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The Art of Living in Balance, Part 2

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Clearly, the art of living in balance is not a simple thing, or else it wouldn't take me two blog posts and 20 tips to share. It's kind of like a buffet or store, where different tastes make for different choices--but the goal is to get what you want and need. So, here are 10 more tips to keep in your pocket.

1. Be nice. Niceness is not overrated. People who are not nice create lots of unnecessary misery for themselves and others. Niceness, on the other hand, creates tons of extra joy. In fact, right now, I am really looking forward to seeing the guys in my usual parking garage in NYC (haven't seen them in a month). Because I've been nice to them, they are nice to me, and we start our days when we see each other with a jolt of joy.

2. Believe in karma. If someone is not nice to you or does something bad, let the universe dole out the punishment. It's not your job, so don't waste time on it. There is a peacefulness that comes from believing that the only actions you are responsible for are your own.

3. Be strong and courageous. Just because you are nice and believe in karma doesn't mean you should let people push you around. Know what you want, believe in yourself, and have the courage to make it happen--or go get it. Don't let fear stop you!

4. Reward yourself in good ways. My favorite ways to reward myself are a monthly massage (Yea! I made it through another month!), pretty jewelry that I can pass on to my daughters one day, and free time to do whatever I want...that's my favorite of all, and also the hardest to come by.

5. Laugh a lot. This cannot be overdone. I can make almost anything seem funny if I think about it enough. I love to laugh, and I get even more joy from making others laugh...I think it comes from the fact that I used humor to diffuse tension in my childhood. But hey, it worked.

6. Stop reading or watching depressing or violent things. Really? Is that really necessary to your life happiness? I'm not talking about news. I'm talking about fiction. Entertainment. Find other ways to get a buzz, but stop getting it from other people's pain and misery.

7. Examine yourself and your past deeply. If you are not happy, get therapy. If you are stumped about something, ask an expert. I just read two books by Alice Miller: The Drama of the Gifted Child and The Body Never Lies. Both books offer amazing insights into why things happen to us and how we should think about them.

8. Try new things. You actually get a hormonal boost whenever you try something new. So take a trip somewhere you've never been--even if it's down a new street. Try a new activity, or take a class in something you've always thought about. Read a book or watch a show that teaches you something new. Try a new food. You may not like it, but you will like the new knowledge it has provided for you.

9. Allow yourself to feel desire. I have to admit, when I read stories about women who don't feel desire, I think...is there something wrong with me? I think sexual desire is the creative life force that is the fuel for almost anything great. And yes, it is all in your head, so think about it. A lot. It's free, it's awesome and it's good for you. Revel in it. If you need a jump-start, read a romance novel. Any religion or person who tries to deny or suppress desire almost invariably ends up in tragedy (I won't list them all here). I believe that the God who created this universe created sexual desire as a very special gift. Use it appropriately.

10. Be grateful. Every night when I go to bed I thank the universe for all my blessings. I ask for guidance, too. But mostly I just feel thankful for my husband, my children, my family, and my home. After all, everything else has just a fraction of importance compared to those things. And maybe that's what people are talking about when they wonder how I do it "all." (I put that in quotes because I certainly have a GIANT list of things I haven't done yet that I want to do). I know what's truly important and what isn't. And for that, too, I am grateful.

That's what the art of living in balance is all about.

For more from Maria Rodale go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.

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