Life Balance Fallacies – Part 2

In the last post, we explored Life Balance Fallacy #1 and deflated the overwhelm that the term life balance can bring.  So today, we are bringing Fallacy #2 to reality as well.

Life Balance Fallacy #2:   You should spend a lot of time on what you are weakest at.

We have all heard the saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.”  While there is some truth in that, it is overblown. 

I believe it is extremely important to focus on whether or not you feel alive and passionate.  Do you spend a sufficient amount of time, energy and attention on those things that make you feel alive and joyful, and that provide a sense of fulfillment.  These things speak to the quality of your life.  We have all heard of or seen extremely successful, healthy people who are unhappy in their lives.  Find a way to have your success and have the spark and quality as well.  It may take some creativity, but isn’t your life worth it?

Now, back to the weak link(s), by all means, spend some time there too.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or dominate your life, but making your life more well rounded always supports the quality of your life in the long run.  For example, if you have trouble in relationships, whether they be romantic, familial, social or business, perhaps learning some communication skills can go a long way to improving your interactions.  Or, perhaps, you are not physically fit.  By performing some kind of fun, cardio activity, just 30 minutes a day for three to four days per week, you will gain more mental clarity, more stamina, more energy, and more options to have fun in many areas of your life.  In fact, some times working on a weak link can help you fulfill or get more out of your enlivening, life quality activity you identified in the last post.

So, how do we easily strengthen our weak links?

  1. In the last post I suggested that you take a moment to write down a paragraph or two or more about what your life would be like if you could lead any life you wished.  Pull out that writing.  If you haven’t written it yet, here’s your chance. 
  2. Use the info from your writing to identify, what areas of your life are your weak links.  From that list pick no more than two areas that you choose to strengthen now.  For example, you may want to be in a romantic relationship or start a new business. 
  3. The trick to making a significant change is to regularly take a step to get you there.  So, chunk it down.  What is the one thing you can do today that will move you in your chosen direction?   Then tomorrow, identify the one thing you can do that day to support your goal.  And so on…  These actions may take only five minutes so stop holding yourself back.  It is by taking a series of small steps that you will ultimately get there.

Life Balance Fallacies – Part 1

When you hear about creating life balance, do you cringe in overwhelm?  Do you believe that balance would be nice, but put it off to another day?  You are not alone. 

The fact is that most people don’t really understand what life balance is and make it much more complicated than it needs to be.  Let’s explore life balance by discussing what it is not.  In today’s and the next post we’ll unveil the two common fallacies that are out there.    

Life Balance Fallacy #1:  You must devote enough time, energy and attention to everything area of your life equally. 

This is nonsense, let alone, impossible.  Believing this fallacy can only bring about stress and either a feeling of defeat or that you are not good enough.  Personally, I can live without those outcomes.

Here’s the truth.  Just as every person is unique with one’s own talents, passions, and dreams, so too balance is unique to every individual.  It isn’t about tending to your work, relationships, physical health, creativity, etc all equally.  It is about spending enough time in every area to support the life you wish to create.  For example, my life just doesn’t feel right, and I become less happy (even grumpy) when I fail to acknowledge my creative side.  For me, all it takes is ½ hour of creative writing, four to five times per week, and the amount of energy, excitement, and creativity for everything else in my life expands.  Simply, without it, I shrink.  With it, I soar. 

What important part of you are you ignoring?

Take the first step toward creating a life in balance by taking 10 minutes to explore your passions.

  1. Take a moment to write down a paragraph or two (or more) about what your life would be like if you could lead any life you wished.  It doesn’t matter if you believe it is possible or not.  What you write may lead you to real discovery so don’t hold back.
  2. Use that information, to identify at least one thing that you are passionate about. For example, in your writings you may have described your life as an astronaut.  Ask yourself, what about being an astronaut appeals to you – perhaps the adventure of it, or you may love everything space oriented.  With this knowledge you can take steps toward either becoming an astronaut, or toward exploring adventurous things like sky diving or a safari, or if you love space, you can volunteer at a local planetarium, take classes on new space discoveries…  Get the idea?
  3. Then, put it in your calendar so you may that experience your passion into your life on a regular basis.  If it will involve several actions, put those in you calendar.  As you complete them, you will feel great about moving toward your dreams.

