When was the last time that you took the time to answer questions about yourself?
If you’re sitting there thinking ‘V, I answer questions about myself on the reg’, I’m not talking when you go on your Bumble dates or drinks with your mates and are answering questions others ask of you. I mean, when was the last time you asked yourself questions about yourself for no other reason than to understand yourself better?
My mind is a nonstop jumble of thoughts, daydreams, and conversations. I ruminate constantly and I spend a fair amount of my time, especially when I’m trying to fall asleep, wishing that my mind would just shut the fuck up. One of the few upsides to the constant babble that happens between my ears is that I ask and answer questions of myself all the time. As a result, I think of myself as a pretty self-aware person.
Really, defining what well-balanced living means to you is an exercise in just that; self-awareness. To help you, get started by answering these five simple questions.
1. What makes you happy?
Part of knowing what well-balanced living means for you is knowing what makes you feel good. Think about what you like doing when you aren’t at work, what your hobbies are, and who you like to spend time with.
Don’t be critical, just reflect and make a list of all the things that make you happy. I’m talking every single one, no matter how minor or outrageous.
Once you’re done, take a good hard look at it. Does anything on this list surprise you? Can you notice themes throughout? Maybe your list touches upon things like fitness, travel, books, friends, and everything in between.
2. What makes you suffer?
If life is about happiness vs. suffering, then knowing what makes you suffer is just as important as knowing what makes you happy.
Make a list of all the things that make you suffer and take a long hard look at it. How many on the list are outside forces that make you suffer vs things you do to yourself? How many on this list, when in play, have a direct impact on your ability to achieve happiness through your first list?
My guess is that you might be surprised.
Take me, for example. I feel happy when I listen to my body and exercise and eat healthily. I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that being inconsistent with working out causes me to suffer. Yet the more I don’t go, the less I want to go, the more I see my body changing and get down on myself, and the more I cause myself suffering.
3. What are your non negotiables?
Ask yourself what you absolutely must have in your life to feel minimally balanced and identify your top 3 to 5.
Your top 3 to 5 are what you should try like hell never to sacrifice.
Maybe you need to leave the office at 5pm every Tuesday in order to make a yoga class. Or you need to turn off your alarm on the weekends and let your body wake up on its own. Maybe you need to do something social like meeting friends for a pint, dancing in a pub, or going to that restaurant that you’ve been dying to try.
Your non negotiables are the boundaries you need to set for yourself, whether at work or with friends, because they are the minimum of what you need to live a well-balanced life.
4. What are your nice to haves?
Nice to haves are the things we like to have in our lives but don’t really need to survive.
There is classic instant gratification from things like sex, chocolate, coffee, shopping, gifs, music, and so on and so on. While each of these things make us feel good, we arguably could go without if we needed to (although some cheeky people may argue that they need sex to survive).
If your non negotiables are the minimum that you need to live a well-balanced life, then your nice to haves are what will make you feel extra good.
5. What matters to you?
We all have our own values that were either instilled in us when we were younger or that we’ve picked up along the way. Take a minute to think about the things you value and ask yourself whether they’re relevant to how you life your life now.
If what matters to you doesn’t match up to how your living your life, then you either need to adjust your behaviour or re-asses your values.
People change, priorities shift, and we can’t expect the values we had as teenagers to hold up when we’re in our twenties, thirties, and beyond unless we really want them to.
If you ask yourself these questions you will have the ingredients you need to define what well-balanced living means to you.
Take your time with it - you don’t need to answer all of these questions in one sitting. Hell, you don’t have to answer all of these questions in on week. There’s no rush, but do have a think about it. You might surprise yourself!