Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. Thomas Merton
Call it balance or moderation, but it is that characteristic that eludes the masses. We frequently hear people use the phrase, “moderation in everything” yet seldom do we see many who are able to live it. Why are people so prone to get excessive in just about any area of their lives? The reasons are numerous: people are selfish and greedy, everyone wants more, more is never enough, we all want acceptance and praise, we long for a sense of control and mastery, we all want to be significant, each of us wants to excel and be good at something, we long for security and comfort, pleasures and fun.
We could go on and on with these reasons that can cause us to get out of balance. Identifying the reasons why we tend to go overboard in one area and neglect or ignore another area can be helpful in recognizing and avoiding patterns, triggers or emotional reactions stemming from unmet needs and unfulfillment, but regardless of the cause for our excessive desires and drives, the fact remains that we have got to learn to develop balance in our lives.
Just how do we develop and live in the beauty of balance?
First, we each have to take the time to get honest with ourselves and decide what success is in our lives. So as Stephen Covey stated; “We begin with the end in mind.” What does a successful, happy and peaceful life look like to you? That will vary from person to person. We must however intentionally take the time to search deep within and determine what that is for us.
Next, look at each component of your life and determine if it is how it needs to be. Look at your physical health and consider if you are making healthy choices that will benefit your body now and in the future. What about your thoughts and emotions? Are they contributing in supporting and pushing you toward your definition of success or are they keeping you fearful, depressed and apathetic? Are you managing your finances or are your finances managing you? Are your relationships at home, work, community events and church, healthy and fulfilling or nonexistent? How about your personal relationship with your Creator? “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.” Thomas Merton
Balance means that each of these areas in our life can thrive without sacrificing the others. Many in our modern society sacrifice their health, time with their families and time with God for financial security. Others focus so much on filling their need for acceptance by others that they neglect their jobs. There are some who are so consumed with their weight and body that the time and energy spent working out is taken from their jobs or their families.
Finally, each time you are making a decision of how you will spend your money, time and your energy ask yourself this simple question, Is what I am doing right now getting me closer to where I want to be tomorrow, or five years from now? Are my present decisions helping me reach my goal of success for life? If not, it might mean there are some things we need to get rid of, or maybe it just requires that we scale back certain areas. This question may lead us to see that there are some things we need to acquire or put more time and energy into.
This personal questioning and identification of what success is should not consume us and steal all the spontaneity out of life. Remember we are going for balance or moderation. Its nice to know that fun and chocolate can be part of this success, so can sleeping in late on occasion, taking a day off of exercising, watching a good movie with your family and going out for pizza with your friends. Humor, joy and relaxation are needed and helpful in our striving for balance.
In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”
What is stopping you from enjoying this abundant life?
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