The Elusive Balance Equation: Strive for Harmony Instead

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Pick up any publication, magazine, book or even podcast, and they’ll have titles like these: “Get the Balance Right”, “Striking a Balance Between Work and Home”, and “Life Is Not Work, Work Is Not Life: Simple Reminders for Finding Balance in a 24/7 World.” Meeting the expectations that these titles imply set up a belief that achieving balance is an equation — a formula to follow just like 1 + 2 = 3. But everyday life exposes flaws in such theories. The sooner you can accept that no formulas, no “quick fixes,” exist, the sooner you can do away with the bondage of guilt and shame that comes from living an imperfect life.

Yet, there’s still a need to come up with new insights . . . to generate hope for living a happier existence . . . to strive for that elusive “balance.” Why? Because people are in pain! They’re trying to do more with less. They’re feeling guilty because they can’t accomplish the impossible. They agonize, asking themselves, “Am I destined to go from experience to experience with no sense of ever being settled or at peace? Am I doing this all wrong?”

I believe it’s impossible to achieve a 50/50 balance (except perhaps in the realm of science). Circumstances, opportunities, and challenges are seldom ever equally balanced. Working too much or taking care of too many, for example, can cause a 70/30 or 60/40 split — which better represents what really goes on.

Instead of seeking this mysterious state called balance, I advocate striving for harmony.

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What is Harmony?

Harmony is a pleasing effect produced by an arrangement of things, parts, or colors. Achieving harmony stems from putting parts of your life in proper perspective with each other. Feeling “in harmony” helps you deal with what’s somewhat predictable. And it gives you energy to deal with life’s multitude of unpredictable events.

Is harmony something tangible? No. It’s a feeling of things lining up “just right.” But without a measure of it at least, your life can be a battle between quantity versus quality — with “quantity” taking the dominant role.

I believe quality, not quantity, should be the standard by which harmony is measured.

Think of your monthly calendar that’s jammed full of commitments — a blatant demonstration of “quantity.” Are you living to check things off that never-ending “to do” list? You won’t see harmony emerge from a mind-set like this! Are you living a life jammed with activities? What happens to the quality of those activities — and the quality of your existence overall?

For most of your days to be “in harmony,” you will need to make compromises. But how do you make that happen?

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Practicing “Present Time”

To make choices that can result in harmony, I suggest practicing “present time” — a tool that helps you align various aspects of your life. Indeed, not being present in the moment lends itself to feeling “out of whack” or “off the wall,” thinking more about what happened or what’s next on your list rather than what you’re doing now.

Pay attention and you’ll discover that living “in the moment” forces you to be aware of your surroundings. In this frame of mind, you can fully focus on the tasks or relationships at hand. You can confront whatever truth you’re facing — or don’t want to face. This state offers you opportunities to make choices that affect the moments that follow. When you take on those opportunities, you gain strength and awareness — both in the act of making choices and in understanding their consequences.

Give yourself permission to spend time figuring out who you are, what you value, where your boundaries are, and how to live harmoniously? You can start by understanding key elements of your being. As you spend time “in the moment,” seek to discover your own clear relationship to your identity, your truth, and your integrity.

Let’s look at these elements more closely.

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Defining Your Identity

Identity is defined as the set of characteristics people recognize as belonging uniquely to themselves, constituting their individual personalities. Identity answers the question “Who am I?” When you don’t know the answer to that, you can be pulled in any direction; you’re a nobody, a shell. Being in harmony requires defining who you are at your core — not your job, your name, your family, your religion. You’re able to answer the question “Who am I at the base of my soul?”

Defining Your Truth

Truth is defined as honesty, sincerity, or integrity. What you stand for is your truth. When everything seems to fall apart, it’s what you tell yourself that keeps you on course. Ask, “When I’m backed into a corner, what keeps me swinging?” That is your truth. “What are core values that I cannot be swayed from?” That is your truth.

You may go to bed believing you have all the answers, only to wake up having to confront the unthinkable (whatever that is for you). You will be tested, guaranteed. What will you do? Find a way to hold on to what’s real for you. And keep moving toward your truth.

Defining Your Integrity

Integrity is defined as the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards. Yes, you can do well and live with integrity, knowing exactly where your boundaries are. Others learn what line not to cross with you as well as the consequences of doing so. And you learn what line not to cross with others. The rules are laid out; everybody’s life becomes easier. Why? Because you no longer have to wonder which rules are in place. They’re clear and upfront, allowing you to be clear and upfront, too.

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Figure out your deepest definitions of identity, truth, and integrity, and you’ll better understand what harmony means to you. You will also begin to understand how your choices and consequences contribute or take away from it. Your answers will keep you going when unknown circumstances seem dark and scary, when you can’t seem to move forward.

Once you feel clear about your answers, take time to come up with your own version of a balance equation. Perhaps it’s 33% of your time working, 26% with family and friends, 17% pursuing hobbies, and 24% taking care of your physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Be patient, knowing it will take several sessions of “present-time” thinking, acting, and evaluating to begin to determine the percentages that work best for you.

Putting harmony first brings intangible rewards that make life worth living — enjoying peace of mind and a fullness of living beyond your greatest expectations.



Kim Crayton ~ Antiracist Economist ~ She/Her ✊🏾💜

Forging a path to welcoming & psychological safety, in systems, institutions & policies, at scale | Becoming the change I wish to see… |