Lately, I’ve been thinking about the word balance. This should be no surprise, after all the name of my blog includes it. I’ve been reading many articles or blog posts that seem to denounce balance as unattainable or perfection. Even if the certain posts aren’t denouncing it, the idea is that balance is somehow perfection. It is the ability to do all that is on our to-do list or want to do list. It is the ability to balance work, cleaning, and parenting all with time to spare and everyone happy. Running across posts like this, I wondered if this is really what I think balance is?
As I thought about this question I came to a few possible conclusions. That balance has a vastly different meaning than what I’ve thought and I need to go back to the drawing board and find a new word that I really like. It could be that the word has been hijacked like many other words and the meaning has been subverted so that it includes perfection, getting everything you want done, or some such burden that weights us down and crushes us. It also could just be that I approach the word a bit differently than others.
After looking up the dictionary definition I think it means what I’ve been thinking. It is interesting to see that there is no definition that equates it to being perfect, unless you extrapolate from the ideas of equal balance on a scale or balancing in terms of accounting. Despite this I don’t think the concept has been hijacked. I can totally see how some people might conclude that being balanced is to be perfect. To always be measured out perfectly and evenly with never a part out of place. Looking at the definitions the one that I like the best from Dictionary.com is number three, “mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.” That’s not even exactly the way I think about it, but it hits in the general area of where my mind goes when I think of balance.
I don’t think balance is being perfect. In all honesty I think it is trying to live our lives the best we can given the tensions that want to try to tear us apart. Maybe that sounds like perfect to you, but that’s not how I mean it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m right and you’re wrong, just that I’ve really never taken balance as perfection. In some ways it’s kind of hard to present exactly what I mean by balance in a short definition, at least at this point. However, I do think there are at least three components that are involved in my view of balance. They are an understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, embracing tension, and prioritization.
I thought I would be able to fit all of these things into one blog post, but as I got going I wound up in the 2000 word range with a fair amount to go. So due to this, I think I’m going to start a little four part series on balance and how I view it. This will be the first post and the other three will each focus in on each of the components I mentioned above. Maybe you won’t be convinced by the end that balance isn’t necessarily perfection, but at least I hope you see where I’m coming from. So next we’ll look at understanding our strengths and weaknesses connects to my idea of balance.
So let’s start off with some questions. Do you view balance as largely a negative or positive concept? Is it something that frees you or something that really burdens you with the idea of perfection?