What is it that you need most to obtain peace within your life? For millennia, humans have tried to answer this question for our own wellbeing and sanity. It has plagued us all at one time or another. You feel uncomfortable, you’re uneasy in many situations, work is grinding you down, or your relationships are faltering. You don’t sleep well and you know things need to change, but you don’t know how to take the steps to do it. Maybe some of my tricks will help you get headed the right direction again.
While I can’t say that the methods I am going to share are foolproof, they have worked for me in the past. I have always fought to have balance in my life, and it is a struggle for me. I like to work, I want to be busy, but I have to balance everything in my life to be at optimal performance and also in some sort of mental equilibrium. Here is the checklist I use to see where things are misaligned and so I have a starting point for righting the ship:
1. Exercise – I ALWAYS start with this one lately, as it has been the easiest thing to sacrifice out of my daily routine to make time or because I am tired or unmotivated. Despite being an athlete all of my adult life, I still struggle to get my ass out of bed and get to the gym. My wife is VERY good about this, and I find myself needed to coat tailing on her discipline at times. When my results in my racquetball career directly tied to my fitness levels, it was much easier. Now, I am a guy with a day job, and fitness is a focus for different reasons at this point in my life. But I know when I slack in this area, my life overall suffers. I need to keep a high level of fitness for several reasons:
Working out keeps me healthy and strong.
I sleep much better when I am physically active
Taking the dog for a run in the park
Things I enjoy like going for a hike with my wife is more enjoyable when I am not suffering during the hike itself. When I am fit, it is a challenge, but a manageable one.
I pride myself on leading by example. I struggle taking advice from someone who clearly doesn’t have the personal discipline to take care of themselves, so I don’t want to be that guy. In my opinion, personal discipline is one of the key factors to success, and fitness is an easy indicator of that.
2. Diet – Following closely behind my exercise levels is my diet. I ebb and flow with this as well. Reducing my sugar intake is something I have focused on lately, as I know it disrupts my sleep if I consume a bunch at night, and my energy levels wane throughout the day if I don’t eat right. I do intermittent fasting, and eating in a more narrow window of time means I have less room for error. Sure, I schedule cheat days to scratch the itch, but they usually once a week at most. I don’t necessarily want to go completely off sugar completely, as I am not sure how realistic that is. But at least if I am aware of it and actively try to reduce my intake of sugar, I am better for it.
This will of course make my workouts easier, and I’ll recover more quickly as well. This starts the positive cycle in motion, and before long these are self-reinforcing habits.
3. Social interaction – I am a HIGHLY social person, I absolutely must have social connection and stimulation on the daily or I pay the price for it. I had one two week period during the COVID19 pandemic where I broke from my pattern and got out of the habit of calling friends to talk. Despite doing sales as my job and talking to people a lot throughout the day, it is not the same. I treated it like it was the same during those two weeks (unknowingly) and it became clear it was not. I felt depressed and isolated fairly quickly, despite nothing in my circumstances changing other than my lack of outreach. My friends nourish my soul, and I can’t allow my life to get in the way of replenishing this regularly.
4. Learning/Growing – I am always on a quest for knowledge and self improvement. I read, listen to podcasts, have deep conversations with many people, all in effort to learn more about the world and in some cases myself. Even when I was in school, I would read things outside of the curriculum for my own knowledge. I firmly believe if you are not growing, you are at the very least stagnating, and in some cases, dying. The universe is not big on “status quo”, so you probably don’t hold your position by treading water for long. You are either gaining ground, or you are losing it. Feed my mind and your soul…
I left Love off of this list for a reason; as this may not be within your control. Not everyone is in a stable relationship, or has good family interaction and support. I am fortunate to have these things, but I can’t say they are within my control. Yes, I need to continue to be a good partner to have my wife’s love, but that is just my side of it. Things could change on her side, for whatever reason, and now that love goes away. So for the practicality of my list of Four Key Things for a Balanced Life, I stuck with things that you have control over. You can choose to get off the couch and exercise, eat well, connect with close friends, and continue your own education throughout life.
Control what is controllable and let the rest go….
A word of caution: Despite be aware of these four things, I still have to FOCUS on making them happen. I am good about these things…. when I pay attention to them. They self-reinforce each other to some degree, so as long as I keep an eye on each, I am leading a far more balanced life. When I don’t, I pay the price both physically and emotionally, and likely spiritually as well. Stay vigilant my friends.
I wish you luck in your endeavors