When Lent came around my freshman year of college, I wasn’t sure what I was going to give up. So, I decided to take something on instead, which is actually much more difficult! I chose to spend my breakfast time reading the daily Gospel readings instead of watching YouTube or going on Facebook. Ever since then, my mornings have been spent doing some form of reading, whether it is devotionals, motivational books, or daily Gospel readings. I never took a morning off, and I’d even bring my books to family vacations and research conferences. I guess you could say I was addicted to it.
After a year and a half of reading every morning, I finally broke. I sat down to eat breakfast and didn’t want to read. Normally, I would suck it up because I felt guilty if I didn’t. I felt like I was missing out on an opportunity to better myself if I skipped a morning, but for some reason that feeling faded that day. I convinced myself I was just taking a day off, pulled out my phone, and went on Facebook. The following morning, I found myself in the same situation, and the next thing I knew, a month had gone by. I wanted to start again, but I gave myself reasons not to. I convinced myself it was easier to keep scrolling through social media than to start over. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any books to read; I actually had a stack of them on my desk. I simply overdid it and wore myself out.
I think a lot of us have been in this situation. The best example is dieting. How many people do you know that have gone on a diet, done really well for a while, lost their discipline, and wound up weighing more than they did to begin with? Maybe this was you, and you were wondering what exactly went wrong. It’s simple: you overdid it.
Humans are interesting. We either tend to do things too much or not enough. It’s hard for us to find balance, and maybe that’s because it’s exactly what we need in life. Balance is the key to almost everything. Maybe if you didn’t limit yourself to chicken and broccoli and treated yourself to that donut every once in a while, that diet may have become a lifestyle. If I had varied my readings or accepted that it was okay for me to take a day or two off a week, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten worn out.
However, it’s important to not confuse balance with laziness. Balance is eating healthfully and exercising regularly, but knowing that having a slice of cake at your kid’s birthday party is going to do your mind and body better than a handful of carrots. Laziness is having the leftover cake for dinner because you didn’t feel like cooking.
For me, I’ve found balance by reading on the weekdays, but allowing myself a break on the weekends if I want it. The key is “if I want it”. If I’d rather watch Good Morning America or a YouTube video, then I will. But if I want to read, I read. I’m not giving myself an ultimatum. I’m giving myself a choice, and sometimes a choice is what the mind wants and needs.
Here are some ways you can use my balance-choice concept in your own life:
- Dieting – Eat healthfully six days out of the week, and give yourself one day to have a treat if you want it. This could be sharing an appetizer at dinner, getting fries instead of a side salad, or having an ice cream cone with your family. If you decide you’d rather have a side salad instead of fries, then have the side salad.
- Exercising – Have an “at least” attitude. For example, “I’d like to exercise at least 3 days a week. As long as I complete that goal, I’m good, but if I feel like going on an extra run, then I will.”
- Studying – Have a study schedule. Know what days you’ll study and what days you’ll go out with friends. For example, “I’ll study for two hours a night Sunday through Thursday, but Friday and Saturday are my social days. If I have time to study on those off-days, then I will.”
- Work – Have a work-space and a home-space. Do your work at work and relax at home. It’s when these two combine that you can get burnt out. If you need to bring your work home, have a specific area of the house to do it in. Also, give yourself a cut off time. For example, “I’ll go to work from 8 to 5. If I need to stay a little later, I will. If I need to bring anything home with me, I’ll do it in the dining room until 8pm. Then, it’s me time.”
I know these are simple examples in a complex world, but I hope the concept helps you develop your own choice-balance lifestyle. Remember, it’s a never ending process, but that’s what makes it fun…you’re always learning and improving yourself 🙂 As always, don’t forget to like, comment, and share this post. Talk to you on Friday!