What Does it Mean to Have a Balanced Life?

What does it mean to have a balanced life?

People have been talking about 'balance' since ancient times, when philosophers were trying to work out the definition of 'good life' and 'happy life'. For example, Plato said that people should try to fulfil the requirements of mind, body and spirit, without taking away from the needs of each other part.

More recently, social scientists and other authors have studied the impacts when people concentrate too much on a particular area of their life. Lots of studies have looked into 'work - life' balance - what happens to individuals and their families when they spend too much time at work. Medical researchers have looked into the best way to 'balance' a diet, or how to hit the right combination of diet and exercise.

The problem with these pieces of information is that they're rarely brought together. For example, nutrition researchers might come up with a good diet, but it's not provided to people along with realistic tips on how to afford all the ingredients, how to shop and cook after a long work day, or how to adapt the food into recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

There's one definition of 'balance' that covers it all - the holistic one. As the World Health Organization's description of ' health' shows - "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1 In other words, to have a balanced life you've got to strive to be as physically, mentally and socially well as possible. And that can't happen if you neglect your diet, exercise, sleep, family life, social life - the list goes on.

There are so many different things to take into account when it comes to a balanced life, but perhaps think of it as a wheel. If your ‘wheel of life’ is not balanced, it’ll be an odd shape, and won’t be able to keep turning and moving you forward.

1 Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946 and entered into force on 7 April 1948.