Anyone out there living a "balanced life?" I'd love to meet you. As a matter of fact, what does a balanced life actually look like? Does it mean slow, with little going on? Or perhaps it is a life of enviable success on multiple fronts -- spinning plates with ease and flair? I honestly don't know.
For most people, balance is pretty hard to come by these days. Either the job is too much, or there is no job to be found. The kids are overscheduled or underscheduled. Planning a vacation is stressful, and coming back is a nightmare.
I am always living in this illusion that the next season will give me some "balance." During the hectic spring months, I yearn for the slow days of summer with endless stretches of time to reorganize my office, paint that bedroom and just lounge around reading all those fiction novels winking at my bedside.
Inevitably, summer arrives, and somehow the extra time never comes. The office stacks multiply like dandelions, the books plead under even more dust, and I have a tan -- but no balance. The dog days of summer leads to a new line of fantasy; the fall is coming. Then life will settle into a routine and THEN I can balance out my life and feel ahead of the game.
Well, here it is, the first week of fall. The Autumnal Equinox is a day of perfect balance between light and darkness, so this must be the day. Is everyone feeling hunky dory balanced out there yet? I was too busy to notice. In complaining to a friend about this endless whine of mine, she offered a true Buddha moment of wisdom: "Balance is overrated."
Notice that Mother Nature has exactly two days of balance per year -- one during the Autumn Equinox and one during the Spring Equinox. After that, it is change baby change! Each day brings more light or more darkness. The light can be wonderful for external pursuits in the world, and the darkness for inner reflection and growth. Balance is meant to be a fleeting thing.
Mother Nature is no boring sissy. She knows the name of the game is change, and she also knows how to make it fun! The turning of the Autumn leaves has to be one of the most playful ways to make an exit imaginable. The blazes of orange, red and gold that appear overnight astound, delight and are great fun to jump in once they finally fall to the ground. When the first snow comes, children and adults alike feel a playful surge of joy, and run outside to catch snowflakes on their tongue. About 90 days later, with the warm breezes of spring, the blaze of daffodils delight all over again.
Why is it balance gets all the glory, and change is kicked to the curb? Somehow the idea of change being playful, silly or delightful never quite made it through the doorway of the cerebral cortex. When a change feels rigid or overwhelming, we automatically put up a hand to resist. Yet, if a change looks like fun, hmmm, that's another story. I think I'm done with balance and instead am going to embrace the tides of change like a surfer hangin' 10. Change rocks. Bring it on.
Every mother knows that the key to getting kids to change their eating habits is to make the food FUN -- decorate the veggies and down they go. Organizing the office is a lot more fun after getting some cute boxes or containers. Ultimately, surrendering to change as a part of life takes away the guilt that spinning plates is anything less than exactly perfect.
Some friends of mine are making lifestyle changes and losing weight with a fun "Game On" diet that inspires the competitive bulldog, and sets up teams for one month. Everyone chooses a bad habit to let go of -- like leaving clothes on the chair or yelling at the middle child -- as well as adopting a good habit and losing a certain amount of weight per week. The game encourages lots of teasing and taunting -- if you don't make your weekly weight goal, no 'alcohol privileges.' Some teams have resorted to the dirty pool of leaving giant chocolate cakes on the other's doorstep. The fun overrides the hard work; people have a blast, and changes happen.
Imagine being in a busy airport or train station that has an option for a moving sidewalk or escalator, as well as a traditional staircase. What does everyone do? Most herd like sheep to stand in line waiting for the escalator, while the stairs sit free and clear. Check out this very short YouTube video from FunTheory.com. Is is a fantastic example of how easy change can be -- enticing busy travelers to use the stairs with nothing but fun as the lure.
What would the world look like if we adopted the principle that change is vehicle of life, and fun is the fuel? Washington could certainly use a dose of fun these days. So could most office environments, family dinner table conversations and personal goal strategies.
Want to makes changes to go green? Al Gore told us we have to, but we need some fun to really modify our habits. The more fun hybrid cars can be, the more they will sell. Creating art and useful goods out of recycled materials helps us to be motivated to sort the bottles and cans. Here is another example of using fun to encourage people to pick up trash on the street.
How about you, Huff Po readers? How can you have more fun with change? Love to hear your "fun theories" in the comment box below. If you would like weekly updates of this blog, click on become a fan.