DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life Balance, What is it?

One of the aims of this blogsite is to promote dialogue about aspects of living well, focusing on how human activity, or how people use their time, contributes to their happiness, health and well-being. When it comes to lifestyles, daily routines can be regular, predictable and peaceful, or they can be volatile, unpredictable and stressful. Most of us experience lives that show characteristics of each extreme. Which is better? Should we be striving for steady state, and what would that be like? Is the journey through life best viewed as a highway metaphor where we try to maintain a course in the middle? How do we define that "middle ground"?

An earlier post in this series alluded to balance, pointing out that Michelle Obama, the incoming first lady, sees work-family balance as an important public health and family issue. Because lives out of balance are typically stressful, imbalance can be said to contribute to illness and chronic diseases, as pointed out in the post on resilience.

Most people intuitively understand that regular, predictable, and stress-avoidant routines are related to their well being, and thus they have a personal view of what life balance means, or what type of lifestyle works best for them.

Eighteen months ago, I had the privilege of participating in an international conference in Canada that brought together scientists and other experts from many disciplines for a discussion about life balance from theoretical and scientific perspectives. Although there were many interesting ideas expressed about how to define, study and otherwise understand life balance, another perspective examined during the meeting was philosophical. Is life balance a valid concept, or is it just another name for similar "positive states"? For example, is it the same idea as "well being" or "quality of life" with just another name?

My view is that all three concepts have features in common. However, life balance seems unique because it focuses specifically on how activity is organized within a life to help us achieve the outcomes we desire. I surmise that there is no one "life activity formula" that works for everyone, but that a successful formula must include certain characteristics or reflect identified principles.

What is your idea of a balanced life? What lifestyle characteristics do you think social scientists should consider in studying this concept? I look forward to reading your posts.

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About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.