Number 21 in a Series
What does living a balanced life mean to you?
The above version of the Chinese yin and yang symbol pictures oneness, harmony, and balance.
When my head and my heart are in balance, my life flows and I am meaningfully connected to everyone and everything around me, including a Spirit that is greater than myself. I cannot disrespect others or nature and I cannot compromise my own integrity.
At times, my life goes out of balance. For example, I was unbalanced a lot of the time when being successful consumed much of the time that could have gone into making a deeper emotional connection with my family. Some of this was necessary and some of it came from being out of sync with my heart.
I know I’m not alone in experiencing times when a career predominates over spending quality time with family. And, there are many other examples of head and heart being out of balance such as:
- Coaches who place winning over the welfare of their athletes,
- School administrators and teachers holding increasing test scores as more valuable than focusing on teaching analytical thinking skills,
- Businesses making profits more important than the well-being of their employees and our environment, and
- Politicians who make staying in office more important than doing what’s best for their constituents and their country.
The problems created by living out of balance are often addressed by attempts to control behavior. Whether it’s passing laws or using guilt trips, these attempts are met with limited success. Everything has a very different result when the heart is an integral part of influencing our actions.
One such example can be seen in the futile attempts of sermons and punishment to get people to live by the Ten Commandments. Consider the difference it would make if the following little known interpretation of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments was practiced. In it, God does not give his commandments as a series of “Thou shalt nots” but as values that begin with, “When I (God) am in your heart you will not . . .”
The human body is designed to function in balance. The two hemispheres of the brain are equally divided and each has the primary responsibility for different functions. The left hemisphere is primarily responsible for mental processes, our intellect. Emotional and spiritual processes reside primarily in the right hemisphere.
Living a balanced life starts with balancing heart and intellect. In this culture we emphasize the importance of the intellect while our emotional and spiritual sides atrophy, particularly in men. I was reminded of this when I spent some time in south Florida and developed friendships with many Latinos.
At potluck get-togethers we brought food, ate and while Latin music played we danced. I compared this to the potluck I was used to attending where we bring food, eat and talk.
In general, Latin culture’s tend to be more right brain while Western culture’s place more of an emphasis on the intellect. The opportunity to connect with, and embrace more of my right brain was a small but significant step in my journey toward bringing my life more into balance.
Keeping my life balanced is like navigating a ship through a storm. Just as a gyroscope keeps a ship balanced and on course, it is my heart that serves as an internal gyroscope. When connected to my heart it pulls me back into the balance that brings with it true joy and fulfillment.
For Your Journey
- What percentage of your time is spent developing your life intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically and socially?
- What percentage of your time is spent pursuing your career and spending quality time with your significant other and children?
- If there are significant imbalances in either of the above questions, what are the negative consequences of that imbalance?
- What fears and beliefs must be overcome for you to live a more balanced life?
- Share-it-forward. Share with another person what you’re learning about living a more balanced life.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
Next Week: # 22 – Being Fully Human Lies Beyond “Masculine” and “Feminine”
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr / Quinn Dombrowski