The importance of balance in life(style)

“A cord on which you have balance,
is a chord on which you can dance.”

If there is one thing of which the importance has become clear over and over in my 25 years of living, it’s balance.

Balance is so important that it often keeps you within the healthy margins of living. It makes sure that the adverb ‘too’ isn’t too frequently placed in prior to the adjectives of your life. It’s for a reason we say that everything with ‘too’ in front of it is ‘no good‘.

Balance makes you end up in the middle. This is often seen as boring (by young people), but definitely the most safe place to be and the most stable. And creating opportunities in life is easier to do when you are in a stable situation. The United States of America has often been called: ‘The land of unbridled opportunities’. Just think of the American Dream (which by the way, as well can be an American Nightmare). “You should go to America to make it!” is what often has been said to people who want to be successful. Or what about the song Theme from New York, New York:

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”

Well, maybe this used to be the case, but it’s certainly not anymore. Even stronger; Maarten van Rossem, historian and specialized in the history and politics of The United States, states that you have more chances of a successful life and getting opportunities starting of in Europe, than if you would start of in ‘America’. I’m sorry for using ‘America here as the synonym for ‘The United States’. This completely neglects the fact that America (or ‘Americas’) is a continent that contains at least 34 other sovereign countries.
This ‘crumbling’ of the American Dream definitely has to do with the poverty of many Americans.

The crumbling of the American Dream (engagedsociologyeditor, 2018)

Around 50% of the Americans fall under the label ‘poor’ or ‘with low income’. From that percentage, 50 million Americans do not have the certainty of food. A big percentage of American men have a criminal past which makes it even more difficult for them to get a job, earn money and create opportunities. And then I’m not even talking about the black Americans. They are even worse of in almost all fields in ‘the land that was built by immigrants’.
Paying education is also a big problem for many Americans and almost impossible for the poorest 30%. They simply can’t afford the high education fee. Highly educated people marry each other and get children together that will also be highly educated. A process that happens over and over again. Because of this a highly educated elite is created (van Rossem, M., 2020). This elite doesn’t care so much what happens to the poorer majority of the country’s inhabitants. Although many Americans would love to deny it, a classification society is definitely present in The United States, contrary to balance. It might be ‘the greatest country on earth’, but it’s definitely not the most stable and balanced country. Also not the country where most opportunities are presented to you. Balance in race, social class, education and income would definitely help The United States and propel the dream, their dream, forward again. 

But also dealing with changes, are more manageable when you start off in ‘the stable middle’. Thus when you start off in balance. Because changes often shift the situation to a less stable position (more to the outsides of the spectrum). A good example of this is getting children.

As parents, you need to be in balnance to create a stable life for your child (photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna).

If your own life and that of your partner can be shifted to a more stable position, it will definitely aid with the bringing up of your child. Instability can for instance be found in not having a job or only work, having bad influences in your life, being only childish or not able to see the fun of being youthful, not having a stable place to live or seeing your (future) child as the best or not seeing him or her (or everyone in between) as special. There is also the situation in which parents become more balanced, because they have a child now: they don’t go out too often anymore, don’t go to bed too late and accept the other limits of living ‘the life with kids’. The limits that indicate that life becomes less good and healthy when exceeded. The parents take on a more balanced, and thus healthier lifestyle because of their child. 

But if I’m talking about balance in (your) life, I’m also talking about the more day to day businesses. Paying attention to other people, but not too much that they have the feeling you are watching them on every step they take.
Playing sports, but not so much that your body can’t handle it or it makes you unhappy.
Talking about (un)happiness. It’s maybe the best example. Your life should be in balance between happiness and unhappiness, with in between something that we in the English language call ‘satisfaction’. And when you can’t get it, your life becomes as a certain Rolling Stones song. This doesn’t sound too bad at all to be honest, but in reality would be troubling. Happiness is typically something that you cannot experience all the time. It comes and goes (in waves) and while it is very important to our life and can have many positive attributes, we should be careful to search for it everywhere and should still be content and satisfied in the times we are not happy.
Seasons should be in balance, because a ‘season lover’ couldn’t enjoy it as much if there weren’t any changes in different seasons. Also, changes in seasons give a new view on the world. There is difference in weather, different clothing style and different daily rhythms. And then we haven’t even talked about the importance of seasons and the balance between them to continue the cycle of life and contribute to a healthy world.
Then there is the balance in economy, which we are losing more and more. If we only care about earning money and becoming rich, we are banging on the ceiling of what the world can endure. We also shouldn’t be surprised if the ceiling collapses. Don’t get me wrong, a healthy economy is good. The economy and moneystream of the world is as the bloodstream through the human body: it keeps it alive. But the idea that a healthy economy = a growing economy is just wrong. Especially when that growing economy creates other problems in the world, such as your city taken over by tourists, pollution, exploitation (of children), or the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. For people who are not aware the Amazon is bit by bit becoming less rainforest and more business.

