – that you were no longer emotionally present or mentally invested? 

Competence says that it’s not enough to put time and energy into something, you also want to feel as though you are effective at it as well.

Feeling tells us that it also matters if your experiences are positive or negative. What if you invest a lot of time and energy in a particular area of your life and the outcome is high achieving but don’t enjoy the experience? Surely the related feelings are likely to be negative and those feelings may have an impact on your sense of balance. 

Still with me? But how does the time you invest into involvement, competence, and feelings result in feeling balanced in life? There is one more element and it’s probably the most important. Alignment. How do your “investments” in time, competence, and feeling align with your priorities and values?

Balance isn’t like a scale – it doesn’t mean that everything needs to be equal or measure out the same. Let’s think about two different things on a scale; one thing weighs more than another right? If you measure bananas on one side of the scale and oranges on another are you not going to need different amounts of each fruit to balance the scale? Life balance isn’t about investing the same time and energy into all aspects of your life equally. For some of us, careers are extremely important and that would mean investing a lot of time and energy towards succeeding in our jobs or moving up in a company; while for others aspire to grow a family and take care of their aging parents. Generally, you are not looking for the same returns in all areas of life. Instead, balance involves making more substantial investments, and having more positive experiences, in the areas that are most important to you.

What I am getting at here is that until you know what aspects of your life are most important to you, what gives you a sense of purpose or what hosts the most positive feelings and experiences for you; the balance will always be an arms-length away. Aligning yourself with what is important to you, what you value and what makes you feel rich in positivity and accomplishment is what will help you achieve balance. It is still important to consider that balance is an ever-evolving thing and what might be top priority for you one year can sway in years to come. Balance is one of those things we will always be chasing.

I think it’s important to reflect on the things that make you feel fully present while doing them, the things that ignite your fire and make you feel accomplished. What are those things that you have the most positive feelings and outcomes from? Run in that direction – fill your life and time with those things and you’ll never feel exhausted, you’ll feel more balanced and you’ll have a higher understanding of self. 

This is all to say that I still think balance doesn’t exist but it is one of those cute little goals in this thing called life that we can try working toward because at least it gives us a sense of personal purpose. Moving toward finding balance helps us feel goal-oriented, improves our mental health, helps us with stress management, keeps us waking up in the morning and probably makes us way better humans to be around. 

My Secrets to Achieving A Balanced Life

My secret isn’t such a secret – actually it’s something I’ve read over and over again and it’s a mantra I’ve carried with me through many yoga classes, many travels through the world and in many relationships and it’s to always listen to yourself. Allow balance comes and goes for me and I think that’s okay. What I will say is that I know when I am off balance faster than I know when I am balanced and I think a lot of that has to do with my self-awareness. I know my body well and I know my mind well, and when I am off balance I am irritable, my psoriasis acts up and I probably don’t perform well in my business. I don’t feel open to opportunities and I feel an overwhelming amount of dread that I cannot explain. When I am balanced I feel creative and vibrant and socializing is a lot easier. 

One (long) piece of advice I can offer is to never stop exploring yourself. Always listen to your body and consider that some things that might have been good for you at one point no longer serve you. People, environments, jobs and hobbies all can change and we’re always in flux. Our desires change with age so what keeps us balanced and fulfilled is also going to change and that’s okay! Start spending time doing the things that bring you joy more if you want to maintain balance. If having a busy schedule brings you joy then fill it up, and if having more time at home makes you feel healthy then take a season to be there.

Sorry folks, this isn’t a self-help blog and I’m not planning on writing a long list of how to balance yourself. I don’t have all the tips on maintaining balance in life. I am simply rambling and opening up space for conversation because I am curious about what makes other people feel a balance of life; what makes you feel unbalanced? How do you know when you’re feeling out of balance in life?