In the next post, we will explore life balance fallacy #2.  Until then, happy exploration.

Changing Your Mind

Changing your mindHave you ever noticed that people have a tendency to change their minds?  Whether people change their minds because they need to add variety to their daily routines, want to initiate play, desire to create something new, or because they have gained new insights that now overrule their previous beliefs, it is inevitable that people will change their minds about some thing at some time.

We can either perceive this change as wise, for example when children go through their various stages of development, or we can perceive it as being inconsistent, erratic, unstable or possibly even immoral.  But this determination has to due with people’s perceptions about the accuracy or rightness of the new belief, opinion, or subsequent action.  It doesn’t make the act of changing one’s mind right or wrong.  All we can hope is that there is wisdom in the decision.

I’m not going to dwell on the making of right decisions here, but rather that all of us will make new decisions, adopt new beliefs, and set a course of new actions.  This is part of life.  In fact, if nothing in your life – what you think, feel, or do – is changing, you may not be fully living the passionate and fulfilling life you were meant to live. 

So, here’s the challenge.  How do you change your mind in a way that you don’t lose your mind?

Your Mind Can Drive You Nuts

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your mind has a way of churning and twisting thoughts into pretzels before a decision is reached.  You may have even suffered while your internal debates raged.  This may have been particularly painful when wrestling with whether to adopt a belief that you previously decided was wrong, bad, or not right for you. 

Face it.  People have a hard time going against their previous decisions.  It makes them feel like hypocrites, liars, or just plain stupid, and no one likes how that feels.  Even if it is obvious to them that they need to change their mind, they may delay the shift or even prevent it to avoid the internal pain.

So, what can we do in order to not be thrust into this dilemma?

The Shelf that Creates Freedom

We’ve all heard by now the analogy that you can’t add anything to a full glass.  In other words, we cannot learn anything new if we are already full.  When you are full, you need to remove something first to make room for the new item.   This is where the pain and internal struggle emerges.  We get emotionally attached to that which we have chosen to fill ourselves.

People have learned to not only name everything, but to categorize it into good, bad, right, wrong, works for me, doesn’t work for me, even red, blue or purple.  We then often add our justifications to prove the categorizations.  These justifications may be derived from parents or other people we trusted categorizing the belief for us – such as “money is dirty.”  Or we may have already accumulated on our own a host of beliefs that back up the new belief.  In either case, these new beliefs, their classifications and their accompanying justifications fill our mental glass.  Get the point?

To remove the emotional struggle of removing items from your glass, I would like to introduce you to the concept of the Shelf.  What if everything in life doesn’t need to be categorized?  What if instead, you decided that it was ok for some things to remain a mystery or undetermined?  What if you could then place these uncategorized thoughts and beliefs on a shelf so that at a later date you could – if you ever choose to – look at them again, fresh, without emotional attachment?  Then, you could have an unencumbered choice to see if it works for you now, in this moment, or not. 

Conversely, what if you had something in your mental glass that might not work for you any more?  What if you took that discordant belief or thought and placed it on the shelf making it once more uncategorized – something that should you choose to, you could look at again to see if it fit in that moment in time. 

Though I’m sure there are some universal truths, many truths or beliefs depend upon a particular moment in time and situation.  Something may be a right fit for you when we are 20, but no longer fits when you are 35 or 60.  Changing your mind doesn’t make the concept right or wrong.  Your belief fits and works for you in that moment, or it doesn’t.  In a way, it’s much like fashion.  Trends come and go as do some beliefs and attitudes.

This is what I call freedom – freedom to choose in the moment to create and adorn your life in a way that is fulfilling, joyful, and meaningful. 

So, do you plan on using your shelf to regain your freedom?

Spend Time With Beauty

Spend Time with BeautyWhat is beauty or what can we call beautiful?  For some it may be a single flower, for others it’s a bouquet, for another it’s a sunset, or perhaps it’s a child’s laughter, the ocean, your loyal puppy, the sound of music, a heart-touching poem, your beloved’s eyes, or even a Harley motorcycle.  We all recognize beauty because it opens us up.  We breathe it in, and it makes us feel something wonderful, as if we get a glimpse of the divine.

