This post is Part 3 in a 6-part blog series on Balance. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.)
If living a balanced life is so adaptive, how do we get so UN-balanced? Why is obtaining balance such a challenge for most people? I think our struggles with balance have both biological and environmental causes. It’s both nature and nurture.
For example, when we are born, we aren’t a blank slate. We come out of the womb with certain tendencies. Personality is remarkably consistent over time. For example, some of us are more extraverted, whereas others are more introverted. Some of us are more cautious, whereas others are more open to new experiences. We all have different tendencies, which make it easier to get out of balance in certain ways.
For example, I tend to be a bit cautious. It’s not all of who I am, but in general, I tend to hold back and observe, rather than jump into a situation. I think in some ways, this has to do with how I’m wired. But because of that wiring, if I get out of balance, it tends to be in the direction of anxiety and fear. For someone who is wired differently, they might get out of balance in a different direction, such as depression.
Our environment plays a big role as well. Depending on their home life, children sometimes struggle to get their needs met in healthy ways. In order to protect themselves, children can sometimes develop rigid ways of engaging the world in order to survive. When children grow up and become adults, this rigid way of behaving often causes some problems. But it’s hard to change course when you have been doing the same thing over and over again for a long time.
I think our broader culture has a tendency to shift us out of balance in certain ways as well. For example, with the invention of the internet and smart phones over the past 20 years, we have more information and entertainment at our fingertips than ever before. But we are also more distracted and hurried than ever before. Many of us are out of balance with the frantic pace of today’s society.
What about you? Think about your biological makeup and early childhood influences. Also, take stock of the broader culture and where it directs your time and attention. What are some of the areas of your life that you have struggled to develop in a balanced way?