20 Dec Harmony Trumps Balance: I’m Going for Harmony in My Life!
For many years I sought to strike a healthy balance between my marriage, family, work and personal pursuits. I’m often asked the infamous balance question, “Dr. Toni, How do you balance all of the things you do? You’re a wife, mother, pastor, CEO of a Non-Profit, college professor, coach, businesswoman and itinerant preacher and speaker. How in the world do you do it?” My response to that question heretofore has been the typical balance response of making sure I have good time management and good team of people around me to aid me in all of my responsibilities and a good wellness plan that keeps me healthy and fit.
While all of these things are necessary to strive for what we call “balance”, I want to offer a different word that might shift the conversation in the direction of something more attainable for those who wear many hats. While it may appear to most that I have mastered this thing called balance, I too have asked this meaningful question to others who appear to have it more together than myself. I have taught seminars and workshops on “the balancing act”, only to struggle with the elusive ideal of “balance” in my own life.
The word balance suggests that we are in a constant state of equilibrium with an equal distribution of weight and tension. When in fact life is not easily packaged in equal amounts of experiences and responsibilities. The truth is, we are always in a state of flux trying to decide the proper amount of attention to give to the various aspects of our lives. The challenge with balance is that it is a moving target and just when I think I have mastered it, the target moves and I have to make the right decision for the present moment and life issue that I’m facing.
Well, after 51 of years of being worn out from my quest for balance, I have decided to chunk the idea of maintaining balance for a more attainable virtue of maintaining harmony in my life. Just hearing the word harmony brings a sense of peace and tranquility to my mind and spirit and causes me to exhale and breathe in new life with each breath. Harmony suggests that I can bring the different parts of my life together into consistent orderly agreement and practical congruity.
Here’s are 11 things I have discovered about how to bring and maintain harmony into your life:
- Accept who you are with all your gifts, skills, strengths and weaknesses. Engage in a self-awareness process with a coach or mentor so you can walk away appreciating who you are and all that you have experienced.
- Learn to love yourself. For many years, I suffered with low self-esteem because of my dark complexion and skin tone. I learned to love myself through a process of study in the word of God and mentors who spoke words that were affirming, causing me to see my own self-worth and value. You cannot love others until you discover and love the masterpiece you were created to be.
- Do some soul searching on the things that are important you, such as your values. Once you have discovered those things, match your gifts, skills, strength, weaknesses and values to the activities, jobs and opportunities that are consistent with who you are and what’s important to you.
- Prioritize your family and other significant relationships. Life is to be lived within the context of community. Relationships make our lives worth living and can be a source of refreshment to our soul.
- Rid your life of negative people and develop a network of positive forward thinking people. Don’t waste your time trying to make others value you. Allow the work that you do speak and open the right doors of opportunity for you.
- Develop a self-care regiment that is consistent with the things you enjoy. A good self-care plan includes, exercise, healthy eating, rest, relaxation and plain old fun! One of my favorite lines of the flight attendant speech is “In the event of an emergency an oxygen mask will descend. Place your own mask on first before helping those around you.” You really can’t take care of the people in your life if you neglect to care for your self.
- Learn to enjoy new things so you don’t become stale and monotonous in your routines. Get a hobby, learn a new skill, visit a new city or country, try a new dish or restaurant and live life to its fullest.
- Be quick to forgive offenses. Don’t burn bridges because you never know when you may have to cross them again. Get the necessary counsel to help you get over disappointment and pain and keep it moving!
- Don’t be a people pleaser. If there is one thing that will clutter your life and keep you on a never ending treadmill, it is the idea of being a people pleaser. You can never satisfy the whimsical indifferences of people. Rather than be tethered to the opinions of people it is better to pay close attention to your own desires, pursue your own goals and follow the path that has been carved out especially for you.
- Develop Your A-Game. Become one of the best in your field and do your best work while doing it. Sharpen your skills by learning from others who are good at their game too.
- Discover Your A-Team. Find those people who have been called alongside you to help you accomplish those God size dreams and visions. Whenever your dream and vision involves helping and improving the quality of life for others, it will require people with different and more skill sets than can be embodied in one person.
Life is like a score of music, with simultaneous combinations of tones and rhythms. Like music, that when blended together into the right chordal structure becomes a melodious masterpiece that is pleasing to the ear, our lives can be lived in a way that makes the chaos of our lives come together in a melody of rhythms that are unique to who we are and what we are destined to be and do.
Since life happens simultaneously, meaning that we live, work and play in the same lifetime, we must discover ways to blend the various parts of our lives into a melodious structure of chords and tones that flow simultaneously. Just like the score of music determines the notes, rhythms, rest points, moods, feelings and crescendos of a musical masterpiece, our lives can be conducted in a manner that gives room to each movement at the right moments, in the right places, with the right people in harmony with our purpose.