I think that the number 3 is the key to a balanced life. I know, I know, it is an odd number, which makes it seem counterintuitive. However, I have found that my life is most fulfilling when I strike a balance of nurturing the three parts that make up my whole person: Mind, Body, and Spirit. Each part is equally essential for a balanced, healthy life. Here are some examples of ways to nurture your entire self:
- Read Literature – This is different from merely reading for pleasure. Read the classics, the Great Books, the time-tested literature that will expand your mind and stretch your imagination. Don’t have time to read? Listen to an audiobook during your daily commute.
- Learn a Foreign Language
- Puzzles and Word Games – Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, or my personal favorite, Scrabble.
- Learn about another culture – This world is such a huge and interesting place. Pick a country and learn all that you can about its history, its culture, and its people.
- Take a college course – College classes are not only to advance one’s career. There are many online courses available, including free courses for anyone who is interested.
- Commit to an exercise routine three days of each week (There’s that number 3 again). — Stick to it.
- Learn a new sport or physical activity. — Not a runner? Try yoga, or swimming, or an adult drop-in soccer or volleyball league.
- Eat less meat. – You don’t have to become a vegan or vegetarian to enjoy meatless meals. There are huge health benefits to cutting out meat even on an occasional basis. Try making a goal of eating a meatless lunch or dinner three days per week. This doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit. Explore the internet or your local library for healthy and delicious meal ideas.
- Move your body as much as possible. – Avoid shortcuts. Park in the back of the parking lot and walk. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Walk in place while watching television. Just keep moving.
- Sex – (No advice here, but some would say that regular sex nurtures the body, mind, AND spirit)
- Keep a journal – More than just a record of your daily activities, a journal is a way to express your personal thoughts and ideas as you travel down the path of life. Or you can do as I do – write a blog. Just be cautious — remember that the rest of the world can read your journal, too.
- Read what makes you happy – This is a different type of reading. Whether you enjoy reading children’s novels, humor books, or just plain smut, read what makes you smile. A little book candy every now and then is good for the spirit.
- Give back to your community – Get involved in a community service project, plant flowers along the roadways, pick up litter in the local park, or visit with the elderly in a neighborhood care home. You may be surprised at how altruism nurtures your own spirit while improving the lives of other people.
- Become an encourager. Smile at strangers and wish them a good day. Give your neighbors a basket of homemade muffins. Write thank you notes and send get well cards to people. Make friendly comments to other people or Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, or whichever online social community you prefer.
- Surround yourself with beauty – Display beautiful artwork in your home or office. Take time to look at other people’s beautiful photography on Flickr. Go for hikes out in nature. Listen to beautiful music that feeds your spirit.
- Find religion – Dedicate yourself to the belief system that brings you the greatest sense of peace and belonging to something greater than yourself.
- Develop friendships – Get together regularly to talk, laugh, and enjoy life with other people. That way, you not only nurture your own spirit, but you will also nurture the spirits of other people in your life.
I am most certainly not an expert in achieving a balanced life. In truth, I often fail in several of these ideas – especially the ones which involve other people. But just because something is difficult to do, it does not mean it is not worth trying. Perhaps striving for balance is like climbing a mountain. In order to climb, you must have a sturdy anchor, a rope, and the strength or your own body. When you put these three together, you can keep climbing; keep advancing inch by inch toward the summit.