Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Keep Your Life in Balance


The statement above is a very powerful concept for self improvement. You may have heard or read this statement in passing, think "yes, a good idea" and then turned your thoughts back to everyday concerns. I want you to stop and spend a few moments with me today reading about this concept, then make a commitment to make changes which will improve your life. Our happiness, health and even prosperity depend upon self-regulation to keep our lives in functional balance: "just right."

Begin by thinking about the ways your life is out of balance -- too much or not enough -- of important characteristics such as work, play, stress, relaxation, education, sleep, exercise, TV, etc., and include concepts we recognize as important and others which may seem trivial. Make two lists entitled "too much" and "not enough." In making these lists you've probably discovered many imbalances in your life, perhaps with some good intentions to change and other areas where you feel stuck in these behavior patterns. The next step is to evaluate the consequences of these imbalances. Optimal living depends upon a plan for harmony and balance. Look at the list of qualities you put it in the "too much" category and you will probably find the opposite characteristic in the "too little" category.

The next step is to pick out one discrepancy at a time and begin by making a plan to address that imbalance. If you get discouraged easily you might pick out an imbalance which is fairly easy to change. By so doing you will experience positive reinforcement of your efforts and will be more motivated to address other imbalances. Another option is to address the issue which is causing you the most difficulty. Progress in this area may improve your life dramatically.

Young people may not fully appreciate the need for balance in their lives. Due to their resilience and flexibility they may experience success even when their life is out-of-balance. The adaptability of youth includes a risk that the effects of an imbalance may not be felt until later in life when it may be too late to correct the problem. For example, many young people work long hours to get their careers started not realizing the peril down the road of losing a relationship/marriage and developing serious health problems. Too often success is defined in this culture by external standards such as achievement at work rather than internal qualities of life such as peace, harmony and happiness.

I'd like to share an example from my own life. Being a psychologist, a lot of my time is spent dealing with my clients,  personal difficulties, heartbreaks and trauma. In order to keep my life in balance I finally realized that I need to avoid those kinds of experiences during the rest of my day and seek out counterbalancing experiences of peace, beauty and tranquility such as music, art, gardening, walking in the sun or rain, and so forth. You will not find me in the movie theaters watching the latest tear-jerker or horror flick. I know I've missed some good movies but it's more important to keep my life from being overstressed by negative emotions. I seek out humorous movies instead. An additional benefit is that humor has demonstrable benefits in increasing happiness and good health by reducing stress and supporting a healthy immune system.

Thank you for reading along with me, and I hope your slice of life in Chatham County will benefit from a better sense of harmony and balance.