Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance,
order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton
Do you struggle to find balance in your life? Many of us lead lives that are anything but balanced. In fact, at times, we often feel like a cat trying to balance on a tree branch, ready to tumble off at any moment. Some of us will manage to right ourselves, others will try to balance by flailing about, and the rest of us will fall off and try to get back on again. But eventually, no matter how hard we try, we’ll all fall off if we don’t create balance in our lives.
Balance is an essential ingredient for a happy life. When your life is in balance, your body, mind and spirit are in harmony. Everything just feels right.
But how do you achieve that balance in these hectic times we live in?
The definition of balance will vary from person to person, but the following tips can help create balance in anyone’s life:
Make time for yourself. You can’t be there for everyone else unless you take care of yourself.
Exercise regularly and eat healthy. This goes right along with taking care of yourself.
Integrate your passion with your work. Most of us spend up to a third of our lives at work. Doing work you’re passionate about rather than work that’s “just a job” will go a long way toward creating balance in your life. If you haven’t found a way yet to combine the two, leave your work at the office. Nobody ever looks back on their life and wishes they had spent more time at the office!
Spend time with family and friends.
Live within your means. Stress over finances is one of the biggest obstacles to creating balance in your life.
Don’t multi-task. You may think you’re getting more done that way, but you’re really not. By putting your full focus and energy on one task at a time, you will work more efficiently and you won’t feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.
Spend time with your cats! Spending time with cats is one of the best ways I know to come back into balance instantly.
What one thing will you do this week to create more balance in your life?
Could the purr be anything but contemplative? – Irving Townsend
It’s hard to find time for quiet contemplation in these busy lives we lead, but without making time for it, we end up stressed, depressed and anxious. Cats are masters not just at purring, but also at quiet contemplation, as Amber demonstrates in the photo above. We’d be wise to take our cue from them.
Contemplation can take many forms: it can be something as structured as a meditation practice, or something as simple as taking a walk in the park. For me, even watching my sleeping cats can be a contemplative experience.
Most people use the excuse that they’re too busy to make time for just being quiet. I think you can’t afford not to make the time, or your mental and physical health will suffer. And it’s really not that hard to carve out a little extra time each day. If you’re a planner, you may need to schedule quiet time into your day, just like you schedule any other activities.
To help you along, here are some tips on how to create extra time for quiet contemplation and solitude. Whether it’s an hour, or even just ten minutes, I promise you, you will find that your life will improve. Solitude is not the same as spending time alone watching tv, surfing the internet, or reading. There’s nothing wrong with any of these activities, but they won’t result in the quiet space you need for contemplation and reflection.
Cut back on your TV time. Americans spend an average of seven hours a day watching tv – how hard could it be to cut back on what, let’s face it, is often wasted time? Stick to watching only shows that you truly enjoy, don’t just sit in front of the TV because it’s there.
Get up a little earlier. Spending quiet time first thing in the morning (after you feed the cats, of course!) assures that it won’t fall by the wayside as you get busy later on.
Cut back on your e-mail and internet activities. (Just don’t cut back on reading The Conscious Cat!)
Plan your errands ahead of time. By organizing your route and sequence of errands, and grouping them together, you can save time, and, as a nice additional benefit, gas money.
Minimize housework. Relax your standards a little bit if you can. Do some basic cleaning once a week, and a more thorough cleaning once a month.
Do you make time for contemplation? How do you do it? If not, why not?
Being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view
to a viewing point — a higher, more expansive place, from
which you can see both sides. – Thomas Crum
Sometimes, we get so mired in our day to day lives that we can’t see the forest for the trees. We find ourselves stuck in our routine, entrenched in our point of view of things, and unable to move forward.
While I’m not suggesting that you climb up on top of your dining room cabinet like Allegra in the picture above, what better way to change your view than to see life through the eyes of your cats? In their lives, every little thing is a cause for delight, whether it’s a speck of dust on a sunlit floor, a special treat in the food bowl, or a nap in the sun.
Spend some time this holiday weekend and look at life from your cat’s point of view. What are you seeing?
That’s the thing with magic: you’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for us. – Charles de Lint
Moments of magic happen every day if we allow ourselves to let them become visible. And they don’t have to be big, splashy moments, either. A perfect cup of coffee, first thing in the morning, can be magic. A walk in the park at sunset. An unexpected meeting with a friend. There’s a quiet joy in these moments of magic.
I had a very special moment of magic last week. The fact that it happened on my birthday made it even more special. I was reading, and Ruby was sleeping on my lap. All of a sudden, Allegra decided to join us. Now mind you, the two girls get along beautifully, but so far, there had been a limit as to how close to each other they were willing to get. But in that moment, Allegra jumped up on my lap, and settled down right next to Ruby. Ruby barely opened her eyes. Allegra started grooming herself, and gave one of Ruby’s paws a quick lick before curling up for a nap of her own. There they were, my two girls, on my lap, right next to each other! It only lasted a few moments, a noise outside distracted Allegra and she got up to check it out. But while it lasted, it was pure magic.
I didn’t have my camera nearby to capture my magic moment, but I thought you’d enjoy this shot of the two girls together from the other day. It, too, qualifies as a magic moment: a photo with both of them looking at the camera at the same time!
One of the most important lessons animals teach us is to live in the moment. Our cats don’t waste time analyzing the past, and they don’t worry about the future. They’ve truly mastered the art of stopping to smell the flowers, as Odin so aptly demonstrates in the photo above.
On this Sunday, take a moment and let your cat show you how to stop and smell the flowers. Perhaps she’s trying to entice you to a vigorous play session? Or maybe she’d like you to join her for a Sunday afternoon nap?
What are you doing today to stop and smell the flowers?