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For so many individuals a balanced life has become as elusive as catching a cloud. Society's pressures and stresses have moved people away from being in balance with themselves and their surrounding and into a frantic position of constant - and often needless - motion. People have become spinning tops caught in a perpetual state of inertia.


Relaxation even has to be scheduled! What does that say about our view of life and of ourselves? Balance is not something that one does on a mat for a few hours a week, it is a way of life. Prioritizing one's health, family, love, contentment, and living in the now, are all important elements of balance. How can one feel balanced when he or she is always looking at what needs to be done in the future and...when they have not really lived in the present?

What happens if the future doesn't come? Will you have spent your "nows" ignoring their importance for the sake of something that never happened? That doesn't mean that a person shouldn't plan for the future. But...it does mean that he or she shouldn't be obsessed by it. 

To be balanced, at least by my standards, also means to understand the difference between "working to live" and "living to work." It means looking at what's around you and understanding that it could change at any time and that you should "take it all in" and enjoy it. In addition, it is an ability to create a "level plane" for yourself, so that you don't get too high with the "highs" or low with the "lows." And - to be able to laugh robustly - especially at yourself, as well as recognize how to put life in perspective. Plus...it takes a realization that life is always changing. That's just inherent in the state of existence.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that (and I've said this many times before) we create our on constructs, then...often live by them, stress over them, and lose sight of what's truly worthwhile in being alive on this planet. The secret is actually not a secret at all...it's staring you in the face. It's in every person you see, love, and care about. It's recognizing that those you love and who love you in return want you around and not some fancy toy in your stead. It's the mountains, rivers, streams, and sky. It's everything in the universe. And...it's admiring all that while you're here - not letting it pass you by in the humdrum of running around as you focus on what can be, as opposed to what is. 

Balance is enjoying now. Knowing that each now will never be here again. Balance may include planning, but...it's overwhelmingly about being present every moment of your life.
 
Here are 7 ways to make your life happier. And...you can start doing them immediately.

1. Let go of the past.
It has already let go of you, although you may not realize it. There's no way to change what's happened, so let go of it like a feather in the wind. If you do that...it will float away harmlessly and free you from its shackles.

2. Don't take yourself too seriously.
There's more to life than the next deal, the perfect look, or being the one who must keep a certain decorum to appear professional. What does that mean anyway? You'll find that people will relate better to you when you are less serious. And...it will make you feel less encumbered.

3. Stop thinking that you have to be right (or always are).
Listening to others with an open mind will help you grow and learn...and will enable you to lessen the anguish of needing to be correct (even if you're not). It's much easier to be relaxed (and happy) when you're not constantly fighting in order to prove your point.

4. Love yourself.
You're all you've got. So...why not love the person that you are. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't grow and strive for new and exciting things. However, there's a certain happiness you get from knowing that you're ok. Love starts within and works its way out. When people see that you're happy with yourself and love who you are, you'll find that you'll feel better and...attract happier people as well!

5. Take a step in a new direction.
People get stuck. It happens all the time. Routines become - well...routine. When you are caught in doing the same things over and over again, it often leads to stagnation, a lack of motivation, and sometimes depression.
There's plenty to do that's new. Change the place where you go to lunch (or even the lunch itself), go to a concert, read something you normally wouldn't, or...even change your job (or at least the tasks within it). Do new. It's bound to expand your boundaries and...make you happier!

6. Play with friends.
Yea...that's what I said. Get your friends together and play! You can do that by going out to eat, sitting and watching a TV show in your living room (just make sure you create lots of interaction), having a pick-up game, or a cookout. But - play! You can bet that they'll be lots of smiling, happiness and good feelings.

7. Laugh.
Laughter is one of those things that makes your entire being feel great. And...there's plenty to laugh at. First, there's yourself. As I like to say, "Those who can't laugh at themselves will never know true happiness." A good belly laugh is one of life's "ups." But...you already know that. Now, you just have to do it with regularity! If you think about some of the absurdities of life (including those things that you've allowed to block your happiness) you will never run out of things to laugh about!

 
I must say...I laugh a lot. I guess it all started with my dad. He was a very funny man. That led to me taking his lead and becoming a joke/funny story teller, my high school class' "class clown," then a stand-up  comic and writer, the soldier that other guys in my company wanted to ride along with to keep things light and in perspective, a man of many voices on morning radio here in Philly, and on to just a guy who enjoys injecting humor into his keynote speeches and (when in the role of professor) his class discussions .

I find humor in everything from Anthony Bourdain (on the travel channel), to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (on the comedy channel), to real news shows (yep...that's right, our news is, more often than not...a bit askew), to the comedies on the "silver screen" (no horror flicks for me...gimme a belly laugher any day), to the absurdities of life (including myself, my life, and some of the things I do - geez, if you can't laugh at yourself, how can you laugh at others). Life, and the things we humans do in it, is often so bizarre that I have to laugh at it. The clothes we wear, the vehicles we drive, the things we think are important (and really - to me anyway - aren't), make me laugh. Sometimes I'll be driving along the highway, look out my window, see a ridiculous vehicle and just start laughing. I know that we live in a comedy show. I see it everyday in real life.

If I took half the stuff seriously that "they" want us to...I think I'd have to regurgitate my lunch.
Look around and you tell me whether or not you believe that most of the things people do aren't worth, at least, a chuckle. The political process we're going through now is, if you honesty look at it, extremely funny (although some may call it sad). I choose to laugh at the absurdity. The same goes for some of the other things we think are "stuff to be serious about."

Break it all down and...they're mostly made up. Some by "madmen" and some by others who genuinely want to help people. But - we live in a mental construct. Of course...there are lots of things that I take very seriously. Nothing is more horrible than people being hurt or worse (either physically or mentally). However...it's the rest, that when looked at honestly, is basically a game. And, all too often, a funny one.

So...here's some advice. Laugh more, don't take things too seriously. Start by laughing at yourself. Then, move on to the world around you. Pretty soon you'll find that you're less stressed, feeling better, enjoying the humorous (new) side of life, and not worried about a lot of the things that used to drive you nuts. And...you'll also recognize that laughter is great medicine! Oh yea...you can start with the ads on TV for those other medications.