I’ve said it before – far more times than I care to remember – maintaining equilibrium in our lives is key to a healthy outlook and lifestyle. I believe the same is true whether we apply the thinking to the things we eat, our work and leisure activities, our spiritual and secular journeys, and how we divide up our time between the multitude of activities and demands placed upon us on a daily basis.
Business gurus and lifestyle consultants make their living – and, often their fortunes – from handing out pearls of wisdom, such as scheduling downtime in our diaries, taking proper lunch breaks, indulging in a little of what we fancy occasionally, and getting plenty of sleep, (you’re welcome! Please buy my new book, out soon from Amazon and all good booksellers, “Breakfast, Breaks and Bed: The Bluffer’s Guide to Balance”).
Achieving a healthy balance isn’t rocket science, (unless of course you are a rocket scientist designing spaceships that won’t topple over). It’s mostly common sense and simple, straightforward principles that most of us already know and have every intention of following, but somehow fail to manage. Inevitably, for many of us, there will be areas in our life where we will either struggle to retain control, or where we are not the ones calling the shots… This can easily tip the balance too far, even to the point of no return, and it’s something that we accept and grudgingly put up with. Whether it’s the ever-expanding waistline, the constant tiredness, the inability to turn off our mobile, or the incessant arguments, we accept that this is an inevitable part of life and simply put up with it.
Even those things over which we should have some element of autonomy – eating, drinking, sleep, exercise, use of leisure time – can elude our control especially if, like myself, you happen to possess a somewhat addictive personality. Under these circumstances, even harmless and innocuous pursuits can have an alarming propensity to upset the equilibrium of our lives.
SL, along with a great many other recreational activities, falls into this particular category. Keep our indulgence in balance with the rest of our life and it’s pretty harmless, even at its most drama laden, but too much of a good thing can indeed be harmful, no matter how much we may persuade ourselves to the contrary. That’s something I can attest to from personal experience – there was a time when I’m sorry to say, SL was definitely a contributing factor to some very destructive events in my life, and for the major part, simply because it had become far too significant a part of me than I should have allowed… The balance had tipped too far.
However, balance in life – or even in SLife – is rarely just a simple matter of finding our fulcrum and and pinning ourselves to that point of balance, sometimes maintaining balance is more about establishing a mean that permits occasional peaks and troughs, but overall averages out to a more even and level playing field. And, if we’re serious about balancing out our virtual and real lives, we have to occasionally take a pragmatic approach to our priorities… Over-indulgence in one area might realistically require us to redress the balance, equally indulgently, by investing in a similar fashion elsewhere, and it is with this in particular that we can often struggle.
Many of us tend to relate to SL and RL on the same level and apply no real distinction between either. Consequently we can struggle to reconcile the need to balance the two lives, since we unconsciously treat both as contiguous – together they are ‘life’ – but, of course, this is a misapprehension. Ideally, we need to be able to separate the two, but without falling into the trap of ascribing equal value to them. Instead, I’d suggest that both have their own merits and their value to us will fluctuate according to our needs and priorities. In practical terms, this means not resenting those occasions when SL has to take second place to the real world, but conversely, allowing SL to fill a proportionate amount of our downtime, without feeling guilt. This can be difficult!
That difficulty is compounded when you add the expectations of others into the mix – both our real world and virtual acquaintances have expectations of us, and can make demands of us that we feel we must – and sometimes we really should – honour. This is quite a balancing act in itself, and one that can easily scupper any attempt by ourselves to achieve a proper balance of priorities in either life… And is probably a matter best left for the next post!
Life is very short, and there’s no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend
I have always thought that it’s a crime
So I will ask you once again
The Beatles – We Can Work It Out