Balance: the key to happiness

{ Sunday, April 22, 2012 }
“To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.” 
- Elizabeth Gilbert

I firmly believe that finding balance is the key to a happy and fulfilled life. 

If we have too much of one thing, we become dissatisfied with it, and long for the opposite. I believe we can become unhappy with too much money, too much company, too much stifling love. The key is to find your middle way. Not all people have the same balance, we all have different preferences. To find our personal balance, we need to pay close attention to our own needs and feelings. It's not a bad thing to make sure your needs are fulfilled, as long as you take the responsibility and don't expect someone else to fulfill them for you. If you are happy, you will put less pressure on your spouse and friends, and be able to accept them more like they are, with all their flaws and short-comings. You don't need them to be perfect, because you created your own happiness, and healthy boundaries. 

Balance between you and others

Finding our balance requires constant consciousness. It's finding the reasons behind our behavior. Maybe you go out every day with friends because it makes you happy - or because you are running from something that you don't want to face. Finding your balance is an act of self-love, and it's the most healthy thing anyone can do. During this act of self-discovery, you can ask yourself the following questions:

How do I feel about spending time with others? Regardless of society's view on being sociable and "out there", do I feel like I take enough time for myself? How do I feel after I spend time with others: recharged and full of energy, or rather drained? Wouldn't it be better for me to stay at home for a change, take a nice bath, and read a good book? Can I stand up for my needs and demand time for myself, or do I feel like I'm always running around to please others? 

Tip: make a list of some activities you enjoy doing on your own, and make time for it at least once a week. 

Or, do I feel lonely? Do I feel cut off from the world? Do I feel I need more contact with others? What's stopping me? A low self-esteem? Fear of the dangers of the world? What can I do to put myself out there more? Maybe take on a new hobby? Go to Islamic classes (or any classes of interest to you)? Even if you don't have good friends right now, it's never to late to meet them! Remember, a stranger is just a friend you haven't got to know yet!

Tip: look for classes in your area that are of interest to you, or contact an old friend and set a date to meet up with them. If you don't have time, then make some ;-)

Living in one of both opposites can be exhausting. Make sure your boundaries are in place when you deal with others, and don't let anyone prevent you from meeting new friends and/or seeing your old ones, if that's what you need. 

Balance between work and pleasure

If all we ever do in life is work, we miss the meaning of enjoyment. If all we ever do is seeking pleasure, we will never find it. 
Whether we like it or not, we have responsibilities in life. As Muslims, we have certain religious duties, next to studying, earning money and taking care of others. I believe that next to our duties, there should be time for pleasure. Pure, shameless pleasure. Reading a book in the garden, while the sun caresses your skin, watching your favorite movie with your favorite chocolates, laughing with your friend on the phone or meeting her in the park. We are not here only to work, but also to enjoy, to laugh, to love, to jump into puddles of rain, to smell the scent of flowers, and to seek beauty in everything we do. 
Try to find a balance in this, because we can only truly relax if we know how to work hard. Take some time to work, and to enjoy yourself, every single day. Try to enjoy the small things too: making your spouse laugh, encouraging your child with sweet words, watching the sun set, drinking that cup of tea you like so much. It can be very simple.
Try to work hard, to achieve your goals. We need goals to give our life meaning, and happiness also results from knowing we can count on ourselves to really go for something we want. Whether it's university, or as big as reaching Paradise, knowing that we are doing our best to achieve our goal can  give us confidence and fulfillment. Work hard, for yourself and your loved ones, and you will know real pleasure.

Balance between this world and the next

There is a reason why there are no Islamic monks. We are meant to keep our both feet firmly on the ground, even if our heart longs for our final Home. Islam teaches us to be involved in our communities, to care about others, to marry, and to not lock ourselves away somewhere. 

“We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” (Qur’an, 2:143)

True, we shouldn't get caught up in this world and all its splendor, but we shouldn't hide from it either. We have a responsibility to make this world a better place, to give charity, to want for others what we want for ourselves, while we worship God and strive towards His mercy and forgiveness. 

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and in the race for a garden wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the righteous- (the righteous are) those who spend whether in prosperity or adversity, who restrain anger and who pardon all people. For God loves those who do good. (Qu'ran 3:133 –134)

The worshippers of the All-Merciful are they who tread gently upon the earth, and when the ignorant address them, they reply, “Peace!“ ( Qur’an 25:63)


MarieHarmony said...

Very interesting Safiyah, great advice. I too think balancing our lives is the key to happiness.
Happiness has to be found within us, nobody or nothing can give it to us.
It just comes at the good time, I am just re-reading Eat Pray Love and I love the introducing quote your shared.
Take care dear and thanks so much. Marie

Safiyah said...

Thanks Marie! I'm also reading Eat Pray Love! :D

rose water said...

Masha'Allah dear Safiyah, this is a wonderful and very inspiring post! I can only agree with what you wrote! When we have that balance in our lives we are strong, happy and peaceful. It's a wonderful state. Thank you for all the tips you shared!
Do you mind if I link to this post on Pinterest? I'm sure other people would also find it inspiring.
Much love to you and have a beautiful weekend.

Safiyah said...

I'm glad you liked it, rosewater :) I don't mind at all if you share it x

rose water said...

Thanks, the link is on my pinboard "Healthy Living" now :-)

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