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An example of a balanced life.

The example we give is not only of a firmly anchored life; it should also be of a properly balanced life.

Anchors provided by core values, a lifelong personal mission, and a vision or dream to achieve in a distant but fixed future, give to our life and work the necessary moorings, which secure us against drifting away when buffeted by the stormy and other inclement conditions of life. But we need more than moorings: we also have to ensure that the boat with which we navigate through life has proper balance; all its different facets need to be properly attended to; none can be disregarded for any length of time; and each one has to be given due care and its proper attention.

The different facets of our personal life that we need to take good care of are the following:

* Those arising from our duties towards our own self. We need to take proper care of our body, our mind, and our spirit, which gives us the capacity to work. We have the duty of physical wellness with regard to our body; the duty of education and culture for our mind. Moreover, we have the duty of professional development, which entails obtaining the skills, aptitudes, and expertise with which to work and serve the others.

* Those arising from our duties towards others and the environment. Our social relations and inter-action with others impose social duties, starting with those we owe to our family. We also have the duty of observing economic and financial discipline as well as of improving the over-all environment, including having to secure its long-term sustainability.

* Those arising from our duties towards God. We have religious duties, which also enjoin us to live a moral and ethical life. These duties call on us to be observant of all laws, promulgated by legitimate authority, including all reasonable laws for the common welfare coming from civil and Church authorities.

A balanced life is one where we strike the proper proportion we actually observe in attending to all these manifold duties. It is up to each one of us to determine where to strike the balance; but it is necessary that we do not disregard or omit giving due importance to each one of these facets. In other words, we are free to decide what is proper for us, provided that we omit no single facet or reduce anyone facet to total irrelevance. Prudence, however, suggests that we consult a friend or a mentor as we make such a fateful decision as determining the due importance we give to each of the facets of our life.

In trying to give an example of a properly balanced life, we need to be transparent to our friends and very close colleagues about the imperatives of trade-offs and intensity.

Trade-offs are necessary because we have only limited time. There are only 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day. Thus, what time we set aside to take care of one set of duties would be time taken away from attending to other duties. We therefore have to be aware of two extremes: spending far too much time on one facet, and of spending too little time on others.

Experience tells us that we need to be much more intense in the time and effort we set aside to take care of one or two facets. The efficiency principle kicks in: to extract maximum benefit from the limited time we are able to put in. This is a permanent challenge we need to keep confronting, dynamically and creatively, as we seek to live a properly balanced life.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:May 28, 2014
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