People talk about the importance of finding balance in their complicated and unpredictable lives, but some argue that balance is, in fact, overrated – and that in order to achieve happiness, it’s better to shake things up a bit.
“Balance is bogus,” suggests James Ray, President and CEO of James Ray International, a corporation dedicated to teaching individuals to create wealth in all areas of their lives. “Look at a scale in perfect balance: nothing is happening… it’s stagnant… there’s no movement… there’s no progress… in fact, there’s no life at all.”
Harmony is where it’s at. Only when all areas of one’s life are in accord can true wealth be obtained, adds Ray. Trying to achieve balance is unrealistic and sets you up for failure, adds Alicia M. Rodriguez, a Leadership Coach and the founder of Sophia Associates. “This is because balance is a duality that creates an either-or dynamic.”
For example, you can go to work and forge a career, or you can become a stay-at-home-parent. The myth of balance imposes unrealistic expectations. You are limited by whether you are in balance (good) or out of balance (bad). Harmony, on the other hand, suggests that life can be more like a jazz band, a combination of sounds from voices or musical instruments. Ray maintains that it it’s a diverse synergetic experience that allows flexibility, expansion and contraction.
Think of Mother Earth – harmony is created, even out of chaos. Nature’s harmony takes into account the “whole” system, not merely one or two aspects. Harmony allows for more choice, and empowers us with a greater capacity to make our way elegantly through life’s challenges.
Check in with yourself
Harmony is impossible if you are living a life full of regrets, or if you are a workaholic who lacks love and intimacy. You need to nurture your own life along with that of your friends and family. As Dr. Janet Maccaro, an expert in women’s health and nutrition reminds us, your biography becomes your biology.
Once you step away from your life a bit, you can begin to consider how the many aspects of your life are interrelated, and you can adjust fluidly to its challenges. Adapt without guilt or judgment. Harmony will enable you to feel that you have more choices available to you, and that no one area of your life needs to absorb the full impact of whatever life throws at you.
“Stop, look, and listen to your inner voice,” says Maccaro. “Understand that life is a journey of self discovery that can only be experienced when you take the time to rise and meet the challenge of finding out what makes you tick, and what has been making you sick.”
Think of life’s key areas: Financial, relational, mental (intellect and emotions), physical and spiritual. These pillars will never be equally strong all the time (read: balanced). And that’s a great thing. If they were, life would be unchanging and incredibly boring.
To create what Ray calls “harmonic wealth,” start by realizing that “all five areas must have some attention all the time – not that all areas demand all your attention all the time.”
To do this, ask probing questions to get a sense of where you stand, and where chaos may be brewing. Recognize where surpluses and deficits exist, and then shift your energy as needed. Forget the notion of not being good enough. Being a complete human being requires unpredictability. That’s what makes us grow. “It’s like playing jazz, which has less to do with creating planned melodies, and more with improvising interesting nuances,” says Ray. “Variation makes a composition exciting, and the same is true with life.”
If we consistently think in terms of maintaining harmony, instead of balance, we can also put in place additional reserves of energy, time, money or resources for those times when we are met with the unexpected. When the crisis or event is over, we can then adjust back as needed – but we have not burdened ourselves with whether it was good or bad… it just was.
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