O’Sensei the founder of the martial art of aikido was once asked by one of his students, “how do you keep your balance all of the time.” The master laughed and said: “The art is not in trying to keep your balance, but in losing it and seeing how fast you can regain it.”
I started reading this book Living Balance recently and it’s all about learning how to thrive and live in flow with life’s complexities. This particular quote really stuck with me because it made me realize that I wasn’t living in balance and was moving further and further away from regaining it. I love McDonalds, but the low point was crying at a bar and ordering two large french fries, a six piece chicken nugget, and a large coke and falling asleep on my couch with one chicken nugget in hand. Sometimes life knocks you off balance, despite your best efforts. No one is perfect. The work isn’t in trying to avoid the fall, but in your willingness to get off the ground. Here are five things the universe has taught me about balance.
Focus on the Eggs Not the Basket
I have a tendency to put all of my eggs in one basket. It’s both a blessing and curse of my optimism. When I like something, I like it a lot. When I want something, I want it a lot. And when I have a goal, I charge forward without pause. The thing about putting all of your proverbial eggs in one basket is if the basket breaks, you not only have to find a new basket, you have to start over with the eggs too. So always have a few baskets and more eggs than can fill those baskets. Please note: the basket is something external to you but you, fine person, are the glorious eggs, not vice versa. When you start caring more about the baskets than the eggs themselves, you’re gonna get scrambled (haha sorry, I had to). So focus on the qualities, ideas, things you love now and keep building a store of these things. Filling baskets means nothing if you only have a few eggs to fill them with.
Look At Your Emotions Objectively
When I feel like crap, I have to try to look at my emotions objectively. Literally. Next time you feel hurt, or sad, or frustrated take pause and figure out where in your body you feel this emotion. Does it feel like a weird brick sitting on your chest? Does your stomach feel like it’s doing belly flops? Do you get a weird prickly feeling on the back of your neck? When your mind has to focus on where in your body you’re feeling this emotion, the intensity of your emotion will often diminish. It’s like a big middle finger to your emotion because your mind will say “ahhh does not compute…does not compute…” and for a few seconds you’ll feel a little relief. Next time you’re feeling down, play a little game with your own head. It’s like inception. 🙂
Let Go. There’s Beauty in the Breakdown (great song btw)
This passage from “Wherever You Go There You Are” said it best, I’ll let it speak for itself.
“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything–whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking. It’s akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding on to…see for yourself whether letting go when a part of you really wants to hold on doesn’t bring a deeper satisfaction than clinging.”
Be In Direct Contact With Your Life
I rarely catch myself living in the past, but often catch myself living in the future. Neither is good. And neither will give you as much joy as living in direct and present contact with your life. The best times I’ve had over the past couple weeks were over my birthday weekend. I’m glad my friends still love me after my ridiculously loud and drunken speeches of gratitude for having them in my life, but I do remember in that moment meaning and feeling every word. I wasn’t thinking about the future or worried about the past. Clearly (many jello shots later) I was simply loving my friends and my life in that moment. Similarly at dinner with my family, I wasn’t thinking “oh man, I’m gonna miss them when we all finish dinner and go home” I was enjoying the conversation and ridiculousness that is my family. When you find yourself focusing on the future or the past, gently bring yourself back to the present. At this moment I smell food cooking in my kitchen and the smell alone reminds me that I am so blessed to be able to smell! I mean really. Who doesn’t like the smell of cooking food? It’s often as enjoyable as the act of eating.
Bring Your Sexy Back
When you fall, have the confidence to stand up and brush it off like a boss. I’m reminded of Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock looks like a star after her big makeover then falls over. Without missing a beat, she gets back up and proclaims “I’m fine.” Falling isn’t a big deal if you can stand up in heels.