How Finding Work-Life Balance Can Be Physically Beautiful

October 1, 2013

A physician takes a break to explore nature and considers a quality of work-life balance that she hadn't considered before.

This past weekend, I was at a conference by myself and went exploring one afternoon. I drove to a county park on the water. 

I parked along the road and went exploring the “natural trails,” which is another way of describing a trail from which it can be really hard to find your way back to your car. As I descended through the thick foliage, I came upon a rocky beach that bordered the bright blue lake. In either direction, previous travelers constructed rock towers - each stone balanced precariously but firmly enough to stay standing. It was a beautiful sight, made better by the dozens of towers - each unique, each carefully constructed, and each left behind for future adventurers. 

These rock towers were beautiful - not always symmetrical or perfectly aligned, but beautiful in the way they stood against the deep blue water. It made me consider a quality of work-life balance that I haven’t considered before. Balance is beautiful. Achieving balance with a carefully placed rock or with careful attention to each appointment and task is a thing of beauty, constructed with skill. 

Balance is innately attractive to the human mind. It appeals to us the same way symmetry, coordination, and harmony appeal to us. It seems to pluck a chord deep in our soul that resonates crisply and clearly and makes our hearts sigh with contentment. Okay, so that’s a little deep for a blog on work-life balance, but you get the drift.

Being along the lake shore, enjoying the stony sculptures, I realized that beyond all the other benefits of work-life balance lies one that I previously did not consider. When things fit harmoniously together - and when the give and take between not only my professional and personal life but also between my physical and mental selves, activity and rest, and the yin and yang, if you will - is met,  there is a deep, soul-level satisfaction.

So what’s the take-home practical application here? Only this - we recognize the beauty of balance and symmetry in all types of art. It is the balance of a suspenseful novel and a neat ending, the balance of shadow and light in an oil painting, and the balance of notes in a symphony. It should, therefore, be no wonder that something inside of us is jarred by imbalance in our life, similar to the wrong note played during a familiar song, the ending to a story that forgets to tie up a plot line, or proportions that are slightly off in a piece of realism. 

This tells me that our need for balance is much deeper than a practical piece of advice or as a stepping stone to improved efficiency. It is something we need, something for which we are designed, and something that makes us uncomfortable when we lack it.