This is the ninth in our series of articles about The 8 Keys of Excellence, which serve as a foundation for our leading residential teen summer camp, SuperCamp. See our Intro article as well as links to previous Key articles here: The 8 Keys of Excellence: Principles to Live By.
Live your best life. Be mindful of self and others while focusing on what’s meaningful and important in your life. Inner happiness and fulfillment come when your mind, body and emotions are nurtured by the choices you make.
When we’re in balance we make time for the things that are important to us. Staying in balance is an ongoing process about choices. We’re constantly making choices about what we do, what we say, how we feel, what we think, etc.
When questions arise about how we spend our time, we make choices depending on what’s important in the moment. We may choose to give up time with friends to finish a project for school, or we may choose to put aside something we’re doing to help a friend. Many of the choices we make every day—choices about school, work, hobbies, sports, family, friends, health, etc.—are about balance.
Balance is not about rigidly devoting equal time to everything that matters to us, and it’s not about totally immersing ourselves in one area of our lives to the exclusion of all others. Balance is about considering everything that’s meaningful and important to us when we make choices about how we spend our time and energy. When we find the right balance we are happy, healthy, productive, and fulfilled.
Create balance in your life by apportioning your time according to your highest priorities. Think about the things that are most important to you . . . family, friends, a hobby, a talent you have, or a cause you care about? Spending time on the things that are important to you brings a sense of balance. Staying in balance is an ongoing process that is affected by the choices you make every day. When we make all these choices in our lives, we need to find the right balance between the things we need to do and the things we want to do, the things that bring joy and fulfillment to our lives. Living with balance brings a feeling of quiet peace you might not even notice.
Balance is a subtle, quiet Key
Balance is subtle. You may not always recognize it when it’s there, but you’ll feel its absence. Imbalance clanks loudly, like a car that needs tuning. When you’re out of balance, you know it. When you make time for what matters in your life, your life will be in balance, you’ll feel fulfilled, and you won’t be plagued with a nagging sensation that some aspect of life is passing you by.
Balance is not about rigidly devoting equal time to everything that matters to you—it’s about prioritizing and then being flexible with your allocation of time and energy until you feel the greatest sense of fulfillment. That’s balance.
Do you feel like you’re missing something?
The first symptom that your life is out of balance may be the sensation that you’re missing something. Soon, the empty feeling caused by that “something missing” begins to affect your performance in many areas of your life. Burnout, frustration, exhaustion, disillusionment, and fatigue are all symptoms of imbalance.
The biggest casualty in loss of balance is the big picture. The further out of balance your life gets, the harder it is to stay focused on the reasons you’re doing all these things in the first place. You can’t be your best “you” when the things that are important to you aren’t getting the attention they need.
Some research about balance
Maybe the “something missing” in your life relates to one or more of the following. These elements of living a balanced life have been shown by research to be areas that provide maximum fulfillment.
- Friends and family. Have fun with them and get to know them well with meaningful communication.
- Get in the zone. Spend time on activities that are deeply rewarding and put you in that state of heightened focus and blissful immersion.
- Measure yourself by your own standards. Comparing yourself with others leads to frustration, not fulfillment. Life is not a competition, but a personal challenge
- Forgive yourself and others. Holding on to resentment and anger over something you think should have been said or done differently will simply hold you back in life. The past is done—focus on the present and move forward.
Check your priorities daily
Balance has little to do with the amount of time you spend in any particular area of your life. The secret of achieving balance lies not in your allotment of time but in an awareness of your priorities. You may not recognize that you’re out of balance unless you take the time to step back and look at your life from a different perspective. When you’re keeping yourself in balance you’re constantly asking yourself, What do I value? What’s really important to me? Does this activity really need to be done now? Balance is about choices.
Tune in to the signals
No matter how good you become at prioritizing and making choices, you won’t be in balance every moment of every day. Try to tune in to the signals your mind, emotions, and body send that warn you when you’re slipping out of balance, and adjust your choices sooner rather than later. The quicker you realign yourself, the smaller the out-of-balance “wobble” you’ll have to correct.
Fulfillment creates balance—and balance creates fulfillment. Make choices that are consistent with what makes you feel fulfilled.
Think in ink
What if our life was not about being happy and comfortable, but about being fulfilled? Balance relates to aligning mind, body, and emotions to have a life that makes us feel content and fulfilled. We need to remember that the things that make us happy in the moment may temporarily satisfy us, but they may not bring meaning and fulfillment to our life.
Consider how the Key of Balance shows up in your life as you write your thoughts about the following questions:
- In what areas of my life could I spend more time to feel more fulfilled?
- A sport?
- A hobby?
- What specific things can I do—what can I spend more or less time on—to be happier every day?
- What can I do to get “in the zone” more often?
- A sport, like running?
- A hobby?
- A project I’m passionate about?
- Do I often compare myself to others? In what areas of my life do I do this? School? Sports? What can I do to remember to measure myself by my own standards?
- Am I holding on to any resentment or anger toward myself or others? Do I have friends or family I need to forgive? Myself? When am I going to forgive and apologize wherever needed so I can let it go, focus on the present and move forward?
“You do have choices about how you spend your time.
Balancing what you need to do with what you want to do
can lead to happiness and success.”
About the Contributor: Since 1982, SUPERCAMP, Monthly Mentor, has inspired and empowered thousands of teens to feel confident and motivated, and to excel in school and beyond. SuperCamp offers six-, seven-, and ten-day residential programs for students in middle school, high school, and first-year college. Living on a college campus is a great experience for teens and most of our grads go directly to a four-year college after high school. As teens from around the world gather at SuperCamp, they are inspired to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve, and they acquire learning and life skills that empower them to thrive in all areas of their life. Read More…
(See what some recent grads have to say about SuperCamp at www.supercamp.com/student-testimonials.)