How often have you heard someone say that they seek to find balance in their lives? I would guess quite often, and I think the idea is a noble one. When we say we seek to find balance, we might mean that we are trying to keep grounded in the midst of difficulty, or that we are trying not to spend too much time in any one facet of our lives, like our work. Perhaps we are referring to our emotional state, and finding a place of peace and quietude inside of us. Or, we are trying to ensure that our own and our partner’s needs are met equally.
Again, I stress that this is a very noble pursuit and one which is probably lifelong for most of us. But, I challenge us to think of this concept of balance in a different way, and so replacing the idea of balance with harmony.
I know I’m not the first to say this, because this idea came up in my life years ago in conversation with someone close to me. What resulted from a beautiful and profound conversation was that balance is not what we should or can seek, for a few reasons.
I’ll begin to explain my point by providing a visual: what do you imagine when you picture a scale in balance? The two sides of the scale sit precisely across from one another, neither higher nor lower. When the scale comes perfectly into balance, there is no movement. And, as long as nothing touches the scale, and no weight is added or taken away from either side, the scale will remain in balance forevermore.
Life is not like a scale. Day by day, even hour by hour, circumstances and environments change. We are impacted by other people, the weather, our own internal physiological workings, and many other conditions often out of our control. Because of this, we can never truly have life technically in balance, nor should we want it to be I’d argue, as this alludes to a lack of growth and change.
Furthermore, change is good for us, most of the time, even when we don’t like it. And when something changes within us or around us, it will impact other areas of our being or our life as well. The idea is to remain in a state of harmony as much as we can, even when our life is changing, and even when those changes challenge us. Harmony, in this context, means there is accord, peace, synchronicity. We find ways to move with the change of our lives, allowing change or even negative circumstances to stimulate us to grow.
This can be applied back to the ideas we often hear discussed about finding balance. For example, if we are busy in our work life and wish to find ways to protect our personal time too, we find strategies to ensure that where one day might be overrun with work, another day might be dedicated to play. It is not the ratio of work to play that matters, it is rather important that each of our needs are adequately met, whatever that looks like for each of us. We are all different in this respect and as long as we are not anxious, resentful or excessively fatigued by the proportion, we can find a way to feel harmony with the manner in which our life is composed. Likewise in relationships, there will always be compromise, but if both parties work at meeting each other’s needs and both feel at peace with what they are giving and receiving emotionally, physically and spiritually, it is immaterial that the quantity of give and take be exactly equal. I think we would all agree that in enjoying life, quality is more important than quantity and the joy we receive from quality relationships and experiences is immeasurable.
In my own life, part of seeking harmony is in being content with current circumstances without having to actively change them, and change them quickly. Rather, I am working at living within them and choosing to let them impact me, help me grow and consciously making an effort to ensure present circumstances are as positive and joyful as possible for all those involved. As with any self-reflection and self-improvement challenge, this isn’t easy, particularly when we start out in discord with whatever is happening in our lives, but this presents an enormous growth opportunity. I have the chinese characters for harmony tattooed on my forearm, placed there shortly after the aforementioned conversation that started this thought process rolling years ago.
This isn’t to say that many times we must choose to change our circumstances (relationships, jobs, finances, living situation) in order to bring about positive change, but sometimes we simply do not have immediate control or cannot act quickly. If you are looking for continuous growth, movement and peace in your life, then I challenge you to think about harmony, rather than balance, as one of the keys to happiness.