A key ingredient in the search for a balanced life
For several of the final years of my Dad's life we enjoyed a weekly lunch at a local restaurant. At the time, it was an opportunity to get to know each other in a way we never had before. There was no pretense, no agenda, just simply the chance to talk to and learn about each other. I continue the tradition to this day; it is an opportunity for me to relax and to visit with friends I have come to know there. This is among the places I go to replenish myself. Periodic replenishment is a key ingredient in my recipe for a balanced life.
Balanced life? Replenishment? In this rush-rush world, balanced life and replenishment are more important than ever but for many of us they are exceptionally elusive as well. Nobody needs to be reminded of how busy they are or of how that 'busy-ness' affects us and those around us.
But hey! Would you fly on an airline that does not regularly service their aircraft? Would you repeatedly do business in a place where employees are cranky, indifferent and unenthusiastic? Without periodic replenishment you and I can easily become as worrisome as that airline or as undesirable as the staff in that fictitious business. And the people around us are sure to notice!
For most, a rich and fulfilling (this is what I call balanced) life revolves around four key elements: self, family, friends and work. Naturally we strive to be successful in managing each of them. These elements are inextricably woven and all of them impact each other in some way. Without question we seek a balanced life- where each of the key elements is acknowledged and provided its’ due. If we direct too little attention towards any one element we quickly feel the effects. Just ask the new parents who are juggling work schedules, diapers and mortgage payments how much attention their ‘self’ is getting.
Of the four elements I’ve always seen ‘self’ as the most important- you know, always look out for “number 1”. Self supports the family, friends and work. If the self gets out of whack it won’t be long before the others are hurting too. The message is simple- in order to build a balanced life we need to nurture ourselves. I call this replenishment.
Replenishment comes in many forms; it may be a place we go, a routine that we follow, or… What matters is that we recognize the value of maintaining our own well-being because life as we know it starts at the interface of ourselves and our world. Keeping ourselves well nourished is essential to maintaining balance in our lives. It’s not about changing the way the world works- it’s about making sure we are better equipped to live in it.
There is no magic formula here; each of us has to chart our own course but here is a suggested way to start:
• Take an inventory of your life needs; what does it take to bring your life into balance, where living is a joy rather than a chore?
• Learn to appreciate the bumps in the road- they are a part of the journey; they provide conditioning we can’t derive from smooth passage
• Take note of how you impact those around you; develop an appreciation for the fact that you have an impact, both positive and negative. There are valuable lessons to be learned here
• Take time out- life is busy, not to mention short; take time to nurture yourself. It will make you a happier person and those around you will be happier because of it.
Enjoy the journey!