— By Reena Raj
Balance, or positive balance, does not get much airplay these days. It does not sound as dynamic or exciting as concepts of passion, resilience, grit, optimism.
Everyone wants to be super-passionate, super-resilient, super-optimistic, and super-determined. These are dynamic and glamorous concepts. Compared to these, perhaps, the allure of balance appears rather pale. Amidst these powerful and dynamic notions, the appeal of balance is somewhat lost.
Yet the real secret to a content and meaningful life often lies in the fine balance of things.
Too much passion can turn into obsession. Too much resilience can become resistance. Too much compassion can turn into gullibility.
Grit in large doses can turn into inflexibility, optimism into blind faith, zest into hyperactivity.
Who wants balance? That’s boring, right!
Actually, it’s when we are out of balance, that’s when our life becomes problematic. Being out of balance creates disharmony in our lives. When we get so bogged down in our daily schedule and routine, we loose sight of where our life is actually heading.
Or, when we focus too much on long-term goals, we forget to cherish and enjoy what is around us in the present moment. For real contentment that goes beyond hedonic happiness, we need to create the right balance between the present and the future.
[By the way, do you even know Why Should You Be Happy?]
Positive balance applies to almost everything in life. When we’re giving too much love to our children, we smother them. Too less, and we neglect them.
Too much alone time can isolate us, while too little of it creates the fear of loneliness.
And we all know too well about eating – much or little, it’s harmful both ways. We all understand that a balanced diet is the key to good optimal health.
So, if balance is the key, why is the concept of balance in our lives so unpopular? Is it because balance just means moderation?
Moderation means something in-between, something average or standard. Average and standard applies to being ordinary, and no one wants to be ordinary. Everyone wants to be special and indeed everyone is for sure unique and special in his or her own way.
However, creating positive balance isn’t about seeking the median point or mastering the ordinary life. It is about knowing what makes up your own right balance.
Your right balance may not be someone else’s right balance. Your right positive balance at a particular stage in your life could be more work and less play. For someone else, it might be different. For them, the right balance at their specific stage in life may mean less of career pursuits and more of leisure.
Positive balance doesn’t mean not having too much or too less of something. Positive balance, instead, means knowing when and what is important. It means having clarity on your life’s priorities.
The author’s book Clock versus Compass looks at some of these everyday concepts with a view to explore the positive balance of our lives’ real priorities. It is a unique amalgamation of easy, bite-sized concepts from the fields of positive psychology, coaching and spirituality. It goes through some 250 abstracted comparisons and contrasts vital in our lives.
- Living life versus Loving life
- Stubborn versus Strong
- Limiting belief versus Power belief
- To-do list versus To-be list
- Waiting versus Patience
- Careless versus Carefree
- Certainty versus Clarity
- Growing old versus Growing Up
- Excitement versus Happiness
- Nil mind versus Still Mind
- Self-centered versus Being centered
- Love (noun) versus Love (verb)
- Cave versus Retreat
- Attachment versus Love
- Coconut versus Peach
- Worry versus Care
- Sacrificing versus Giving
- Clock versus Compass
These comparisons and contrasts might help you in getting some clarity on the real priorities in life.
The book is a unique catalog of analogies, metaphors, comparisons and contrasts that help you highlight the priorities in life. When we become aware of what’s actually important, we can create positive balance and harmony in our lives.Positive balance is about balancing the right priority with the situation. Click To Tweet
Some examples from the book:
Stubborn versus Strong
Being strong sometimes may turn into stubbornness.
Stubborn means to stand your ground. It further means to stand your ground ‘no matter what’. More often than not a stubborn person knows that they are wrong but they refuse to admit it.
Stubbornness is unwillingness to change your mind or your opinion, no matter what. To them being right is more important than to have the right solution.
A strong person also stands their ground. They have the resolve and conviction to stand up for what they believe in. They are tough but at the same time they also remain open minded.
They are humble enough to admit they are wrong, and insightful enough to change for a better solution. The strength of the strong person lies in open-mindedness towards change.
A stubborn person has no ability to listen to others. But the strength of a strong person comes from their ability to listen to and understand others. While the weakness of a stubborn person comes from their inability to change.
