Monday, January 27, 2014

Balancing Act

First, I would like to congratulate my friend Betsy Schow in receiving a publishing contract for her book Spelled with Sourcebooks. When it comes to print, expect a review here. Now, back to the post.

I recently had a conversation with fellow Mormon Geeker Joe about stability. It got me thinking about my life and how sometimes I feel like stability is just a pipe dream. Mix that with a recent post by a friend of mine that made me think about what I do to balance when I'm feeling negative about myself in my life.

So, this may come as a shock to you, but somehow, I'm an adult. I mean, it doesn't seem that long ago that I was playing Donkey Kong 64 non-stop using the "cheater's guide" to get through every single level because I must have not believed in my ability to figure things out. I used to think that I would never grow up and would end up playing video games in my parents' house. But mostly, that's because all I wanted to do was play.

My wife has a magnet from before we got married, which says, "Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional." Ah, I used to live by this concept. But no matter how much Star Trek: The Next Generation I watched, repeatedly, I was never satisfied with my life. Back then, about 13 years ago, I had no idea what.

It took me a while to figure out what was missing. And by "while", I mean years. See, I served a mission and got married and had children. But all I wanted to do was go back to this teenage time where I was so very lazy. Yeah, I'm still lazy, but I figured out what was missing: balance.

Balance is one of those things that actually leads to happiness. So balance between what? Is this a two-sided scale? No. This is a scale with multiple sides. Or perhaps it's multiple scales with pieces of rice and sometimes a wind blows some of the rice of.

This concept isn't a % of time, idea. For some of us, we work 8-hour days. It's gonna have more time than the others. But making sure we're taking time to take care of our other needs, we are more likely to be on stable footing. Here are my ideas of what we need to balance our lives.

First, we need work. We need something that gives us an opportunity to contribute to society. Yeah, not everyone's job is satisfying. Unfortunately, life is unfair that way. When we do accomplish something good, even at a job we're less than thrilled with, it's an awesome feeling. But you know what they say, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

Second, we need relax time. Yes, we need that time to put our feet up and watch a movie. Or binge on a TV show. Maybe it's playing a video game for a few hours or a board/card game. Maybe it's hanging with friends. Perhaps it's reading that book we've been eyeing in the store. Whatever it is, we need that time where we can just take a breath and not worry about life.

Third, we need social interaction. Now this can be accomplished in both of the first two steps. However, please don't confuse "polite chit chat" with "meaningful friendship". I know far too many people who have built "lives" in online gaming or something similar. In the end, it is not their real life. It's like those people in Inception who go to the one guy to "wake up".

Fourth, we need spiritual time. This can be scripture study. Perhaps it's prayer. For some, it's meditation. Whatever it is, if it's boosting your spirit/soul, I recommend it.

Fifth, we need to learn. Anyone who looks at learning as being in a classroom with a pen to a notepaper doodling, get a clue here. There's more to learning than formal education. Perhaps it's reading a non-fiction book. Perhaps it's checking out a website about a particular topic. Wikipedia is a great way to begin research (but never let it end there) if you're serious about the topic.

Sixth, we need hobby time. Yes, this can be accomplished in the second or third (or even fourth or fifth) ideas. Honestly, though, we need something that keeps our interest and takes our mind away from the first, but is active, unlike the ideals in the second. But be careful, if a "hobby" becomes a "life's work", it loses the "hobby" stance and becomes such a chore that it isn't worth doing.

I'm sure there are more than these six to help us be balanced. My current routine is trying to strive to maintain these six ideals. Sometimes, they overlap. Others, they are completely independent of one another. So, I suggest taking a few moments and try to see how these ideas are incorporated. If you have any other ideas, go ahead and comment.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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