Donut (economisch model) - Wikipedia
The doughnut economy in graph form (Wikipedia)

A model that could solve the problems created by our unbridled will for a growing economy is the doughnut economy. The doughnut economy model is so interesting and important for a sustainable continuation of our life, that it deserves a blog post on its own. For now; it’s definitely something we all should be considering to contribute to. It’s the model that doesn’t say that growth = progress, but that balance = progress (TEDx Talks, 2014). The doughnut economy is the manifestation of the importance of balance in economy and life.

Also very important is the balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. In any form. I had to find this out the hard way. I always wanted to only care about others, but if you forget yourself in the process, you deny that you are also a human being with a mind and a body that needs love, attention and appreciation. You are denying that you have an ego, because you so badly not want to be egoistic. Well, you have one. You are one, like everyone. But acknowledging you have an ego, makes it easier to control it, to control yourself. This will also make it possible to be there for others more and care for them. So, you want to be good to others? Don’t forget to be good to yourself. Find the balance.

A good balance between sexual and emotional relationships with people and balance between sex and emotion in a relationship is also important to stay satisfied in all human needs.
A good balance between work and free time. Between sleep and being awake. Between being online and offline. Between too far and too close. Between too loud and not loud enough. Between too warm and too cold. Between too early and too late. Between putting effort into something, but not too much that it is unnatural, even though it is of such great importance (to you).
And maybe that’s the other important thing; if something is (un)natural. Because how would you know that you or something is in balance? Well, maybe if it feels natural to you. This could be the reason that balance is different for everyone, because ‘what is natural’ is different for everyone. For most of us, doing sports on a professional level for instance is unnatural. This makes it not healthy, but rather unhealthy (Pickering, C., 2020; Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, 2018).

The list for the importance and positive sides of balance in (your) life goes on and on and should be printed in your head and be put on the inside of your frontal lobe of your brain. Balance can be found everywhere and is everywhere for a reason; to guide the way to the best, most healthy and satisfied life.

I have to be honest, there is one thing I just can’t find any balance in and it is the pain that we cause to other people, animals and mother earth in situations such as war, stealing, rape, discrimination, abuse, exploitation, killing, deforestation, rapid climate change and pollution. They will always be the heavier weights on the scale. The only way you can get the scale in balance in my opinion is by removing those weights. Being active in those fields is creating imbalance. And since creating imbalance is the opposite of creating balance, it is the opposite of creating a better tomorrow. And creating a better tomorrow should be the primary reason for being alive today. It should be the reason to make today as balanced as possible.     

*It could be that this article is updated from time to time.

Sources
engagedsociologyeditor. (2018, 30 april). The Illusion of the American Dream: How the American Dream Fails to Acknowledge Inequality. Geraadpleegd op 29 juni 2020, van https://engagedsociology.com/2018/04/30/the-illusion-of-the-american-dream-how-the-american-dream-fails-to-acknowledge-inequality/

Pickering, C. (2020, 18 april). Are Elite Athletes ‘Healthy’? Geraadpleegd op 27 juni 2020, van https://simplifaster.com/articles/elite-athletes-healthy/

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu. (2018). Topsport: gezond en autonoom? Geraadpleegd op 27 juni 2020, van https://www.sportenbewegenincijfers.nl/toekomstverkenning/kansen-en-keuzes/topsport#:%7E:text=Topsport%20is%20niet%20per%20definitie,voor%20topsporters%20een%20lastige%20zaak.

TEDx Talks. (2014, 16 december). Why it’s time for “Doughnut Economics” | Kate Raworth | TEDxAthens [Videobestand]. Geraadpleegd van https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BHOflzxPjI

van Rossem, M. (2020, 17 maart). Maarten van Rossem over de vervlogen Amerikaanse dvan Rossem, M. (2020, 17 maart). Maarten van Rossem over de vervlogen Amerikaanse droom. Geraadpleegd op 27 juni 2020, van https://www.maartenonline.nl/de-vervlogen-amerikaanse-droom/#utm_source=TWAmerikaansedroom21102019&utm_campaign=TWAmerikaansedroom21102019

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, 28 juni). Doughnut (economic model). Geraadpleegd op 29 juni 2020, van https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doughnut_(economic_model)

Published by Vincent Donders

Groot muziekliefhebber en erg geïnteresseerd in wetenschap en educatie. Instagram: vincentdonders.

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