|Above images all from Pinterest|
One struck me today. "Live a balanced life." You see this one in conjunction with motivational memes or those video ads for the latest free online self-improvement workshop.
What is "a balanced life"?
I have joined online fitness groups that motivate you to exercise more and watch what you eat. Set goals for weight loss! Define those goals clearly and break them down week by week, day by day! Read these articles about how you should be eating, what you should be eating, when you should be eating!
I still participate in groups like that, because it is helpful accountability for me, but I take everything with a grain of salt. One study says eat a big breakfast is key to losing weight. One study shows that intermittent fasting is effective. It's all very personal - what works for one doesn't work for another.
A few years ago - before we moved overseas - it dawned on me that this focus on food and fitness should be ... how can I put it ... just one piece of my overall health. I know, basic, right?
But I realized I was neglecting my spiritual and psychological side. All those things that actually bring happiness to life. The joy of a tasty snack (peanut butter on graham crackers felt like a healthy option) turned into guilt over abusing my body. (When you eat a whole sleeve of crackers with your peanut butter, it's not as healthy.)
Other, non-"health" related things I enjoyed were a minimal part of my life. The things that didn't bring guilt. I usually was reading a book, making slow progress when I had time, but I hadn't sought out a new author or genre in ages. I wasn't attending church as regularly as I had in the past, although I still read my Bible.
For me, I found that taking time to meditate every day, and ensuring that I spent some time doing fun things - reading, cross-stitch, coloring, baking - helped me feel better about myself and about life.
To me, that is "balanced". I hope I will never be able to be pigeon-holed as "XYZ" type. I hope my interests and activities will vary sufficiently to keep challenging my perceptions. No one will ever fully know what's in my heart and on my mind, but if I am tending to those parts of me as well as to my physical body, I think I am achieving balance.
That's just what works for me. How do you understand "a balanced life"? What am I missing?