Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Is Balance Bunk?

I read an interesting article titled Balance is Bunk, which went on to say there is no such thing as balance between work and life. And teh author logically presents a set of arguments to say why we have to become workoholics, citing current trends in the world economy.

Reading this article made me think about what balance was actually. As the article tries to say, is this balance based on taking our pet to work? Taking dinnner home from the company cafetaria? And the author says that the balance movement is fundamentally flawed, propogating mythical ideas.

And what is suggested? To embrace imbalance! That is, to give what ever the task that we think is important, give it your full attention, neglect the rest. Over time balance a portfolio of diverse experiances!

Well the thought is good, and it may even appear as a solution to some. But if you think further, this is what most people do and what leaves them totally lost, dis-satisfied and without any feeling of purpose after some time.

The arguments presented suggests that virtues such as commitment and passion often requires one to be imbalanced. Is this really the case? Can we not strike a balance and still be committed and passionate? And without leading an imbalanced life, can we not be successful? These thoughts are scary to say the least.

The article quotes John woods, who has given up a succesful career with Microsoft to do something he finds internally stimulating, something that makes him happy. And he says, when work becomes a passion, it isnt work anymore! Good thought. But how many of us can actually do that! I have heard enough and more complains about people lamenting saying that thier jobs arent what they like doing. They would like to become an artist, a poet, or whatever else, but their commitments of supporting a family and seeing thier kids through college, keeps them in thier day jobs, whether they like it or not!

What is the price that you pay for being a workaholic! Is it worth missing your kids first years? Is it worth missing thier special moments? Is it worth finding out that the person you married has completely turned to another person and you had no clue about it, is it worth many other things which may be worse, which I dont want to mention here?

Havent you met or known enough people who seem to have everything but still seem totally lost? Who go back to an empty home aftera very productive day at work? Who, at thier moment of glory dont have antone to share thier happiness with? I have! What do you think the reasons are?

But thinking on the topic made me realize that the issue is not on the striking the balance, but what aspects are you trying to balance? you cannot achieve any kind of balance by trying to do too many things. There's only so much you can do within any given time. Hence obviously, you are going to end up doing only certain amount of things and end up not doing some other things. the trick is to identify the things that are important to you. And that doesnt mean that you need to give up one or the other. What is more important to you, suceess, inner happiness, or both. And if both is the answer, how much of each?

It is amazing to think that all these phenomena is mainly affecting western societies. This is mainly due to the fact that they search for one-stop solutions for these. They want pre-cooked, tried and tested sokutions to make them happy and be succesful. And they are now slowly arriving at the conclusion that you cannot be succesful without sacrifice.

Asian cultures have for long managed to host balanced life styles. These were destroyed and started to vanish after the asians also embraced western everything without ever considering the suitability of these concepts. I think the trick aboiut being happy and writing your sucess story is understanding YOU! An understanding of the human species and its mind will help us strike a balance in our lives. Abd you dont have to fall short in any aspect.

And you dont have to be super human to be happy in all fronts, as some of the research cited in the article suggests. The little that I know about Buddhism has taught me enough to understand and accept the realities of life. It helped me to deal with the death of my father, it enriches my relationship with my mother, it teaches me to become a better husband, guides me to be a better employee and a manager. It teaches me to manage my time productively, teaches me to mange my anxieties and fears, etc. In a nutshell it gives me a "Way of Life". I am sure it isnt just buddhism that teaches all these things. The otehr religions would give some pointers at least!

And it shouldnt get so omplicated. After all, you should LIVE your life. Be spontaneous. Do things on instinct. Face challenges. Embrace new ideas. All of these will be possible and more enjoyable, is you have come to terms with who you are, both internally and externally! That's what religion helps us to do! To come to terms with ourselves!

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