Balance

The idea that much of what is good for us lies in the middle has been resonating with me lately.  Much of what ails us is caused by too much or too little of a good or bad thing.  A few that come to mind:

  • Too much sunlight can cause cancer, but too little can lead to not enough Vitamin D conversion.
  • Too much exercise can lead to overuse injuries, but too little can lead to lots of negative effects (cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, etc.)
  • Being too strict with your kids can lead them to rebel (some claim), while being too lax can cause them to be spoiled.
  • Too much work can cause stress, while too little work leads to boredom.

I think about these ideas when I am health coaching people.  A lot of times, someone is doing too much or too little of something, and I am trying to lead them towards the middle.  It’s safest in the middle.  It’s not terribly exciting, but it’s safe.

I find myself in a daily struggle to maintain that balance.  I know that I do best when I spend a good amount of time with my kids: teaching them, feeding them nourishing food, guiding them, playing with them, begging them to clean up their rooms.  But, after an entire day with them, I’m done!  I need balance.  I need time alone with a book or show that is not for kids.  I need to re-balance that scale.

I take the same approach with food.  I love dark chocolate, rich desserts, and gyros.  And, every once in awhile, a big plate of ribs hits the spot. But, after a day or evening of indulging, I’m all for some high fiber cereal with fruit–or as Patch refers to them: “horkin’ fiber chunks”.  It’s why I have no problem with you seeing me eat those deliciously greasy chupaquesos (an egg filled quesadilla with a cheese shell).

I find the same balance with my love of our great city (Chicago), while maintaining a yearning for a simpler country life.  I often wonder if I moved to the country would I get used to not having a TJ Maxx or Trader Joes only a few minutes away.  I’m not sure!  I get excited to check out a new restaurant in the city, but after two hours one way in traffic, I’m ready to head north to the green and open spaces in Wisconsin.  As soon as I cross the border, I breath easier.

When I think back to times in my life when I was not as happy.  A lot of the unhappiness stemmed from a lack of balance.  When I was working too much and not seeing my kids enough, having more money didn’t make up for the lack of balance.  I may not make as much money now, but the balance has brought happiness.

I guess the ancient Taoists knew what they were talking about when they came up with the concept of Yin and Yang.  This principle attests that there are two halves to every whole, and when one side dominates, the other works to bring the two back into balance.  This concept can be applied to many aspects of health and life, even if it is simple small steps in the direction of balance.

Are there areas in your life that you find are unbalanced?  What could you do to begin to restore that balance?  It might be as simple as going to a walk and enjoying some fresh air after a long day at work.

Watching these two sweet boys help out in the yard helps me feel balanced.

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