The Myth of Balance

In the personal growth industry the word “balance” is thrown around a lot.

I get what it’s supposed to mean– not putting all of our time and attention on work or other obligations so that we can also attend to our families, health, relationships, communities and planet.

But here’s what I think of when I think of balance: stagnation.

It’s true. To me, the word feels boring.

A balanced life to me is a life where everything is equal. And everything being equal feels like nothing is moving.

Hence, stagnation.

When I think of balance I see the scales where the idea is to get things of the same weight on both sides so that one is not higher than the other.

But that’s not how life works.

Some days my work gets more attention than my kid. Some days my husband gets more attention than my health.

Some days my kid gets all the attention, and I don’t shower and I eat mostly potato chips.

Some days my friend calls in a crisis, and the things I thought were going to get my attention don’t get it.

Some days I chuck it all and lay around and nothing but rest gets my attention.

Depending on the season we’re in, be it parenting tiny ones, launching a business, sending kids out of the nest, scaling our venture to set it free one day, or scrapping it all and starting over, life will look very different.

There’s nothing balanced about it. But it is, indeed, beautiful.

Life is not static. We are not meant to give the same weight to everything in our lives every day.

Every day is not meant to be the same. As the moon waxes and wanes and the tides ebb and flow, we are different every day. And thus, our lives are different every day.

Aiming for balance assumes that there will be a day in the future where everything in your life will get the exact same amount of your time and energy and it will all be even and still and equal.

Sorry, honey. Ain’t gonna happen.

The pursuit of a balanced life leaves us feeling like we’re failing because it’s the pursuit of the impossible.

And I don’t even think it sounds desirable.

Instead, I want a dynamic life. I want a life that flows. I want to feel excited about my choices to spend more time and energy on one thing one day and more time and energy on another thing another day. And maybe no time and energy on housework and gardening any day.

Balance is a sister of Perfection. And these two ladies, you gotta watch out for them. They’ll act like they’re really there for you and you’ll get all aspirational and excited. Then, they’ll walk a few steps ahead of you, never letting you catch up. Always leaving you feeling left out and behind.

So, ditch them. Who needs ‘em. Your real friends, Mess and Truth and Vulnerability, have always been right there with you. They don’t care if your house is a mess when they come over. They just want to know what’s really going on, what really matters to you, and how you really are. Like, really.

So, wanna let go of the whole balance thing with me? Let’s live full out instead! Getting everything in our lives to be equal isn’t what we actually wanted anyway.

We want to live. We want to feel. We want our hearts to expand and our minds to be elevated and our bodies to feel ecstasy. We want our kids to be happy and our homes to be warm and our loved ones to know that we love them. And we want to do work that matters and do our part to leave the world better than we found it.

But we don’t want the same amount of each of these things each day. Because there’s no movement there.

We want to live and move and for our lives to breathe.

Let go of Even and welcome Movement. Let go of Balance and embrace Beauty.

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