Finding happiness in balance
Do you ever feel totally overwhelmed one week and then find yourself wondering what to do with yourself the next?
Usually, I feel more of the overwhelmed than the latter, but that’s also because I do it to myself, which is typically the problem.
Being busy can be a good thing, but having time for yourself is a good thing too. Making money is definitely good, while lying in the grass reading a book or looking at the sky is also good for the soul.
What we’re dealing with is that age old saying: too much of any one thing isn’t good. Or some variation of that. And it’s very true.
I started my own photography business when I was 22 years old. I did it part-time while always holding a different full-time job. On my days off from my full-time gig, I would do the photography. But, I didn’t depend on that secondary income, so I also gave myself a break often.
This past October, I started to do photography full time, and you know what? Besides a vacation out of the country in December, I haven’t given myself one day off. Not. One.
Between writing for Eagle News, taking classes, owning my business, babysitting and being a consultant for a direct sales company, I realized I literally have zero time for myself.
Who does that?
It hasn’t been intentional. Not at all. It’s a labor of love. I genuinely love all of the things I do, which is why I continue doing them – they all enrich me in some way that the other doesn’t. They all make me feel happy and fulfilled.
But, I’m only one person. I’m one person who also happens to live with a chronic autoimmune disease. I have Crohn’s disease, which takes a toll on my body, my energy and my health.
On top of all the things I’ve signed myself up for, I really need to focus on taking care of myself. I need to cook healthy food, plan my meals, take time to strengthen my body and remember that I’m not invincible.
If I’m not healthy, how can I expect to do any of the things I’ve signed myself up for? Let alone do them well? I don’t like to do things if I’m not going to do them well.
Though you may not be struggling with a debilitating physical disease, you could be struggling with an equally frustrating mental challenge, or simply with a heavy school workload, or too much work and school combined – the possibilities are endless.
We humans are very good at pushing ourselves further and further down the priority list. Usually, it’s unintentional. But almost always, it’s detrimental.
As we do more things and take on more responsibilities in the hopes of furthering ourselves, sometimes we break ourselves down so much that we make the success we seek more difficult to achieve.
Often, we trudge through the work or school week just to make it to the weekend when we can drink and party and forget about our “real life” troubles.
I know this isn’t everybody’s story, but it is a pretty common one.
What if we could find the balance to make sure all of the responsibilities in our lives get taken care of without totally stressing ourselves out?
It would be pretty awesome.
Now, unfortunately, I’m not here with the answer of how to do that, which I’m sure is no surprise. But I do have suggestions.
Here they are:
Prioritize. Write down every responsibility you have and rank them in order of how important they are to you. Next, make a sample schedule of what a week looks like for you, and write down when you will do each thing. I mean down to when you eat, cook, go to the gym, do your Biology homework and – ready for it? – have time for yourself. I have been doing this for a couple of months, and it has made such a positive difference. It still changes sometimes. At first, it changed almost weekly. But I’ve found that it’s okay.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice.
Be patient with yourself. I have never considered myself to be a patient person. It’s something I’ve consciously been working on for a couple of years now though, and it has worked wonders. When your schedule changes for the seventh time, smile that you’re making forward progress and learning what works for you. Do not throw in the towel and get frustrated. Not only with your schedule, but with any goal you set for yourself – from homework to push-ups, celebrate your progress. Don’t focus on what you didn’t get to accomplish. Notice I didn’t say failures. Remove that negative vocabulary from your mindset.
I could go on for a while with this, but I’ll leave you with just one more.
Be positive. It sounds so cliché, doesn’t it? I swear it isn’t, though. There are many ways to do this, but you should find the one(s) that resonate with you. What do you enjoy doing? I realized I had stopped reading for fun years ago. I had no idea why, but I realized I missed it. So, I chose to download the Kindle app to my phone and now I read a lot more instead of just aimlessly scrolling through my news feed. It feels great.
I also do positive affirmations as often as possible. What is a positive affirmation? It’s a thing that you write to make yourself believe. “I am healthy. I am strong. I am a good student.” You can write them down – I do it in list form – or, you can say it out loud in your mirror, in the car, or you can do them all. It feels a little weird at first, but after just a little while, you really start to believe in yourself. It makes you feel more sure of what you’re doing and why.
The bottom line is that we only get to do this life thing once, so while there’s no one “right” way of doing it, I’ve found it’s much more enjoyable when we’re happy.
And I’ve found that finding balance is just the first step towards happiness.
Why not give it a try?