When we become aware of these differences, we learn how to balance out being strong and being open-minded, so that our strength does not turn into stubbornness.
Cave versus Retreat
Alone-time is important. But what is the quality of our alone-time? Do we treat it like a cave or a retreat?
Going into a cave is about despising the outside world and not wanting to take part. It’s like putting ourselves in a confinement.
Being in a retreat means while you feel blessed to be a part of this beautiful world, you want to withdraw for a while to appreciate it from a distance.
Cave means shutting out the present. Retreat means silencing the past and the future, and becoming fully present.
Some alone-time is necessary for refreshing and renewing your energies, but a cave isn’t the right place for that. A cave is an isolated, cold and dark place. A cave is not a nice place to be; you go there out of aversion.
We need to understand the difference between true solitude and the need to shut out others. A retreat is the balance between true solitude and inner gratitude.
Worry versus Care
Worrying does not mean caring. It does not help the situation or the person. When you show worry, you are actually showing your own fear. Worry is useless.
Care does not mean becoming restless, anxious, or upset yourself for the other person. That way, you might be adding to their distress rather than helping them.
Caring is the right balance between doing something for the other person while maintaining your own inner calm.
Know the difference between worry and care to worry less but care more.
Coconut versus Peach
Coconut is hard on the outside and soft and hollow inside. Peach is soft on the outside but its core is strong and solid.
Being hard inside does not mean being cold and corrugated, it means to be solid and stable inside. Being soft outside means to be gentle and empathetic with everyone. Often we hear that to be a softie inside is a quality. A softie gets affected by everything that is on the outside.
To navigate through this world with elan, we need to maintain a positive balance between inner sturdiness and outer softness.
It’s far better to be a Peach. You might get crushed and bruised on the outside but you remain solid and intact inside. A Coconut once cracked loses all its inner fluid.
Clock versus Compass
Are you living your life by the clock or by the compass? Are you so caught up in managing your minutes, hours, days that you are avoiding your entire life?
You can be very successful in managing your hourly, daily, weekly schedules, yet have no clue where your life is headed. You don’t know what you want out of life, while your life goes ticking by the clock.
Your inner compass is important, perhaps more important than the clock in the office. Feel your inner compass and don’t let your life go by looking at the office clock.
Living by the compass does not mean being careless about schedules and poor time keeping. It means to balance the importance of daily tasks with the deeper connection to the purpose of your life.
Feel your inner compass and don’t let your life go by looking at the office clock.
Similarly, in the book I go through many other such comparisons and contrasts. There are also suggested activities, exercises and ideas to explore and it is important to engage with these in order to promote inner reflection and learning.
Last of all, there is no particular order and it is perfectly okay to flick through and read any random page in the book.
Here’s the book link:
Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Short Cuts To Happiness and Harvard University lecturer in Psychology
- A witty, accessible and charming book. If you are looking to savour your life, one bite at a time, this just may be the book for you!
Mike George, author of Being Beyond Belief
- Find a quiet space, relax and enjoy the clever juxtapositions, insightful comparisons and piercing reflections that all come together in this collection of nuggets of perennial wisdom.
Dr Sandip Roy, Founder Happiness India Project. Science of Happiness speaker and Medical Doctor.
- A nifty little book of bite-sized wisdom that you can pick up anytime, flip to any page, and come off wiser reading it. It’s meant to be kept at hand, wherever you go. Read it for quickly upping your cleverness and wisdom in a fast-paced world.
Dr Paul T. P. Wong, President of the International Network on Personal Meaning
- The heart and soul of Positive Psychology 2.0 is the striving towards a positive balance. Happiness, meaning and resilience all come from successful negations for a dynamic, positive balance between hurting and healing, chaos and order.
• • •
Author Bio: Reena Raj is a Positive Psychology practitioner (MSc MAPP), a qualified coach, yoga instructor and an artist. She specializes in Mindfulness and Existential coaching. She manages her portfolio career by applying themes from positive psychology, coaching and Yoga in her writing and mind and body practice. She works with individuals as well as organisations at all levels to facilitate positive growth and help people reach their highest potential. She is actively involved with assisting charities in creating programs that enable positive change. You may follow her on Twitter.
- Picture credit: Photo by Mathilde Merlin on Unsplash.
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