We all want balance… but what is it, really? The word balance is commonly used, yet it sometimes gets a bad rep in the habit-formation and self-help arenas. “There’s no such thing as work/life balance” people will say. They’ll interchange other terms such as integration, equilibrium, or moderation.
I still like the word balance, with a huge qualifier: balance is defined by the individual. And to achieve true balance, you must know yourself.
My husband’s been doing a dietary experiment for the past couple months – eating a mostly carnivorous diet. This is a huge departure from the way he used to eat (friends reading may recall his ginormous bowls of broccoli). He’s a constant experimenter and optimizer, and he’s found some great benefit in the recent change. Yet at times, people look at him sideways in disbelief.
“Discipline Equals Freedom” vs. “Everything In Moderation”
My husband and I are vastly different human beings. He happens to be more of an abstainer, whose motto is that of Jocko Willink: “discipline equals freedom“. For an abstainer, self-imposed rules streamline decision making, leading to increased overall happiness. For example, he only checks his email once a day, at a specific time of day.
I, on the other hand, am more of a moderator. I’ve challenged myself before with temporary restrictions on food, social media, and the like… but rules in general stress me out and I tend to return to the “everything in moderation” mentality. Abstainer vs. moderator is another question to ask when you’re trying to know yourself better.
Do you seek comfort in bright line rules (him), or do they leave you with a major case of FOMO (me)? Are you the type of person who can open your favorite bar of chocolate or bag of chips and not eat the whole thing (me), or will that open container consume your mind until it’s gone (him)?
Balance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
One person’s balance is not another’s. Maybe having rules that you adhere to in your life, such as “I don’t eat anything containing sugar” or “I go to bed at 9 pm” ARE balance. Any way we use our habits to practice balance, there are going to be positives and negatives. If you’re an abstainer, you may miss out on some social activities with others because of some rigidities in your schedule. If you’re a moderator, you may find yourself going off the rails at times and not meet your own expectations. Those friends of yours who like to celebrate might lure you into a fancy night out that completely blows your budget.
The pushers and the naysayers mean well; they’re just projecting their thought framework onto others. We should all remember that post-script on the classic statement, “Everything in moderation”… including moderation. Not everyone is a moderator, and that’s ok.
Are you an abstainer or a moderator? How has this affected your relationships? Share your story in the comments below!