Sunday, May 5, 2013

Life strives for balance

Many cultures around the world have a concept of balance, but I think the Chinese yin-yang is the most known and easiest to use for a frame of reference. Yin and Yang is used to describe how seemingly opposite forces are interdependent. Examples... Male and female, dark and light, hot and cold, fire and water, life and death...

I said seemingly opposite, because the idea is that the forces complement each other and interact to form a whole greater than its parts. They rely on each other, and one cannot exist without the other.

Once you start thinking about it, everything has both yin and yang. (It's not about good and evil; while Confucianism attaches a moral dimension to the yin-yang idea, Taoism considers good and bad something that is perceived and not real.)

Anyway, I've always loved the symbol. I love how the light field contains a piece of dark, and the dark contains a piece of light.

I think everything tends to balance out, at least in the long run. It's the way of the world.

How do we find this balance when it comes to our own lives? I'd love to take my own culture as an example. I'm not saying the Swedes are experts, but in general we believe in balance, and go through great lengths to ensure everyone can achieve balance between work and free time, and so on. We have a concept called "lagom" that can be used for anything that's just right.

I sometimes talk about lagom, even here on the blog, and you might have heard this before. I can go into any Swedish restaurant and order a "lagom" cup of coffee, a "lagom" sized meal, or a "lagom" glass of milk, and we all have the same idea of how much it is.

In Sweden, we sometimes frown on "lagom" and think it's one of those ideas that hold us back from success. After living abroad and studying other peoples and cultures, I disagree. I think "lagom" keeps us on the right track and helps us achieve balance.

It can be applied to anything, really. Like...

  • Challenging oneself or working vs opportunities to rest.
  • Eating right and exercising vs treating oneself to some extra yummies.
  • Striving towards a goal vs enjoying the ride.
  • Taking time for others vs taking time for oneself.
  • Allocating time for things one enjoys vs things that need to be done.
Neither of these examples are inherently good or bad. Spending time with others is a good thing. Taking time for oneself is also a good thing. The tricky part is finding a balance between them.

I've had problems finding my balance for years. Having a day time job, working as a writer, going to school full time, and finding time for home and family took over my life to the point where I ran around aimlessly, exhausted myself, and accomplished little.

Now, I'm done with school and can let go of a big chunk of stress and time consumers. 

Getting back to a more relaxed state of mind is difficult. I'm so used to being stressed and having to hurry and work, I have a hard time accepting that I can relax, sit down, and pet the dog. 

I have to tell myself that it's okay to take time for me. 

The universe is trying to trip me. I think it's testing me. The day I finished my last class, my landlord informed me he's selling the house and we'll have to move. For a couple of days, I experienced a new level of stress; there were people in the yard putting up for sale signs, the phone rang and rang with the people wanting to see the house - which means cleaning and somehow getting the dogs out of the way. All of a sudden, people crawl by the house, staring at it, and sneak around in the yard.

There's also the problem of finding somewhere new to live. I've been attempting to get a mortgage and buy a house, but banks are less than impressed with my brief credit history. Honestly, I'm an immigrant, and I can't have a US credit history longer than I've been in the country. Renting is going to be difficult with four dogs. I don't know where we're going to move. We can stay here for two more months, after that, I have no idea.

I was stressed about it, probably out of old habit, because I've been stressed for so long. Then, I forced myself to sit down and exhale. Being upset or stressed doesn't help solve the problem. I should be alert for opportunities, and there's surely a grand opportunity at the end of this. I should pick a goal and work towards it. I should not allow it to upset the inner me.

Right now I feel okay not knowing where we'll live. Something will come up. I'm done with stress, and I need to find my way back to "lagom" where I can live happily in balance. I need a lagom mix between daytime job and writing, between working and family, and between the outside world and me.

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