I asked a group of coworkers what they thought I should write about this week, and they suggested I discuss achieving and maintaining a balanced life. I thought it was a great idea, so I went online and googled the definition of balance.
By the time I typed the "e" on balance a list of items popped up: balanced art, balanced budget, balanced equation, balance force, balance graphic design and so on. I then got more specific on my search and researched components of a healthy & balanced life. There were several sites with great components — one in particular was enlightening.
The Ten Components of a health and balanced life, according to this website were: have a vision; be clear on life's purposes; engage in passionate activities; utilize unique strengths; honor values; question beliefs; focus on positive thinking; habituate self-awareness; set and enforce boundaries; and manage time effectively. There was great wisdom with these 10 components.
However, there was another site I found more interesting, as it was created by a man who has Type II diabetes and spoke out of life experiences. Since the YMCA's Kidz with Diabetes camp, Camp KWD, starts Monday, I decided this was the article I would focus on. Finding a well-balanced life for individuals with diabetes can be tricky, but it is definitely possible. This author suggested the following components of living a well-balanced life. His viewpoint is one of an individual with a life-changing medical condition. But, I'm sure you'll find that these components apply to everyone.
One component is family and home life (how we relate to our family). Do we get along, argue, play, laugh, cry, share experiences, encourage, motivate, wish the best for each other, help make each other better individuals through our words and actions? Balance in family life doesn't mean everything is always perfect. It means that, as a whole, family members respect, love and make time for one another. Do we exercise together, watch movies, clean up the garage, play cards, have daddy daughter date night or even set aside time to make a date with our spouse? If we never spend time with family, how can we expect relationships to change for the better?
Financial and career (work satisfaction) is another component of a well-balanced life. We go to school and acquire knowledge, while having life experiences that teach us how to be in a working environment. When I played basketball in college, each player had her own unique set of skills and purpose while on the floor. Not everyone was the same, and therefore not everyone responded in the same way to constructive criticism. People came to practice with different attitudes and mental preparedness to play. However, we learned to play as a team and to encourage each other to be better.
Work allows you to take what you have been called to do, that which comes easier to you, and make a living off of it. Although the job may not pay what you think you are worth at times, it's important to remember that you posses a very valuable asset if you like your work and enjoy the people you work with.
Expanding your mind is a third component of a well-balanced life. Learning is a lifelong process that should never stop. We should participate in new experiences, take part in continuing education for our job, read about things that interest us, and find a mentor with a specific skill or trade we find fascinating. When we stop challenging our mind, we shut down. The brain doesn't function as clear and we fall into ruts and lose desire to experience life. This can happen especially after one retires.
Physical body and health (maintaining your health) is a well-discussed topic at fitness facilities, hospitals and other medical businesses. The right amount of exercise, eating healthy and in the right proportion, getting enough sleep, drinking only in moderation, not smoking or doing drugs, having regular dental & health screenings, and practicing safety in all areas of our lives can put us on the road to a healthy body.
The spiritual and ethical component of a well-balanced life is often overlooked in today's society. We may work hard to maintain physical health, but if we lack a solid spiritual belief system, we may find if difficult to cope when faced with life's challenges. In addition, our spiritual beliefs often provide us with an ethical compass to make important decisions in life.
There's a social and cultural component of life that can either enrich our lives or make us stagnate. Meeting others at church, a museum, a concert, for a run, a movie, at a class with individuals with similar interests or medical concerns, can help us emotionally and physically. However, if the social and cultural interactions are negative or do not allow is to continue to grow in a positive way, it may not have the positive impact it could have.
My husband was in the Navy, so we've moved around quite a bit over the past 22 years. We've lived in Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and now Georgia. Each community has offered us a unique cultural experience and social opportunities. It's up to us to determine how we will continue to grow by involving ourselves in the different community events and social opportunities to maintain a well-balanced life.
As you can see, there are many components of living a well-balanced life. Life is experienced throughout the years, but only one moment at a time. What step will you take this moment to having a more well-balanced life?
Mary Ganzel works at the Albany Area YMCA as senior program director. She has a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Kentucky and has worked in the fitness industry for more than 25 years. She’s been certified through multiple national organizations over the years as a personal trainer, exercise test technologist, health promotion director, group exercise instructor, Cycle Reebok instructor and Pilates instructor through Cooper Institute, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, Aerobic Fitness Association of America and the Young Mens Christian Association.