Every time I read the phrase “life balance” I’m amazed that it even still exists. The first “Life Balance” seminars I conducted were thirty-five years ago. It was a hot topic in the late ’70s and early ’80s with books like You Can Heal Your Life and The Feminine Mystique being big hits. My own book from 1983, The Saga of a Superwoman, about not trying to be all things to all people all of the time was bought by corporations in bulks of hundreds to give to their female employees.
So way back then I assumed that by now everyone would be so informed we’d all be as good as Olympic gymnasts on the balance beam of life.
But the endless popularity of the topic is evidence to the contrary. That evidence is all around us with frantic parents, droopy-eyed commuters, and store clerks who can’t stop texting. Do you see yourself in any of those? Too many people are mired in what writer Nancy Forbes calls “the cult of busy-ness.”
I used to spend an entire day in my seminars doling out advice about how to streamline our days and find that elusive life balance. I’ve since decided that it isn’t all that hard.
There are some obvious tips, like start saying “no” to your kids every time they ask for one more activity to join. Sometimes teaching them that they, too, shouldn’t get caught up in busy-ness is the best parenting you can do.
Apart from that most obvious tip, there are three things that you can easily do to begin tuning down your lifestyle. The first are free and the last will cost a nickel or two, but is well worth it.
Firstly, take a walk. Yup. That’s it. Get out of your house, apartment, office, gym, classroom, shop, car, bar…. and walk somewhere. Look at what’s around you. Touch a tree or two. (Hugging not required, but feel free if so inspired.) If you’re in the city, look at the people on the street. The key is not only to get your body moving but to get your mind moving, too, away from the ordinary. Let yourself take in nature, clouds, people, animals, and uncirculated air. As corny as it sounds, reconnect with nature.
Secondly, read a good book. Let your mind escape to new places and your thoughts encompass new personalities. Use your imagination. Get lost in the book. Leave your life behind. You don’t need to buy books or own a Kindle or even search too hard. Just go to your local library and ask for recommendations.
Thirdly, try yoga, if you don’t do it already. If you do, make sure you let yourself leave your daily schedule, mental reminders, family harassments, work woes, and everything else on the other side of the door. Let your yoga mat be your place of peace, your escape from the rest of the world. This is a place and time just for you, just for renewing your soul. Remember your soul? It’s that part of you that so easily gets lost in the chaos of daily life. Get it back on the mat.
Don’t worry if you think you can’t do yoga. I’ve done it for years and am still quite clumsy at it. I don’t care. I love it. My instructor, Sue, is marvelous at doing a basic pose and then saying we can stay there or go to the more advanced version that she demonstrates. Ha. I usually “stay.” At age sixty-six, the stretches feel fantastic and smooth out this body after other workouts during the week and far to many hours sitting at a computer. Go ahead; give it a shot. If I can do it, you can, too.
Best of all is that I have to focus so hard to do the poses that there isn’t one moment to worry, fret, or bitch in my head about anything. For one hour my entire existence is focused on not falling over. It’s a great metaphor for life.
Strike a balance of your own. Do whatever it takes to stay out of the morass of busy-ness that consumes so many. Take a walk, read a good book, and try yoga. Let your mind and body belong to you, not the rest of the world.