Finding balance

Published on:
October 1, 2020

Don’t you sometimes feel like you’re in the middle of a giant balancing exercise? Finding the right balance between the demands of work and the needs of family, between being casual with risk and over-indexing on it, or between trying to carry on as usual and indulging in WTF exclamations. And like a tightrope walker, we have to strike a balance across multiple axes at once — all while trying to move forward. In fact, tightrope walking seems like an apt metaphor for the times.

That would explain why I see so many slacklines strung between trees in back yards and parks. I tend to ignore the smug people crouched down on their feet or perhaps balanced on a single foot. These feats do not impress me. Instead, my attention is drawn to the beginner who clings nervously to a friend while trying to get on the line. They inevitably fall, sometimes spectacularly. But they always get back up and try again. Eventually, they get it because balance is something that everyone can learn and improve. I’ve heard it helps if you keep your focus on your goal and, whatever you do, don’t look down!

Some additional thoughts for successfully balancing in these times.

I read that the average person’s mind wanders almost half the time, and that was before the arrival of 2020. Time is said to be our most precious resource, which leads people to carve off more time for the important things. It's a zero sum game: to devote more time to something means you take time away from something else. In the modern world where priorities reign, this means third and fourth lose out to first and second. But what if we could find more time? By improving our ability to focus, we can better use the time we have. It turns out that focus (like balance) is a skill we can develop. The key is to cut out distractions. Put your phone on silent mode and out of sight. Close the social media and news tabs. Find a quiet work space. Establish email and IM/DM-free periods. You will be amazed by what you can accomplish with an undistracted mind.

There’s an old saw that laugher is the best medicine; I tell you it’s true. We know that stress and anxiety increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system and generally make us more miserable to be around. Laugher (and mirth in general) counteracts all that nonsense. Intrinsically, we know this. We feel more relaxed and at ease. We’re more forgiving with the world and ourselves. How many times have you been in an uncomfortable situation and someone diffuses it with a well-timed joke or wise-crack? There’s even science behind this. Laughter increases the production of nitric oxide (possible Jeopardy fact), which relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels. Now more than ever, we need to find and maintain our sense of humor. And share it. It’s well-established that the power of laughter grows exponentially with the number of people sharing in the laugh.

If you have any thoughts you'd like to share, please pass them on by replying to this email. Here are more tips on making the most of your time at home.

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