Playing with Balance: Part 1 – Our Inner and Outer Worlds

Creating more balance in our lives means getting in touch with our inner and outer worlds.

The other day I was chatting online with a friend of mine who’s a freelance art curator living in Berlin. (Yes, she has a fabulous life!) After doing the usual catch-up, we got around to the issue of finding more balance in our respective lives. My friend’s enviable gripe? “Balancing life in Berlin is tough ’cause there’s always 10 things going on every night that are all fantastic! Then there’s work which could take all my life if I let it, and my partner who’s important to me…it’s a challenge!” Even though she and I have vastly different lives, I nodded wholeheartedly in agreement, regaling her with my own tales of trying to make time for jogging, work, school, and, um, snagging a date. It made me realize that no matter where we live or what we do, chances are that most of us can use a bit more balance in our day-to-day lives.

Talking the talk

It’s certainly something that everyone seems to be talking about in the media, regardless of the type of publication. From women’s and men’s mags to Al Jazeera and spirituality zines, there are tons of opinions floating around for the best way to find balance.

I like to let go of what everyone else is telling me and get back to my inner truth. What do I need/want more and less of in my life? Starting from within and working outwards always seems to put me on the right path. In part 1, I’ll talk about creating a happy equilibrium both inside and out, since one always impacts the other, while in part 2 on this fun topic, I’ll show you my own personal practice for balancing life and how it can be tailored to meet everyone’s individual needs.

Starting from within and working outwards helps us find our own truth and freedom.

The inner and outer realms of life

Creating a well-oiled life that satisfies all facets of our complex selves can, understandably, be a bit tricky. To my eyes, there are two realms we need to consider when creating more balance for ourselves: the inner and the outer.

Our inner world consists of emotions, thoughts, spirituality, and overall sense of self. A balanced inner world might look like feeling grounded; being mentally and emotionally centered; and connecting energetically with our surroundings and selves.

Our outer world, on the other hand, includes everything tangible in our lives – the areas where stuff actually happens. This might look something like: work, play, social, community, romance, and hobbies. While everyone’s outer and inner worlds will look unique, they’ll also have overlying similarities since we all have the same basic emotional and physiological needs.

Our inner world affects our outer world and vice versa. This means that in order to find balance in our everyday lives, we need to make sure we’re balanced in our inner worlds first. When we’re centered within, it’s much easier to cope with anything that happens outside of us, out there in the ‘real’ world. Picture a blade of grass, or wheat, that blows in the wind. It bends rather than breaks, no matter how hard the gust blows. This is what we want to create on the inside: mental and emotional stability which allows us to react flexibly to external input.

Everyone in our lives is affected by how balanced we are, too. Family members, friends, and partners all benefit when we’re able to bounce from moment to moment maintaining our inner balance. As our inner balance manifests into outer balance, relationships continue to improve as we naturally shift our priorities to spending more time doing things we enjoy, whether its people, hobbies, or work.

By looking at the fundamentals of both realms, we can begin to assess their impact on us and make adjustments according to what we desire more or less of. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to how we choose to shape our lives – no perfect number of hours to work per week, or to devote to exercise, or to reserve for family. It all comes down to what works best for you.

Balancing our inner and outer worlds naturally creates a sense of peace.

Personality types

Another neat subject to consider when delving into balance is our personality type! There are many different ways to explore this fascinating subject. You can take online tests, do a bit of personal research, or just inquire within as to what you feel are your defining qualities and characteristics. I’m a textbook introvert. This means that I need a lot of time by myself in order to feel grounded and to gather energy for social activities. When I’m planning my schedule for optimum balance, I need to always remember to leave a lot of calendar space for quiet time alone. This is something I always manage to underestimate! As conservative as I am with the number of social nights I book, I often end up cancelling a few just because I need to chill out.

On the flip side, extroverts need an abundance of social time to increase their energy; too much down time will leave these social butterflies feeling deflated. Of course, many people fall somewhere in between extroversion and introversion, so be honest with yourself about what you need to function at your best and to feel the most peaceful. Creating more balance in our lives is really just a chance to look deeper into our own personalities, needs, and desires.

Making time for play

To finish off this first part, I want to touch on the importance of play. Most of us can use a bit more of this in our lives. There is lots of proof that play is a great asset for creativity and problem-solving. I know that whenever I make time to run through the sprinkler, blow bubbles, or dance like a the crazy person I am, I am better for it. Every time. I linked to this above, but I’m doing it again because it’s so good: 99 ideas for ‘artist dates’, otherwise known as Play Dates in my world! This is based on the ideas in the great book, The Artist’s Way, which is a great read no matter how un-artistically inclined you may be. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely said, “it is a happy talent to know how to play.”

Making time for play feels freeing! Photo by Sachie Tsuyuki.

I’ll leave you today with a challenge: pick one artist date from the link above and commit to going on it! I’ve picked number 22 for myself – collecting pretty flowers and pressing them in a heavy book. My grandmother used to do this. I remember rifling through her pages of dried, pastel-coloured flowers which had literally become two dimensional over time. I love this idea so much because it brings me back to being a kid, connecting me to my roots.

Stay tuned for part two when we dig deeper into this topic, and I reveal my own personal practice for exploring balance in life.

Enjoy your artist date!