How to Achieve a Balanced Life to Find Happiness
Happiness comes from a balanced mix of what you have to do and what you want to do. In some Chinese restaurants, you can still order family style — choosing some items from Column A and others from Column B. Column A has the fancier, higher-priced dishes, and Column B has less costly but still tasty treats. It’s the combination of A and B that made the meal unique and memorable.
That’s the way life is, too. Some of your daily experiences are no doubt significant (being told you got a raise or completing a project on time) while other are less so (a stranger letting you go ahead of her in the checkout line at the grocery store). But they’re all part of what makes your day positive — they’re stepping stones to achieving happiness.
Column A pursuits
What’s on your agenda today? What are the have-to’s? You have to do this; you have to do that. You have to go here; you have to go there. You have to see him; you have to see her. These are the things you consider essential to your social and economic survival. Most likely, they include some combination of the following:
Going to the grocery store
Picking up the dry cleaning
Straightening up the house
Getting the car serviced
Making a deposit at the bank
Getting a haircut
Feeding the dog
Going to work
Supervising work being done on your home
Visiting a friend or family member in the hospital
Getting your flu shot
Taking your child to school
Picking your child up from school
Mowing the lawn
The more things you check off the list, the better you feel at the end of the day. You’ve met the basic necessities of everyday life. You’re surviving, but are you thriving? Not unless your day also includes some Column B pursuits.
Look over the list of Column A pursuits and check those that are on your to-do list today — and add any others that you have to do. This gives you a picture of just how structured your day is and what that structure looks like. Do you like what you see?
Column B pursuits
Think of Column B pursuits as your hidden agenda. Column B is all about want-to’s: You want to do that; you want to go there; you want to see her. Think of this as the icing on the cake. Of course, you can live life without them, but they sure make life a lot sweeter!
Consider the following examples:
Sitting quietly and reading the paper before you start your day
Filling up the bird-feeder so you can enjoy the comings and goings of your feathered friends
Taking a leisurely walk around the block
Meeting a friend for lunch
Watching children at play
Having a quiet moment of prayer
Spending some quality time with your child after school
Reading the comics
Checking out a new clothing store
Chatting with your next-door neighbor at the mailbox
Taking a catnap
These are the little things that spice up your day. Use them to fill in the cracks between Column A pursuits — for example, meeting a friend for lunch in between picking up the dry cleaning and having the tires rotated.
How many Column B–type things did you do today? Chances are you had fewer Column B experiences than ones that fall under Column A. If your life is full of Column A pursuits and short on Column B, restructure your day to make it look more like a Chinese menu — with choices from both columns.