Anything that a human being can do, they can over-do, or under-do. Balance is the key to successful living.
In martial arts classes, balance is a regular topic; not only the physical kind, but the balance in our lives. Human beings must constantly balance everything in their lives. They must neither eat too little or too much, they must neither sleep too little or too much. They require stimulation to keep from being bored, but too much will leave them stressed and neurotic.
They must balance work, family, kids, holidays, and special events. They must balance their “mental” life with their physical one. They must get enough exercise, but not get too sedentary. You can start to see that life is really a complex juggling act of multiple factors in order to have a healthy mind-body-soul.
Why, then do I hear from my students that they can’t make it to class, because they are trying to fit it in with Little League, yoga class, gymnastics, putting new tires on the car, and waiting for the furnace guy to come over to their house? Somewhere along the line, our society has taught us to be active and doing something every waking moment of our lives. We look at all the exciting things our friends are doing on social media and think we aren’t doing enough with our own lives. Down time seems like a wasted opportunity. And then we can’t understand why our lives are stressed, we feel out of control, and unhappy.
Like many things in life, we take simple ideas and make them ridiculously complex. Balance is a simple idea; periods of intense activity should be balanced by equal periods of inactivity. When was the last time you sat down and did nothing? Not TV, not reading, not looking at your phone, but really nothing? If your answer is “never”, it’s time to re-examine what you are doing. It will be hard to give up some of those activities that seem important to you, but giving yourself more down-time will let you enjoy those things that you continue to do. Give up the idea that “you can do it all”; stick with the things that are meaningful to your life. What do you REALLY want to be? A good parent? A good spouse? A good business owner? A traveler? A fitness instructor? At any one time, you can really only be good at a few things in life. The law of balance dictates that the more things you try to do at once, the less likely you will do any of them well.
Try doing nothing for a change. It’s harder than you think. But it might bring a new sense of balance to your life.
Todd Alan Roberts M.D. is a physician and the chief instructor of Aikido of Nebraska, a martial arts school specializing in mind/body/spirit development in kids and adults, through the teaching of traditional martial arts.