Saturday, March 14, 2015

Balance. Balance.

Humans are complex creatures. A multitude of different authors have created lists that they believe encapsulate the various dimensions of our lives, needs, and desires. The most famous is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Starting with the necessities of life such as food, water, and air; the list then progresses to safety, then love and belonging, then to self esteem, and finally self actualization. Some might term self actualization peace with God or others might use the term enlightenment. Just for today, consider the complexity of your own needs, goals, and dreams. Then ask yourself, “How am I doing in this area?”

The Catholic philosopher and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin observed, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Whether you choose to believe it—or just entertain the idea as a potentially useful metaphor, consider the three dimensions of our being; body, soul, and spirit.

Look at your body. Mine isn’t as pretty as it was 45 years ago, but it is still serving me well. Am I giving my body what it needs? I am doing pretty well with exercise and sleep. I am not doing so well with diet. Before starting this post, I gobbled down two ham, egg, and cheese biscuits. I know I could do better, but I like breakfast biscuits, particularly when they are on sale. If I am ever going to achieve my weight loss goal, I will have to improve my diet. It is an area of my life that needs work if I am ever going to achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle.

Soul has been defined as mind, will, and emotion. Are you developing your mind, making yourself a more valuable commodity in the marketplace, a better educated more attentive, conscious, aware human being? Spend a minute or two meditating on the following passage.

Proverbs 4:

5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”

We don’t know what it is, but we know that there is something more. What does it all mean? Most of us, even some pretty hard-boiled agnostics, are at least curious about the possibility of experiencing the transcendent. Are you a spiritual being? If your answer is, “Yes.” are you following a spiritual path? Are you practicing the disciplines and fulfilling the obligations of your tradition? Are you actually doing those things that you believe will bring you closer to God or enlightenment or whatever you think might be out there that might help you achieve self actualization? Are you studying the scriptures? Are you praying or meditating or practicing some kind of ritual on a regular basis? Are you worshiping with and learning from others on the same path? If you say you are a spiritual person but you are not doing spiritual things, you are kidding yourself.

We all have a way to go on this one. I haven’t met any ascended masters—yet, but I am privileged to know a few believers who have climbed to heights that I have not yet experienced. Several years ago, one of these people, burdened with guilt, felt the need to confess his sins to me. It was one of those moments when I found myself on Holy ground. His deeply honest, heartfelt confession was more like the confession of an eight year old child than a grown man with a family and serious professional responsibilities. I felt a little like Isaiah when he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Take a half hour, sit down and construct your quality of life list. Include your physical health, the components of your social life, your psychological wellbeing, and since this is a personal finance blog; ask how your inner homo economicus is faring.

Jim Rohn observes, “Goals are like magnets.” It is a good analogy. Just like goals, big powerful magnets will exert a greater power on an object than weak little magnets. An object that is aligned with the poles of a magnet will experience a greater force at the same distance when compared with an object that is out of alignment with the poles of the magnet. Goals that are congruent with our inner values will exert a greater power than goals that conflict with our real self. I doubt if Jim Rohn knows that in most cases the strength of a magnet field declines as the cube of the distance from the magnet. This means the strength of a field two feet from an object will only be 1/8 as strong as the field at one foot. A goal that is too distant will not exert much force on our every day life.

If you see any area on your list that could use some work, come up with a measurable goal that will help you achieve a balanced healthy lifestyle. Start with the area that hurts the worst.

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