Many people have one word they would like to remove from the language to make the world a better place. Some good ones I know include the words ‘luck,’ ‘deserve,’ ‘try,’ ‘blame,’ ‘hope,’ ‘want,’ and ‘perhaps.’ Language is indeed important in shaping our thoughts and hence creating our worlds, so it pays off to choose our words carefully.
If there were one word I would seek to remove from our everyday parlance, it’s the word ‘balance.’ I could never stand that word; it bothered me that it was framed as such a positive personal development beacon of truth, yet I would see so many problems with it. I’ve explained to my friends a few times why I dislike this word and why it shouldn’t be used, and to save from me explaining it each time to them, I’ll do a writeup to explain the downside in using the word ‘balance,’ and what it should be replaced with instead.
When do we use the word ‘balance’
We usually hear the word ‘balance’ used in ways such as ‘eat a balanced meal,’ or ‘you’ve got to have a work-life balance.’ In high school, we had to do an exercise called ‘balance of life’ when applying for courses, to ensure our life was ‘balanced.’
To this day, I can’t understand that thinking. If I am taking six courses vs eight courses, how does that ‘balance’ my life? It just determines whether I have more free time, or less free time. That’s it. How is it about ‘balance’?
Take the ‘eating a balanced meal’ example. Usually people like the 80/20 rule to define ‘balance.’ So for a meal you eat 20% of the oiliest chips/fries, and the other 80% you have raw fruit juice. I don’t think that’s a pleasant expression, but it does achieve ‘balance.’
My sister and I noticed this when we were living between the US and Taiwan – the US has a much wider selection of health foods because there’s a demand for ‘balancing out’ all that extremely unhealthy food. The food in the US is insanely tempting, and thus to ‘balance’ it, we eat all these healthy foods to make us feel better – henceforth the demand for these products and the supply to meet it.
The problem with focusing on ‘balance’
From my perspective, focusing on balance has been a detrimental perspective for us to work toward – it justifies our bad habits and actions as somehow alright if we are able to ‘balance them out’ with better ones. Instead of learning not to gossip and bad-mouth others, we’ll do something nice to their face to ‘balance it out’. Instead of learning to release our negative relationship or addictions to foods that are not great for us, we stuff in the ultra healthy health-maximizing superfoods to ‘balance it out.’ Instead of realizing that we may not be present in both our work and our home life, we ‘balance’ the amount of time we spend in each and call it a day.
Using the word balance can also shroud what we need to look at, because through the lens of balance, we incorrectly believe that all we need to do is make sure we are balanced. Let’s say you achieve a perfect work-life balance, but you’re not in the right job for you – then you can’t explain what’s wrong when you’re fatigued and exhausted by a few hours of work. Or you eat a well-balanced meal, but in actuality, your body really needs more of a particular nutrient that isn’t on your perfectly balanced plate.
Replacing the perspective of ‘achieving balance’ with the perspective of ‘choosing expression’
Instead of looking at things through the lens of balance and always trying to manically achieve a balance, I vouch for looking at the expressions we’re creating, and the relationship to those expressions. We need to wholeheartedly choose an expression, creation, and vision of who we would like to be, and express that in full alignment in our everyday lives. Instead of seeking to achieve a balance, we should seek to define and create a specific expression.
For example, you can choose an expression of food and eating that includes an assortment of vegetables and meat, being heavier on the meat side overall, if that’s what serves your body most. You can choose an expression of work-life that may include much more time spent at work, but the fulfillment and satisfaction from that allows you to be much more present and happy when you’re at home with your kids. You can choose an expression of friendship that is about God first, or highest love first, and let that dictate your actions within your relationships accordingly.
When we choose and define an expression first, balance will naturally be achieved.
Life without the need to ever ‘balance it out’
For me, ‘balance’ has always been a problematic way of looking at things. I’ve found that when I choose ‘expression’ instead of ‘balance,’ I’m also forced to define what expression is in my highest good, which holds me to a higher accountability for my actions than achieving or maintaining ‘balance’ is able to.
So, by getting rid of the word ‘balance’ from your vocabulary, what expressions might you create moving forward? How do you think your life would change if you scrapped viewing your life through the lens of balance, and instead, forced upon the perspective of choosing an expression to regulate your everyday decisions?
I can assure that ironically, life is much better balanced with using expression.