We live in a hyper-capitalist world, never disconnected from information and things to consume to solve our discontentment. An alternative way of living does exist, that benefits not only your soul, but the soul of others and the planet. This is balance. Balance is the cornerstone of contentment. When one achieves it, everything else falls into place.
This is an article that details my experience of achieving balance after moving out of the city. I do think London is the greatest metropolis is the world, it gave me so many things that I’m grateful for, but I also found myself falling out of love with it towards the end of my tenure. In moving out of the city, I was able to reconnect with parts of my persona that I had buried/never knew existed, and in doing so, I was able to solve problems that had plagued me for years.
I initially moved down to London to build a new career from scratch and to find a partner. I am grateful to have achieved both of these whilst I was there. Whilst they were a focus, I was happy to concentrate fully on them. The problem was that without knowing it, I had built a routine that became monotonous and focused solely on work, I’m not alone in this. In fact, I know many friends in the city who are in the same position. When I became aware of the issue, I tried to break it, but I struggled due to work commitments and also to the physical space I had available to me. After many years of this, and deteroriating mental health, I decided to move out of London, and it’s one of the best decisions I made. This is because it woke parts of my personality that were not able to exist in a metropolis where space is limited and connections to anything other than work are much harder to materialise. It also helped slow me down. Cities are speed merchants, whether that’s the speed that people walk/talk/work, everything is at maximum, which is encapsulating to begin, but after time, your tank begins to deplete. I knew it was time to leave.
I began buying old Ercol furniture to restore from Gumtree, and having space to buy an estate, meant I could collect it and enjoy the journey of meeting the owners of the pieces I purchased. I had a large garden where I could sit uninterrupted and practice meditation and qi-gong. I was closer to family and old friends which was massive, as I didn’t feel lonely. I was also around people who didn’t work as hard as me and led simpler, yet more rewarding lives. There was space to try growing our own food, to have bird feeders and to meet the local cats, foxes, frogs and woodpeckers. I purchased an old Volvo and with the help of my cousin, learnt the basics of mechanics. I was also closer to wilder nature, and could drive into complete solitude in 20 minutes. What was most striking is that most of my new hobbies were exactly that, completely new, I had no experience whatsoever. This is the fun part of it, learning new skills and putting your love into something and seeing the results.
My life had suddenly become balanced and in the process richer, more peaceful, calmer and enjoyable. I still enjoy my work, but find it easier to stop rather than burning out, for there are so many other parts to relish. When you pursue new ideas and new interests, it also gives you a new lease of life for work. Everything in the system works together in harmony, if you follow moderation.
Is the planet out of balance, because we as a collective are out of balance?
I certainly think so. The irony is that humans are destroying their own back yard, the soils that grow the food we need for nourishment, the seas we need for food, I could go on. The planet won’t change until we all start to make changes, no matter how small they are. The more people are out of balance, overworking and overconsuming to compensate, the more the planet suffers. Our excuse is that we don’t have time to think about these things, but every revolution has to start somewhere, no matter how small. There is a greater obsession with self image, status and money. Especially with Instagram and other social apps highlighting photos that generate the most engagement. The problem with this is that again reinforces the idea of inadequacy, which in turn drives consumption, exactly what companies like FB and Instagram optimise for, so they can make more profit. The more humans become balanced and at peace with themselves, the less we will overconsume, the quicker the planet will heal and become balanced. Balance affects everything in our ecosystem, it’s as if it is an unwritten law.
Commoditisation of everything
Generations previously were forced to learn how to do more practical tasks. Whether it be fixing cars, DIY, knitting or other life skills. As unregulated technology has increased working hours, and the time we spend ‘wired’ on, it means we have less time to do these practical tasks. It may be useful and feel instantly great to order someone to do your wallpapering and painting, it doesn’t however, feel satisfying long term. You haven’t learn skills or the behaviours that accompany it. You can learn more about that here.
Overcommitting (using mortgages as an example)
Mortgages allow people to purchase their first home which is wonderful. The danger we don’t see with capitalism, is that we sometimes borrow or push ourselves to the limits, not giving ourselves space for life events to occur, such as Brexit or the Pandemic. When these things do hit, values are suddenly hit, and your left wondering how you will pay for your mortgage if you lose your job. If you can buy things you can afford to buy, rather than borrowing to the max, you give yourself a buffer should life events occur that put you in tricky situations. Again, living in balance is the motto here.
How can I live more in balance?
- Carve out specific time away from your devices to think about where your life could be more balanced
- Work out where the majority of your energy goes, can this be better balanced
- Mindmap what you’d love to have a go at doing if you had more space and time
- Take a small step towards one of these new things, even if it’s getting a book or talking to someone you know who is interested in the same thing
- Think about your energy types, is everything you're doing on, on, on? Try doing something to slow down
Philosophers have talked about balance for centuries
“Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” Epicurus
“The balance of society is a balance of a thousand insanity’s” - Ralph Waldo Emerson