What Does It Mean to Live a Balanced Life?

by Mark on February 25, 2010

There are no shortage of articles or blog posts about the importance of achieving balance in your life. It’s pretty much taken as a given. But what does it really mean to live a “balanced” life?

The way most people describe balance, life is like a teeter-totter. If you ever played on a teeter-totter when you were a kid, you probably remember that it wasn’t very enjoyable unless the other kid was about the same weight. While this is easy to understand, I don’t think this is a very good metaphor for life balance.

The teeter-totter is an example of a lever in which each end is equidistant from the fulcrum, or pivot point. This type of lever will balance only when the weights are equal. However, a lever can also be in balance with unequal weights by moving the pivot point closer to the heavier weight. This is a much more accurate metaphor. We don’t need to try to equalize the important areas of our life to achieve balance in our lives.

“Balance” is not the same for different people or at different times.

When most people talk about balance, they talk as if there is one point of balance that is right and that doesn’t change. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, Warren Buffett lives an unbalanced life from the perspective of most people. He devotes an extraordinary amount of time to business — analyzing businesses, thinking about business, and investing. Some would even consider him obsessed. It might seem unbalanced, but it works for him. He loves his work, enjoys his life, and is not stressed out. Isn’t this what you would expect from a “balanced” life?

“Balance” will change throughout your life. If you are a new mother, balance will be different than if you are trying to build a career. As you get older, you will probably shift your balance away from activities requiring significant physical exertion. The point is that balance will be different for everyone. The right balance will depend on your values and your current situation.

Is your life out of balance?

If you feel that something just isn’t right about your life, maybe your brain is trying to tell you that you are out of balance. Are you stressed out? Are you tired all the time? Are you unhappy? These are all signs that your life might be out of balance.

Maybe what you need to do to regain your balance is to become a little more “unbalanced.” By this I mean that you might need to focus less on certain areas in order to temporarily focus on the areas of your life that require additional attention.

In what ways do you need to change your focus in order to regain your balance?

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