I have the answer to everything.
Moderation and balance.
There you go. End of post.
Well, not really. You see, we all know that moderation and balance are the keys to life, don’t we? Let’s see…
Easy, isn’t it? Don’t overeat, don’t push too hard, experience the highs with the lows and all that. Simple right? It’s not. So, if moderation and balance are the answer to success in everything we are striving for in life, why is it so damn hard to achieve?
If you Google ‘how to achieve balance‘ you are offered roughly “403,000,000 results (0.59 seconds)”. That’s 403 million pages! It’s a hot, hot topic! Why? because it’s not that simple. Why? because we are still all trying to achieve this holiest of grails.
So why are moderation and balance so damn hard to achieve?
I don’t have the answer if I did I’d certainly be rich by now, but I do have some inklings…
1. We are too hard on ourselves
Most of us suffer internal conflicts on a daily basis. If you don’t, Kudos to you and please share your secret in the comments. For the rest of us, we hold ourselves at a standard so high that it is often unattainable. A standard which we wouldn’t impose on anyone else because it is too high. We are perfectionists, granted, some more than others, and anything less that success or perfection from ourselves is sub-standard. We expect that we can be everything to everyone, no matter what our circumstances and when we are not – we have failed. Until we turn this internal dialogue and self-expectedness around there is no way we can live with a balanced attitude.
2. We still compare ourselves to others
Ah yes, the old comparison. Theodore Roosevelt said it perfectly…
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Even though we know this, we still look over the fence at the perfectly watered and manicured lawns of our neighbours. We look at others and believe their existence is better than ours. Their clothes, their weight, the jobs, their children, their husband/wife, their friends, their car, their house. We think how much funnier they are, how at ease they are in conversion – always knowing what to say. We admire their ability to ‘balance’ their own lives and to be so on top of things. So calm, so relaxed, so happy.
What we don’t remind ourselves is that we are all on different journeys. And we are all at different points on those journeys. And, probably most importantly, we all wear a social mask in one form or another.
Do we really know what goes on behind closed doors? Do we know the woman who dresses so beautifully struggles each night with anxiety about ‘keeping up her appearance’?
Do we know that the mother who appears to have everything under control cries herself to sleep at night?
We don’t. They are wearing their social mask just as we are.
Everyone wears a mask to hide their true selves. Some wear it more consistently, some at times when they need it most. So if we stopped to think about this, we should also ask — ‘What are we really comparing ourselves to?’
3. The world is too small
Is the world shrinking? YES! Not in a physical sense of course, but in the way that we can simply tap away on the computer and have access to anywhere or anyone in the world. We can fill our social media feeds with other people’s lives, those who we know, those who we don’t. We can Google anything and be given millions of pages of answers, opinions and points of view.
The lives of others, opinions and points of view, knowing what is fact and what is fiction, it all adds up to confusing the hell out of us. We begin questioning ourselves and our choices. We judge ourselves harshly (see point 1), and we compare ourselves too often (see point 2).
With all this information screaming at us all the time there is no way we can think for ourselves. Gone are the days where we might have been ‘keeping up with Joneses’, we are now keeping up with the whole damn worldwide phonebook. We need to bring it back to home and look within before we look outwardly. Which brings me to point number 4.
4. We believe that happiness exists elsewhere
We are told that happiness is the key to success. That once you are happy, everything will fall into place. That the perfect job, the new model car, the newly built or renovated house or the 2.3 children will bring us the happiness we are searching for.
I’ve blogged about happiness before. It is an emotion. Just as sadness, anger and fear. Well-rounded people experience all emotions and to expect that happiness is something that can be captured and experienced all the time is unrealistic.
Happiness won’t bring you contentment, it won’t bring you balance. Balance is only achieved when we look inwards and understand that we are human. And that human beings have the privilege of feeling emotions of all sorts. Happiness is just one of them.
5. We want to make someone proud
Too often we try too hard to achieve things in life. When we do this our quest for balance is thrown off kilter. We might be striving to make our parents proud. Those comments said under their breath or behind closed doors when we were younger linger at the back of our minds. One day… we think. One day.
We may be trying to make our partners or our children proud of us. See what I can do! Aren’t you proud? See, you can do anything too.
Or our peers. Look at what I’ve achieved! I have it all together!
It’s all in good faith; it’s with good meaning, but are we doing it for the right reasons? Or are we trying to live someone else’s vision for us? What we think will make them proud of us? Instead, ask what will make you proud of you. It might even be something as simple as making it through the day. And that’s okay.
So why is it so hard to achieve moderation and balance in life?
Because we are human.
Our brains fight with our hearts. Our instincts fight with our feelings. We are a complex ball of matter to which there is no understanding. We can only do what we know to do at each particular moment in time. And all we can do is look within. Trust in our inner compass and let it steer us in the direction it will. There will be failures, successes, joys and sadness – but within all of that, I think there is actually some kind of weird and wonderful balance. Don’t you?
What’s your key to balance?
Or is it in the too hard basket?