5 Ways to Lead a Balanced Life

It goes without saying that we should all strive to lead balanced lives. But how do we put this into practice? Here’s five suggestions:

1. Remember: Life is Not a Race

In yoga class, I’m often distracted by the women around me. Many of them look impressively slim and composed. I can’t help but wonder why I’m such a sweaty, disheveled mess in comparison. Then I have to remind myself that I’m not competing against anyone as I make my way through life – least of all the gorgeous, lightly perspiring blonde in snug-fitting yoga shorts who happens to be executing a flawless triangle pose beside me. Just as people look different, their lives unfold differently. Some encounter success early on; others are late bloomers. Some people’s achievements are extolled in newspapers and books; others do their good deeds quietly. The truth is, the quiet achievements are no less meaningful.

2. Say Yes to (Almost) Everything

When I moved to Manhattan at the age of 25, I hardly knew a soul, so I connected with friends of friends using one simple rule: If someone I didn’t know but could reasonably assume to be a good person asked me out, I’d say yes. It didn’t matter if I was already in my pajamas and ready to call it a night, I’d change into something snazzier and head out on the subway to meet this friend-of-a-friend, ready to surrender myself to the night’s possibilities. Most of those excursions proved to be misses, not hits. But they were very occasionally balanced out by sublime moments of serendipity. Like the time I said yes to a blind date and ended up in the Security Council chamber at the United Nations – in the midst of a session.

3. Think Positive.

At last year’s Venice Biennale, I saw a sign that made a big impression on me, not because of its awkward syntax but its powerful message: Try to say nothing negative about anybody for three days, forty-five days, or three months. See what happens to your life.

I tried (and failed) to honor that directive (three hours might have been a more reasonable goal), but the sentiment has stayed with me. When the driver in front of me cuts me off or someone writes an email that strikes me as abrupt or discourteous, I try to summon my inner Buddhist and let the aggression welling up inside me pass like a cloud on a windy day. I tell myself: The driver didn’t see me. The e-mail was benign, just hastily written. Assuming that people’s intentions are good (especially when their actions are not) instantly makes me feel better.

4. When in Doubt, Choose People

I recently spent a week in Bangkok. On the day before I flew home (just as the political situation there was coming to a brink), I made a last-minute solo trip to the island of Ko Samet. The secluded beach where I stayed had silky white sand and a café that served cheap, grubby Thai food. The 24 hours I spent there were peaceful and introspective, but they affirmed something I already knew: Our best memories are those we share with people. This became apparent as I waited for the ferry to arrive to whisk me back to the mainland, where I would catch a mini-bus to the airport. Two 30-something Thai men were departing along with me. The chattier one of the two asked me, in stilted English, if I wanted a ride to the airport. I was tired and didn’t want to have to make small talk with two men who barely spoke my language, but I knew it would be an experience. I said yes (see point no. 2). On the way, we stopped at a roadside café, and what I happily recall, besides the delicious food, is how motley a threesome we must have seemed, eating our curry in tiny little cups made out of banana leaves and smiling eagerly at each other in mutual incomprehension.

5. Remember That It Will All Be a Memory

The bad things in life, most of them at least, will fade into the past just as quickly as the good things. Savor all of them. In the end, memories – even the most painful ones – will take on a complexity that they lacked in the present, and will be the building blocks that form a life well lived.

What are your tips for staying balanced?

4 thoughts on “5 Ways to Lead a Balanced Life

  1. sedonaextension5272

    Dear Victoria,
    What a wonderful article! #3 really tickled me. It reminded me of something Louise Hay said. She had decided to stop gossiping and couldn’t find anything to say for three weeks!

    Joy!

    Reply
  2. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    H. Victoria,

    I really loved this little article…..especially number # 5……yes, time is a healer….. LOL!

    …..but remember you have the power to create good or bad memories as you travel along your life path.

    And remember to laugh.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

    Reply

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