“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it” (William Feather)
The term ‘balance’ does not imply that we spend equal time with family, equal time with work, equal time with friends, and so on. It means rather that we find in our lives a proper proportion or blend for each. We need to find joy in our todays and not wait for joy in some future event. Dr Stephen R Covey (Everyday Greatness) notes: “Everyday terms such as burnout, red-eye flights, stress, power lunches, workaholism, and overtime often cram together to spell the phrase ‘I need a life’. One of the greatest challenges we face in pursuing Everyday Greatness is that of dealing with all the competing demands that are placed on us. There seem to be so many choices and so little time. To get the most out of life, we must find ways to simplify by focusing only on that which matters most and by taking the opportunity to refresh our minds and bodies.”
American humourist, Erma Bombeck (If I had my life to live over), said insightfully:
“If I had to live my life over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner, even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when some one wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would never have insisted that the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television — and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realised that the wonderment growing inside me was my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said ‘Later, now go get washed up for dinner’. There would have been more ‘I love yous’, more ‘I’m sorrys’, but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back.”
Stopping to enjoy life more means placing relationships ahead of things, and missions ahead of clocks. Living life solely on the basis of efficiency and cost effectiveness does not come without a price.
Covey wisely emphasises: “We are not animals. We are self-aware human beings, and between all that has happened to us and our responses to it is a space, and in that space lies our power and our freedom to choose our responses, and in those choices lie our growth and our happiness. I learned that from an unknown book many years ago while wandering through the stacks of a library in Hawaii. It profoundly affected the rest of my life, all my work and my writing included. We can stop and pause and reflect. We can decide what is most important and separate out that which is urgent but not truly important. Though we may have seasons of imbalance for various, even wise reasons, our lives can ultimately reflect a deep inner balance. This may require us to reinvent ourselves, something animals cannot do. I have found that the best way to do this is to schedule priorities first, letting less important activities fill in any open gaps — should there be any. There is a significant difference between prioritising your schedule and scheduling your priorities.”
Finding your share of happiness requires choices — choices that say ‘no’ to the irrelevant (but sometimes seemingly urgent) and ‘yes’ to those people or activities that matter most. Happiness is a life gift that we create.