Feeling Off Balance
We all crave balance in our lives. That place where we feel like we aren’t being tugged and pulled in a million directions. We yearn for the time when we feel good about how we are spending our time and how we are spreading ourselves. We want peace, contentment and an easy flow of life. That is why the term work-life balance has become so popular.
What is Balance?
Balance is an equal distribution of weight and balancing is the process by which we try to achieve that. Like a tight ropewalker with their bar, we are constantly shifting our weight. That weight is all that is happening in our lives, our relationship and our own needs. In essence, we are trying to achieve that abstract point of balance. In order to attain true balance however one must stop. An object, or you, must be stationary to be completely balanced. Our lives are never stopped though and in reality, as much as we say we would like them to be, we really don’t want to be completely stationary. We want to be doing things, enjoying life and growing constantly.
I am suggesting then, that rather than looking for balance, you are looking to get good at balancing. You want to be good at slight adjustments to moving the weight in your life around while staying on your feet and moving forward. I am also suggesting the word you are looking for is stability. Stability is the ability of a body to restore its balance after a disturbance (change in position or orientation).
Think first of your immune system. How well do you bounce back after a cold? Does your body restore its balance after getting sick? What about when you slip on the ice. Are you able to restore your balance quickly or do you fall down? That is the concept of balancing our lives. Things happen. Lots of things! Every day we are faced with added weight on one side or the other. A project is given to you at work, your child is sick, you get a cold, you are asked to volunteer or you yearn to just relax and read a good book.
Leaning From One Side, Then to the Other
When something happens and weight gets added to one side, you lean that way. That’s normal. In order to regain balance, you need that stability. You need that ability to restore your life back to a healthy balance. This means there will be days you put more time and energy into work and other days that your home and personal needs call louder and you focus there. The question is; are you balancing? Are you conscious of how much you are leaning to one side, how close you are to tipping over? What are you doing to help put weight back on the other side to pull you back to being stable?
Imagine having your arms outstretched with all the components of you life in your hands. Are you leaning back and forth or toppling to one side? What needs to shift so your life is more balanced?
I blogged earlier this week about being present. In case you missed it, click here to read my experience of being present.
Being present is slowing down and really being aware of what is happening and experiencing the moment. We have a tendency to get caught up in what we need to do and fret and worry that we won’t have time; we worry about how we will handle things or what others will do. We also live in the past, re-living something that didn’t go so good in the past. We go over it again and again in our minds.
We live in the past and future
What happens is that this past and future thinking gets in the way of what we are supposed to be doing in the here and now. We are distracted from the paperwork in front of us, emails needing responded to, the person we are having a conversation with or focusing on the meeting we are attending.
Use your senses to become present at work
It all sounds good and fine to become present when things are slow and you’ve got time to relax and be present. But what does this really mean at work and during our busy days?
The best way to become present is to use all of your senses. Imagine being in a meeting that is long, boring and maybe even painful.
Start by taking a deep breath and notice what your senses are up to.
By pulling in all of your senses, you will be brought into the present. You will have a real feeling for what is going on and your reaction to it all. From here you will be more present, focused and aware of everything.
What changes for you?
Try it and let me know how it works. What changes did you notice? What was the impact of becoming more present?
What help with this? Try reading Mindful Leadership by Maria Gonzalez. She has a fabulous way of introducing mindfulness to the workplace.
I talk in my training sessions about being present and living in the moment. I explain that we struggle to do that because we have a tendency to live in the past or in the future.
Living in the Past
In our minds we re-live the past, going over events and conversations that have already happened. Just like a song stuck on repeat, they play again and again driving us crazy.
“I can’t believe he said that!”
“I can’t believe I did that”
“OMG that was such a stupid things to say!”
Living in the Future .
In the future we rehearse or plan in our minds what we are going to do or say.
“As soon as he is done making his point, I’ll say…”
“When I am done this, I will do …”
“After I am done here I am going to go…”
The Here and Now
What happens is we miss what is actually happing in the here and now. We aren’t really listening to what someone, is saying, what we are experiencing or the emotions that are coming up.
On my way back from Calgary last month, there was a beautiful sunrise to the east as I was driving. My first thought was “OMG I have to find the perfect spot to take a picture of that and share it on Facebook.” I was consumed with sharing the colors the glow and the beauty of it.
Noticing I was more frustrated about not being able to get a good shot of the sunrise rather than just experiencing it, I brought myself present. When I had the opportunity, I wound my way around side streets to a park where I pulled in and stopped so I could really experience the sunrise.
Emotion is Here
As soon as I did, I was overcome with a surge of gratitude. I was grateful for the numerous experiences and connections I’d made over the last couple of weeks. I was grateful to be heading home to my loving family and I was grateful to have beautiful weather to drive in knowing only 2 days previously had been treacherous conditions.
Driving away after a few moments I realized I hadn’t got “the shot”. Aware there remained in me an urge to share this wonder with my Facebook friends, I stopped once again, a little further down the road on the highway and took the picture to share this time being present to taking the picture.
Being present is simply slowing down and becoming aware, really aware of what is happening and what you are experiencing. That morning was about my gratitude for life, love, opportunities and connections. The sun had me stop and really experience that gratitude in the moment.
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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