Don’t let another season pass you by.
--- Tagline of a bed-and-breakfast agency on Maryland’s Eastern Shore
If you can’t find any good reason to take time for yourself, try this one: When you haven’t had time to find balance, you are likely to attach to negative emotions and then become unable to extricate yourself from the negative moods they generate.
This natural human tendency to over-focus on negative emotions is supported by research on cognition and emotion. Douglas Derryberry of Oregon State University and colleagues found that when we experience negative emotions, we construct a filter that rules out all other thoughts except those encoded in the negative emotional event.
Why do we do this? To seek information that renders our environment more controllable and understandable.
Living your life at balance, then, requires you to be proactive not in managing the stress you feel (which can be counterproductive in that it enables you to increase your tolerance to—and experience of—stress) but in generating less stress to tolerate.
It requires you to acknowledge that while you feel your life is out of balance when you feel stress, you also feel stress because your life is out of balance. Stress and a lack of balance, then, collectively degenerate into a vicious spiral that detaches you from your authentic self.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).