I’m sure you’ve heard enough times your life should be “balanced”. You should search for your inner balance and so on…
But WTF does that even mean? To this day I have no idea 🙂 After many years of trying to get any type of balance right, it turned out it’s quite hard to get the ends of the line right.
The balance is the easy part, the getting-to-know-what-you’re-balancing-between, that’s the real deal. Because if you copy the extreme ends from society, you’re copying social rules like most people and nothing beautiful or special in your life won’t come out of it.
Then it turned out to my huge surprise there are many cases the fringe extreme ends (one or both) are the best place to be and the balance/middle can get you wrecked. Once I kicked the harmful idea of life-balance-at-all-cost out of my head, I started seeing these everywhere.
The notion of balance in our society is so relevant that most people can’t even think about balance being a bad thing. But there is nothing in the universe, in physics, math, or logic that tells us balance is sacred, it would go against the complexity of life and society. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it doesn’t really matter. Like most things in life 🙂
To understand when to seek balance at all, we must understand spaces, and then spectrums.
The Game of Life takes place in space, the universe.
Most of it takes place on Earth, a smaller, finite space.
Our brain, where The Game of Self plays, is also a space.
So understanding spaces is important, just as much as understanding time. So what are the rules of spaces?
Well, they really have 3 special things before talking about structures in them, which is another thing entirely.
- A space has size. This is interesting in the context of how much stuff you can fit in before it’s full.
- A space has a reaction when overcrowding, it can eject best/worst/old/new/small/big stuff or block or self-destruct.
It’s very important to understand spaces because your head is a space and (not many) thoughts and emotions fight for it at any given point in time. This leads to the all-important principle you’ll see in a lot of posts regarding The Game of Self:
If you don’t want to think about something, think about something else.
- Spaces have dimensions and those dimensions can have a direction, some inherent property that changes when you advance via the space in the direction.
From now on we’ll call these dimensions “spectrums” and we’ll have a lot of them to look at.
Let’s look at a typical spectrum:
You’re alone in the evening and you order a pizza from a new place, it turns out to be huge. How many pieces of the delicious pizza in front of you should you eat?
This is a spectrum where balance holds true. Too few – you stay hungry. Too many – you overeat. Both are unacceptable so you stay balanced. Nothing new here. Let’s continue.
You eat half the pizza and you’re full. Next day you’re traveling and the pizza will be dry by then anyway. You have 2 options: Throw it away or go down/up 5 stairs from your apartment to leave it for some homeless person to happily find.
Throwing it away is the easier option and people who just ate a lot of pizza like easier decisions more than stairs so in 10 seconds the other half of the pizza is in your rubbish bin for good. Probably not your favorite decision and soon second thoughts about your morality and self-worth start creeping in.
Now here is a much more interesting spectrum:
How many fucks should you give about what you just did?
Now there is no easy answer but I can tell you the worst amount of fucks: the balanced amount 🙂
Too little and you let it go. What’s done is done, maybe next time you’ll make the effort, life moves on. Nothing wrong with what you’ve done here. You can use the 5 minutes you saved in a lot of ways, which may benefit the world in different ways. No one can tell if possibly cheering a homeless guy with a semi-fresh, not-so-healthy pizza is better or worse than investing this time in another way. End of story. No big deal for The Game of Life or The Game of Self from your perspective.
Too much and you decide you’ll order 3 more oversized pizzas and then spend half an hour to bring them personally to a local homeless shelter where the warm and fuzzy feelings from your actions make you feel amazing. Of course, the homeless people would much prefer this one but we’re looking from your perspective for the moment. Let’s access results.
The Game of Life result depends on was your time and money spent is worth it, compared to the result, which is a bit relative, depending on your time’s worth.
If you’re some investment banker making $1000 an hour, it can be argued that working half an hour, making $500, and donating them for supplying food to African kids dying from hunger is even better than what you did. But for most people, it will be a near-best use of their time and money to do something so good for others and society. You’re the best 🙂
Even better, The Game of Self result is spectacular. You feel great, a real human connection happened on a lonely evening and you made a hunter move, that may well lead to other beautiful acts in the future.
So we can access the ends of the spectrum now:
No fucks given – you’re good.
Enough fucks given – you’re the best!
Now for the medium amount of fucks given… Well, you spend a slightly guilty evening at home and no homeless person gets to eat any pizza 🙁 Also, you made a sheep decision which may lead to other such decisions in the future.
Most spectrums in life about the number of fucks given looks exactly like this one:
Some stuff you cannot change and you should (for a good Game of Self) give zero fucks (golden rule!).
Some you can and if it’s worth it, you should give enough for the change to happen. But you can also give zero and focus your energy elsewhere, this is better than the balance, I can assure you. It’s sometimes a hunter’s move to not care if the issue isn’t critical. It can be a form of life growth as we care way too much about a lot. But to care and not do anything is the classic sheep move, the worst of the worst for the present and future. And this hell comes with balance, a trap that may require you to get mad to get out of 🙂
People may think that caring moderately is the precursor of caring enough but this is only true if external pressure is also applied to nudge you to the right amount of fucks. This happens:
- When your life is dynamic and much randomness occurs to break the sheep cycles fast:
- When you have strong connections with friends and family who see the situation and engage with it;
If left to yourself, you’ll likely be stuck in the sheep cycle and won’t ever use the amount of fucks productively for real change, instead you’ll be stuck with a serious Game of Self problem.
Not understanding the spectrum’s type, limitations for a breakthrough or lack of (A Game of Life problem) can seriously compound the problem. Not knowing what to do and not having the strength to do it are differently rooted problems.
And finally, we have countless spectrums where clearly all the joy is at one end.
How much empathy (Game of Self) should we have? I’d say as much as possible. Our actions (Game of Life) may or may not follow it because of circumstances but to have it cannot be too much and way too often is too little.
How many bioweapons (deadly viruses created for a case of war) should we have on earth, capable of destroying the human race? I’d say exactly zero. There is no case they will be useful in any way and maybe even more dangerous to handle than nuclear weapons.
I can overload you with countless spectrums that destroy the concept of balance completely. But there is no real need because the other posts are full of them. Forget our posts, your life is full of them. You’ll start seeing them everywhere if you haven’t already. You’ll also spot tons of Game of Self problems in the lives of others are clearly because they don’t give the right amount of fucks on a given thing. So this surely has to be addressed. And indeed even memes address it 🙂
However… self-help advice widely uses the bullshittery word “balance” as a magical positive word.
The word “balance” has just one exact meaning and people are taking it literally – everything quantifiable (spectrums) should be around the middle. This is how brains and language work. They think of the pizza but it applies to everything in the background, including the number of fucks.
Self-help advice focuses on The Game of Self and in The Game of Self, the main quantifiable thing is the amount of fucks given.
By implying that somehow the best amount of everything is always in the middle when all evidence (hell, even memes) says it’s usually not for your single most important Game of Self case, is not just irresponsible, it’s harmful to individuals and society.
When using a word regularly you plant a seed in people’s brains, just like in the masterpiece Inception. It requires a special kind of responsibility and a deep understanding of psychology to not let people down if you’re writing to the world. I’m not sure I have them personally so I have editors and fact-checkers, including ones educated in the field.
So where is the place for the overhyped balance? Mostly when you have ordered an oversized pizza 🙂 While tempted by the universal human desire for simplifying, you cannot have a one-size-fits-all solution for spaces and spectrums. Because they are just different.
If you know someone who misunderstands life balance, you can share this with them. It’s a hunter move 🙂