Forget Being A Workaholic: Why Balance Is Key To Living A Life Free Of Regret
Okay, I admit it: I'm a bit of a workaholic. I love what I do, and on a consistent basis, I unwind after a long day at work with my laptop, only to find myself working again.
All of us are guilty of being some sort of "-holic" these days. Whether you're addicted to work, Netflix, Facebook, the gym, the party scene or whatever else, all of us have things in which we indulge a bit too much. But, who is at fault if we do what we love all the time?
It makes sense to do things that make us happy, right?
After years of following the fun for so long, it seems that the keys to happiness aren't found in doing only the "happy" things. Rather, the keys are in balance: equal parts pleasure and pain, in all areas of our lives.
The most interesting people in the world are the ones who have been through the whole gamut of life experiences. These are the people who have had it all, lost it all, then worked through the pain and worked through the pleasure to build themselves up again.
The truly happy people of the world have figured out that balance is the true path to happiness, and they take care not to get too caught up in addictive things. They've realized that one cannot and should not allow one area of life to rule all others.
For the rest of us, however, the path to happiness is a difficult one. We may love doing one thing and think we're on the right track, but after a while, we move on to yet another thing, into which we inevitably get sucked.
In life, finding balance starts with owning up to what we really value, and to be honest, that isn't so easy. None of us literally values just one thing, either; we value many things all at once — career, friends, health and adventure, to name just a few. How could we honestly be happy if we valued one above the other?
Therein lies the kicker. Life for a Millennial is not just about figuring out what we love and what we don't love. It's about navigating the balance between all things and all values. Once one area supersedes another, we begin to seesaw out of control, and before we know it, our faces are down in the dirt and we're wondering what the hell happened.
In psychology, our value system is the single-most important factor for determining thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It's these values that lead us to seek out or avoid experiences that shape our views and our attitudes, especially in regards to happiness.
Whatever you value, you typically do, often at the expense of your other values. You may value work, like I do, and spend a lot of time achieving purpose through your career. However, doing so will only get you so far. You have to make room for other things you value and not let them fall by the wayside.
The core issue here is how the balance of your values enhances or diminishes your quality of life. Any imbalanced pattern puts the path to happiness further outside your grasp.
In recent years, a nurse and her elderly patients at a terminal care facility put together a captivating study about regret. The study asked dying people what they regretted most about life. (See the infographic here: Top 10 Regrets Of The Dying.)
As these people are quite possibly in the best positions to answer this question, the study was downright eye-opening and showed us just how important balance really is. Each of the top 10 regrets held personal values at the core of living a happy and fulfilled life.
The top two regrets had to do with where they spent — or in this case, did not spend — the majority of their time.
The number one regret among the elderly was that they were never brave enough to pursue their dreams and instead, settled for what others expected them to do. In other words, they ignored balancing passion and personal growth at the behest of their other values.
Coming in at number two was never making time for friends and family. Excessive dedication to work can often lead a person to spend less time with their loved ones. This is one area of balance that might not only hurt you, but others, as well.
Life can definitely be a double-edged sword, and where one thing can get you, another thing can really get you. So, do yourself a favor and cut out some of your "holic" tendencies. Indulge in more things you value, but never get around to doing.
Introduce some true balance to your life. Go to the gym; take your loved one on a date; get out into nature with your friends or go on a vacation. If you need to spend a little extra time at work to get that promotion because you value hard work, then absolutely go for it.
One day, you will find yourself at the end of your life, only to realize that you never really lived, and you were never really happy.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It