Balancing “The Best We Can”

Photo By Jay SimmonsJames Allen once wrote, “With great achievement comes great sacrifice.”

Unfortunately, many of us in the West have adopted that concept as an accepted way of life, rather than a warning.  We push ourselves to be the best parents we can be, the best professionals or business owners we can be, the best spouses or partners we can be. And we push ourselves to have the best cars, the best houses, the best clothes – all the indicia of “success” we can get our hands on.

Those who relish in criticism of Westerners would accuse us of being materialistic, work-aholics because of greed or arrogance.  I disagree with those critics.  At the same time, however, I’d like to ask you to take some time to truly consider whether you are balancing being the best that you can be.

Of course, there are people out there who are simply power hungry, materialistic, and shallow.  By my estimation, those people are the exception, not the rule.  Most of the people I know who push themselves entirely too hard and fail to properly manage stress levels are good, hard-working people who are trying their best to do the “right thing.”

After all, we are Americans. We live in the land of opportunity.  There are corporate ladders to climb, people to impress, expectations to live up to (our own and those of others); and too many of us have come to believe that, if we do not take advantage of ALL of these opportunities, we will not be respected or valued.  We might become “undesirable” or, worse, “unnecessary.”  That type of thinking (whether it be consciously or within the unconscious realm) is a form of survival thinking that creates stress and puts our minds, bodies, and spirits in distress.

It is confusion and fear that are the real problems here, not arrogance or greed.

Collectively, we have lost sight of the fact that opportunity and obligation are two separate concepts.  We may live in the land of opportunity; but not every opportunity can be or should be pursued, if we want to create balance in our lives and live happily.  Every single human being on this planet deserves to be happy and healthy.  Without balancing our lives in ways that allow us to ease up on the performance pressures we create for ourselves and take time for relaxation, rejuvenation, and spiritual nurturing, we can be niether.

Without true balance, we live at a hurried pace with fear-based undertones (kind of like we’re running from something); and we rarely feel content or satisfied.  Even worse for over 40 million Americans, we fall into the hopeless despair of depression — going through the motions of Life without living at all . . . trying to stay busy so that our lives mean something.

Indeed, being “busy” has become en vogue these days.  Being able to say, “I’m so busy!” means that we are valuable — something or someone needs us.  If we are needed, we are safe.  We must stay safe to survive; so we must stay busy.  But the real questions are “what is it that we are trying to survive?” and “what are we surviving for?”

I often ask myself whether I am “qualified” to give anyone advice  . .  if I have something of value to offer others through my writing.  If the “letters” after one’s name are what create their credentials, I suppose mine would be B.A., J.D., P.T.S.D., F.M.S., C.F.I.D.S.  Under ordinary circumstances, those particular letters might not qualify one to offer insights or wisdom of any kind.  But, in this case, I believe I do have something to offer.

Despite some of those letters and the circumstances that gave rise to most of them, I achieved more before my 40th birthday than many people will achieve in a lifetime.  I also nearly destroyed myself completely in the process and lost almost every advantage those achievements once provided me.  In the final analysis, the sacrifices I made for all those achievements was a toll I simply could not pay.  The most significant cause?   I did not know how to balance trying to be the best I could be.  At that time in my life, I did not know how to balance much of anything because I did not know myself well enough to make the kind of choices necessary to create and maintain balance.

Photo by Sanja Gjenero

By the grace of God, who has given me the strength and wisdom to make the changes I needed to make within myself and in my life, I have been given a second chance at Life and living — a chance for which I am incredibly grateful.  My healing process is still in process, but I have learned much.  And, if sharing what I have discovered helps even one of you, that would be a blessing I’ll carry within my spirit always.

What I would like you to do is spend some time and energy over the next week asking yourself some meaningful questions about yourself, your life, and the way you are living.  These questions will help you determine whether you are balancing the best you can be or driving yourself along a rocky and dangerous cliff that leads to nowhere you want to go.

1.  Have you taken an objective look at your priorities lately?

2.  Have you evaluated your own happiness, your own expectations, and your own desires?

3.  Are you spending time nurturing the relationships that mean the most to you (in healthy ways)?

4.  Are you sleeping enough?

5.  Why are you doing what you do and is it the right thing for your overall well-being?

6.  Do you feel like you have appropriate boundaries that allow you space and freedom to create the balance you need?

7.  Are you spending entirely too much time and energy trying to do your best at one thing and neglecting other important aspects of your life in the process?

8.  When was the last time you did something JUST for fun? for complete relaxation?

9.  Do you feel connected to your higher power?  If not, what would make you feel more connected to the divine presence that surrounds you always?

10. Do you love yourself?  If not, what would it take to convince you that you are as worthy of love as anyone else?

Take some time to ask yourself these valuable questions and contemplate the answers and what they mean to your health, happiness, and overall well-being.

The Dalai Lama has said that, “To foster inner awareness, introspection, & reasoning is more efficient than meditation & prayer.”

I believe that answering these questions will spark the kind of introspection and inner awareness you need to make informed and wise choices about creating balance in your life.  I guarantee you that, if you give balance a chance, the resulting sense of personal empowerment and freedom you create for yourself will overcome any insecurity, confusion, or fear that might have been compelling you to push yourself right over the edge previously.

It is important for all of us to have goals because, without goals, we become stagnant.  But, the best goals we can have are to take good care of ourselves, stay connected with the Divine, and to live happily.  Try doing the best you can to achieve those goals.

You won’t regret it.  I promise.

© 06/07/12

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you, I needed to read this post today!

    Reply
  2. This post is so insightful, thought provoking and right on the mark. I am printing it out right now to share!
    THX

    Reply
  3. Gina's Professions for PEACE

     /  June 7, 2012

    This is a beautiful post! I am delighted that you found one of my blogs so that I could find you easily as well. I am so glad to follow this inspirational blog you’ve created. I look forward to reading all that you have to share. Love and Light ~Gina

    Reply
    • Thank you, Gina! I’ve enjoyed your work as well and am glad for the connection.
      Many blessings,
      Sloan

      Reply
  4. Haley

     /  June 7, 2012

    Clearly, you have insight and thank you for sharing it with your audience.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Haley! Your support and encouragement are very much appreciated.
      Many blessings,
      Sloan

      Reply
  5. My dear friend this is beautiful post !T hank you for share it for us , with love maxima

    Reply
    • Thank you, so much, Stefan! I admire your beautiful poetry, and your kind words mean a lot to me. Namaste, Sloan

      Reply

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