Hot and cold, day and night, sweet and sour, rich and poor, black and white—we live in a world of duality. When we focus too much on one side of the metaphorical scale, the other suffers. Achieving balance is the key to cultivating your own sense of inner peace. Think about how easy it is to get caught up in the latest social media political argument, or “forget” to eat healthy meals in favor of a box of cupcakes.
Why should we worry about achieving harmony?
It might seem laughable to talk about finding inner peace after surviving 2020 and the first few months of 2021. With the global pandemic, climate disasters and intense political chaos across the world, many people are struggling harder than ever.
Unemployment has skyrocketed, kids are still taking Zoom classes and most of us haven’t seen our extended family or friends in over a year. How, exactly, are you supposed to achieve harmony when it feels like the entire world is falling apart?
That desperate feeling is the reason it’s so important to try to find inner peace and harmony. If it’s too difficult to imagine feeling peaceful, think of it as restoring your spiritual, mental and emotional equilibrium. Not only does this help you cope with all of life’s ups and downs, but it makes it easier for you to help others do the same. The more people who try to find harmony within themselves and their environment, the better off the world will be.
After all, the one thing we can expect is that there will be more ups and downs in life.
Restoring balance and harmony to your life
When you think about your life and your choices, how do you approach them? Many of us have an “either/or” perspective: either I quit my McJob today and find a new one, or I’m broke forever. Either I go to the grocery store tonight, or I starve. Either I have children with my partner now, or we’ll never have them. That black-and-white thinking often comes upon us in times of stress, but it can also occur when we’re having a good run. Either I put this money in my savings account, or I’ll be sorry if there’s an emergency. Either I take the leap and spend a year in France, or I’ll never have the opportunity again.
If you find yourself approaching life in this either/or manner, grab a piece of paper and make three columns. “Either” and “Or” should go on the left and right, and you can leave the middle blank for the moment. Write down your train of thought on each side: “either I quit the McJob today,” “or I’ll be broke forever.” Indulge both sides of that extreme thinking. Write down all your thoughts and feelings about each side of the equation. Then use the middle column to literally (and metaphorically) find some middle ground. For example, maybe you don’t quit today: maybe you use your 15-minute break to see what kind of job postings are out there, or look for skills classes at your local library.
This technique is a practical solution, but the implications go beyond making life choices. It’s also a way to remind yourself that living at either extreme is not healthy—and it certainly won’t cultivate happiness.
You can apply this to just about any area in life, including your relationships. Not only does it force you to examine whether you’re creating a false dichotomy (“Either my spouse takes the trash out tonight, without having to be asked again, or I’m going to jail for murder”), it also encourages you to step back and find different solutions.
Whether relationships, spirituality, work or other facets of your life, bouncing between extremes is not conducive to inner peace. When you can gain a new perspective, however, it’s easier to work with the ups and downs life throws our way.
Oscar Wilde once quipped, “Everything in moderation—including moderation.” As usual, he was right on the nose. Finding balance between extremes is the best way to keep our minds, bodies and souls happy. But it’s also okay to enjoy the extremes once in a while, too, whether that’s a wine-soaked night with friends or letting yourself wallow in negative emotions. As long as you tip the scales back in the other direction eventually, you’re that much closer to finding inner peace.