Spending time with beauty may seem trivial because it is so easy, but I can’t think of a better way to experience joy and gratitude for life.  You may even sense that little miracles surround us daily if we just open our eyes, and what a magical reality that perception can create. 

So what do I mean by spending time with beauty?  I mean take the time to be with, to truly connect to the essence of that beauty.  People can be surrounded by beauty and never notice that it’s there.  When you spend time with beauty, you take it in.  You allow it to nourish you, to enliven you, and to open yourself to something that is larger.  You may even feel more connected to all that is.  Gratitude comes to you naturally.  Inspiration may even come for a visit. 

Find out for yourself how beauty can enrich your life by asking yourself how can I open up to more beauty right now?  Then experience it, and discover its value.  Believe me.  You’ll want to make experiencing beauty a regular part of your day. 

Happiness – It’s Easier Than You Think

Happiness and Joy in NatureWould you like to experience happiness that lasts?  We all would, wouldn’t we?

Well, the fact is that happiness is an emotion.  Since all emotions are energy in motion (check out how emotion is spelled: e-motion), one experience of emotion, by its nature, will not last forever.   Don’t let this get you discouraged.  It is easy, let me repeat – easy, to create happiness.  It is, with some practice, not only possible, but quite realistic to live a life filled with happiness regardless of whether you are wealthy or not, male or female, or in any particular situation. 

Some researchers believe that people’s behavior and the choices that we make are ultimately driven by the desire for more pleasure or to avoid pain.  Though there are always exceptions, when someone endures pain (to protect someone, have a medical treatment, etc) or delays pleasure (studying instead of partying, investing in a retirement account, etc), even here it is usually to achieve an ultimate goal or reward that brings us pleasure or less pain.  So, in other words, we are hard-wired to be driven to create happiness in our lives.  Our bodies literally set us up to be successful at happiness.

1.     How to Be Happy

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh have studied happiness and determined that 50% of whether or not we tend to be happy is genetic.   The good news is that this means that a full 50% is within our control.  That’s a tremendous advantage.

So, how do we successfully use that 50% that’s in our control?  There are many ways, but here are just a few good ones.Happiness starts with the choice to be happy. 

This is perhaps the most important choice you can ever make.  Most people don’t even consider that happiness is a choice, but it is.  We’ve all seen two people in identical situations have opposite reactions to it.  What causes one person to get depressed or angry and another person to be joyfully happy?  Why does one person see a situation as a catastrophe and another sees it as just a challenging learning experience.  The answer is that it is a choice.  It is how we choose to frame the situation in our minds.  We can either be victims to our environment and our emotions or we can be in our own power knowing that we have or can get the resources we need to get through any challenge.  When you are in your power, even the tough times can breed happiness as you see yourself grow to meet any challenge.

 2.    Spend Time in Gratitude Each Day.

Gratitude journals have become very popular in the last few years.  Why?  Because when you practice paying attention to what is good in your life, your happiness increases dramatically.  How does this work?  Your brain is like a computer.  You give it a program, and it carries it out.  In this case, the intention is to find what is good in your life and what you are thankful for every day so you can write it down.  This activates the reticular activating system (RAS) in your brain, and it carries out its assignment to look for the good.  When you actually notice the good on a regular basis, you can’t help but feel happier.  On the other hand, if you don’t set this intention and wake up thinking “today is going to be a bad day,” your RAS does its job to look for all the reasons why today will be bad.  Which do you want?  Happiness or sadness?

 3.    Have Little Victories Every Day.

Accomplishing your goals fosters happiness as well, especially if the goals are meaningful to you.  So, it is valuable to not only set long term goals that matter, but smaller objectives that are attainable so that you can celebrate little victories every day.  By taking small step after small step, you ultimately reach your larger goal. 

I once had a teacher who believed so profoundly that you need to celebrate every day and that all goals should be phrased in a way that you would always succeed that he told me to set the goal of breathing every day so that I would always have something in which to celebrate and be grateful.

So what will it be?  Will you celebrate happiness with me?  It truly is your choice.