Written by Telana Simpson

Work / Life Balance shouldn’t be our goal.

Peace should.

Balance is a concept that we all strive towards. “I need to find balance between my work and personal life” is a statement I hear so often from my clients.

Yet the concept of balance and the continual telling ourselves we need to have more of it in our life, can often lead to the stress we feel in managing our time.

Dr Linda Friedland is well known for achieving a lot work wise, while juggling her life as a wife and mother of 5 children.

One of her most useful concepts is challenging the traditional view of ‘balance’.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that balance is the ultimate, and that it involves having equal amounts of time and energy to focus on each compartment of our life at the same time. We need to strive for the scale being in “balance” in that the two sides of the scale are not moving, and are still.

Yet she points out how insubstantial this is, as life is just not like that- even the human body is never in total stillness or balance. Every cell is constantly in a state of flux and motion as your heart and lungs continuously contract and relax, for example.

Diagram of a heartbeat, to show how it can be used as a metaphor for finding balance

A heart-beat consists of a strong beat with a period of recovery, and this is different to the flat-line of no ups and downs, of “balance”.

She purports to rather strive for a state of peace.

Instead of searching for elusive balance that does not exist, we can look for moments of peace and calm, in between the moments of being fired up and taking action. For healthy functioning, we need both the calm and the action. As she says in her book “Having it all”:

“If you study your heartbeat, or feel your pulse, you will find that there is a duality: two phases to each beat. There is the contraction, the pumping out of the blood (you hear the ‘lub-dub’ sound) and then there is a quiet withdrawal (where you hear nothing). This is the expansion, the quieter phase when the heart has a moment to refill with blood.

Every heartbeat, breath cycle and muscle movement is composed of these two phases: intense activity then refilling. Not the stillness of scales but the peaceful coexistence of action and rest within every beat… What I find fascinating about this heartbeat is that the two phases- pumping and then refilling are not equal! The pumping phase is significantly longer than the refilling.” (pg. 103)

The body also has the mechanisms in place to continually move towards homeostasis, or a state of harmony and equilibrium. “The state of Peace, therefore, is not an absolute calmness; it is equilibrium and equanimity that is fluid and vital”.

So “finding balance” is more like knowing that there will be times where we exert a lot of energy and spend most of our time on one activity, but that we then need to follow that up with a time for rest or play to refill. That would give us the peace we are looking for by searching for elusive balance.

This approach of rest after action, allows us to have the energy to give the next thrust of effort to what ever needs our attention. Peaceful then is more likely to be how we live our life, knowing that we have ‘balance’ in that there is time for work and time for play- times for being fired up and taking action, and times for being calm and refilling.

Instead of trying to manage to have everything in that stillness of the scale of balance, rather we are able to go full speed when needed, and rest afterwards to refill before we focus our attention on the next area of our lives.

Working with the duality of your heartbeat means knowing that life is neither just chaos or just calm. It is a flux between these seemingly contradictory opposites. With the business of modern day life, we need to put effort into making sure we allocate small periods of time regularly to creating quiet time to re-charge.

About the Author:

Telana is a dynamic, transformational Personal Coach and Blogger who specializes in communicating and relating.  She is fascinated by consciousness evolution and goes on adventures to push her boundaries and preconceptions.  She offers coaching and training programmes to help individuals develop their ability to express themselves and their potentials and improve their relationships, and is a host of an online TV show.