The wrong and right kinds of balance

. 2 min read

Have you noticed that it seems to be a norm in today's society that people should seek balance in their lives? Balance between work and free time, alone time and time with family and friends, balance between home and travel, balance between discipline and indulgence. All awhile one shouldn't worry too much about principles and should have a yolo attitude towards life's small joys.

On the one hand, I agree that just like with structural systems, if a life isn't in equilibrium, it will collapse. On the other hand, the general idea seems to be that the balance should be found within each day: you have a glass of wine and a little dessert every day, and end the workday in time to cherish your personal life. Think of it as a seesaw - two people of equal masses stand at the same distance from the pivot point, creating equilibrium.

But what's the fun in that?

How about, instead, we have a lighter person further away from the pivot point and a heavier person closer to the pivot point. Equilibrium remains because the moments (force times distance) created by the masses to the pivot point cancel each other out, but the differences in masses and distances create an interesting scenario.

What I mean by this metaphor is that instead of working the same amount every day, having a glass of wine and a little dessert every day, you work the crap out of it on five to six days a week without any wine or dessert and on the seventh you don't work at all and have the equivalent amount of seven days' wine and dessert on one day.

This has worked perfectly for yours truly at least. There are a number of reasons this kind of arrangement is optimal for me:

  1. I couldn't only have "a little dessert" every day - I'd lose control by the taste of sugar and have "a lot of dessert" every day.
  2. Having to resist the temptation to have wine and dessert for six days in a row after an indulgence day strengthens my character and makes me respect myself for being able to do it.
  3. Six days is just enough for me to stick it out without losing the cravings altogether.
  4. I like the idea of getting to eat as much dessert as I want once a week.
  5. Working insanely long days during the week gives meaning to my life and makes me sleep well at night. It also enhances my self-respect.

Now, I'm not saying this is the right kind of balance and the other is the wrong kind - I'm saying the right kind is the one you find better for yourself, and the wrong kind is the one society and other people are trying to shove down your throat.

Sometimes I feel like I'm running out of time and playing catch-up with all the tasks I need to get done, and sometimes I feel like having a little ice cream even if it isn't indulgence day - but once I get the things done, even if I have to sleep a little less, and if I just resist the ice cream craving until indulgence day, it'll be all worth it.

Come indulgence day, I can relax and forget about work and just have as much dessert and wine as I like, because I've planned for it ahead, and because I know I've earned it.