When I think of life-balance, it reminds me of the plate-spinner I saw on the Ed Sullivan show when I was a kid. (now I am dating myself). He had a series of sticks lined up in a row, pointed upward, and a pile of dinner plates. The goal was to get a plate spinning simultaneously atop every stick. He started with the first stick on his right and carefully balanced a spinning plate, then repeated with stick number 2, number 3, etc. As he worked down the row, the first plate started to slow down and wobble, so he ran back to the beginning to re-spin that plate so it would not fall, then he worked back down the row to the point he could add another plate, revisiting the wobbling plates as he went. Working back and forth multiple times, he eventually got a spinning plate on every stick – but it took constant attention to every stick and plate along the way. In the end, all the plates slowed down and toppled.
This is a great visual for our lives as we attempt to balance our work, family, finances, health, spirituality, community, and domestic responsibilities. Those are the broad categories. Each category has its own set and sub-set of “sticks” on which to balance the plates of our lives. Family, for example, may have many members and each member may have a set of demands you are trying to juggle.
If you are beginning to think that life balance is an impossible dream, you are probably right. That is certainly what I am thinking – hence, the trend toward minimalist lifestyles, life simplification and reinvention of oneself and the workplace. Millennials may have it right. They have watched their plate-spinning parents for decades and are making different choices.
For those of us who have been plate-spinning, where does happiness fit-in? How do we ever achieve it?
Instead of taking the top-down approach, trying to get our arms around the ever expanding big-picture, experts are encouraging us to boil it down to the basics. What is one of the most basic elements of happiness? It is gratitude and much has been written about this lately. I found this outstanding article by Amit Amin at Happier Human; The benefits of gratitude. It seems that gratitude is a key attribute that positively affects every area of our lives.
The way Amit has laid out his post makes this a great go-to resource no matter which area of your life presents a challenge. The key to gaining the extensive benefits of gratitude is to make gratitude a lifestyle and not something you resort to only when the “chips” are down.
Amit Amin, and many others, promote a daily gratitude journal, while Kristin Wong suggests making gratitude an item on your daily to-do- list. Whichever way you choose, get started. When you practice gratitude every day it becomes a part of your character and you will reap the benefits in all areas of your life.