Forget Work Life Balance, Try This Instead


“There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”
Rumer Godden, A House with Four Rooms
This four rooms quote is one that resonates strongly with me. There’s a lot of attention paid to achieving the so-called work life balance. This line of thinking falls far short of the bigger picture. The quote speaks to accomplishing a more comprehensive balance that has far greater impact on our lives. I believe that the ability to achieve balance in each of these four areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual are the keys to living a meaningful, productive, and fulfilling life.
Physical balance is not limited to our bodies. Physical balance includes our environment; the space we occupy on a regular basis. Creating an environment of peace, order, and calm in the spaces we occupy and control, are just as important as taking care of our physical bodies. The role our environment plays on our well-being is not something that should be overlooked. Examine how you feel in the spaces you occupy. Arrange your space so that you feel calm, confident, productive, and at peace.
Mentally it’s less about what we think, and more about how we think. Others are constantly trying to influence our thinking and if allowed, we’d be blown in whatever direction the winds of outside influences want to take us. Taking charge of how we form our views and make decisions big and small cannot be stressed enough. Becoming conscious of our thinking process and determining for ourselves what has meaning and value is one of the best things we can do to create balance.
Photo by Jared Rice
Learning to control our emotions is another critical element in creating meaningful life balance. There’s no denying that in life we’re going to experience emotions. It’s allowing emotions to define and control us that takes us off balance. Stepping back and identifying the emotions we’re experiencing helps us to create separation from who we are and the emotion. The separation enables us to keep emotions in check, avoiding irrational decisions and regretful actions. Positive and negative emotions will come. Identify them, experience them, and then move on. Not getting caught up in our emotions allows us to maintain balance.
There is a distinction between spirituality and religion. The number of people who identify themselves as spiritual instead of religious is on the rise. Spirit is the foundation on which the other three components exist. Spirituality includes but also transcends the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of life. It’s the core, the essence of our being. The rising numbers of people that engage in regular meditation and mindfulness practices are indicators that more of us are seeking to get in touch with our core. Doing so is the foundation on creating a meaningful, fulfilling, balanced life.
These four elements are involved in every experience we have in life. How well they’re balanced strongly determines how we’re impacted by those experiences. In each of these areas there are levels of depth and detail that this post can’t address but suffice is to say they are all connected and interdependent. The point here is that the concept of “work – life” balance is limiting and insufficient. Developing daily routines and activities that facilitate growth in these four areas of life is the real balance we want to achieve. Everything else, including work, will be better experiences as a result. Life is best when all four aspects of our being are in balance. Create your own four-point balancing system, give it a try, you won’t regret it.