No matter how much is spoken about work/life balance, the modern world is designed to be out of kilter.

Photo by Felipie Morin

Modern life is stressful. This is a fact you can rely on. There is rarely any time to take a breath, let alone stand and stare.

At work you see the same faces everyday, people you are forced to be with. A boss/guilty conscience telling you what to do on an hourly basis.

Your brain hurts from the metaphorical weight that is fast consuming your every free thought. There is a sense that your life is spiraling out of control.

As a welcome distraction, desktop computers will flash up holiday snaps or screen savers with places to daydream about. However, hiding behind the pretty vistas are spreadsheets with numbers to crunch and 100-page documents that someone has to read.

No wonder people run screaming to the nearest beauty spot. Some take a two-week vacation; others go the whole hog, quitting to travel. Good for them.

Regular Versus Extraordinary

Many Buddhist monks get to look at the Himalayas all day, so it’s unsurprising they are at peace. I’d call it an unfair advantage.

It is said that travel broadens the mind. Conversely, monotonous routine squeezes the mind into a dark corner where imagination evaporates and inspiration dries up.

I want to say I have perfected the Buddhist monk technique of “nobility in every task“, but unfortunately my patience is wafer-thin at best.

Besides, many Buddhist monks get to look at the Himalayas all day, so it’s unsurprising they are at peace. I’d call it an unfair advantage. Faced instead with a mountain of ironing or a lawn that could feasibly hide a Bengal tiger, escaping for a vacation seems the ideal solution.

I could be accused of putting off today what I can do tomorrow, but countering with another adapted adage – if you live every day as if it’s your last, would the housework get done? And more importantly, would you care?

Restoring The Balance

Photo by Marielito

No matter how much is spoken about work/life balance, the modern world is designed to be out of kilter.

People are striving to be thin, pretty and successful while the message from the media is “must try harder.” It’s as if they have forgotten how to be happy.

Being humbled by nature puts things into context, making the bigger picture easier to see. Spending a couple of hours on a deserted island, just being yourself rather than the frazzled, harried person you are on a day-to-day basis is unquestionably good for your soul.

A difficult trek up a mountain may be challenging, but the rewards from the journey as well as the euphoria of reaching the final destination are incomparable. Experiences like these allow you to be introspective, directing your energy inwards. It’s enough to make you realise that life is so much bigger than the box you are pigeonholed into and rarely fit perfectly.

Contemporary society compels you to rush from one thing to the next, never really appreciating anything and achieving little. Finishing a book or allowing the waves to lap at your toes for an hour would never be described as “achievements”.

They should be. Time spent reading a second-hand book in a tropical garden is never wasted.

Dream With The Fishes

I was once taught by a dive master to picture myself as a manta ray: calm, graceful, elegant, at peace. I have been fortunate to see a manta ray glide effortlessly through the ocean and it was the embodiment of tranquillity.

To allow things to wash over you, rather than drag you down into the depths is something everyone is capable of.

This technique was invaluable when diving, but is much more difficult to apply when faced with the urge to throttle a particularly annoying co-worker.

However, while snorkeling or diving in the ocean, those spreadsheets and tedious documents are far from your mind. And you will feel all the better for it.

To allow things to wash over you, rather than drag you down into the depths is something everyone is capable of. This is easier said than done – a good reason why many people change their lives rather than let a particular situation beat them into submission.

If you don’t like the view, go look at something else.

The desire to be somewhere physically beautiful is instinctive. In a world where time is everything, a moment spent just being in front of a mountain, watching a turtle swim by or sitting under the shade of a palm tree is balm for the soul.

Don’t put this off, do it now.

What do you think about the life/work balance? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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