Moving!

The new Internet address for this blog is: theartofbalance.online …… and the new name is “The Art of Balance: Stay Sane in an Insane World.” This move reflects a change not only in name, but also in focus. At a conference called Creativity and Madness in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I recently presented some of the concepts in my little book The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World. I realized,…

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Stuck? Find the bottleneck.

A few months ago, I took a business bootcamp course from Mirasee, an organization that helps build and scale businesses using a combination of audience-building strategies and online courses. The intention of the course designer and company founder, Danny Iny, was to teach participants how to jump start a business. I’m not sure, yet, whether the course will help me do that, but it’s already made a difference in how I approach problems…

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Dive Deep to Live Creatively

Creative activities—and the creative approach to life that often accompanies them—can help us better withstand the huffing and puffing of life’s Big Bad Wolf. Creative activities are rewarding outlets for self-expression. They give us a sense of accomplishment, often have a centering effect, and they’re usually fun to do. But besides these obvious benefits, creative activities can also enhance how we approach our lives. When we work creatively, we dive deep into ourselves.…

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Clean Up Your Cat Hairs!

Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay is desperate ground. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War Stress is one of the most insidious challenges to building resilience. It can be a constant strain on our natural balancing mechanism, gradually wearing down its efficacy and slowing its response time. Basic ways to reduce stress that therapists often recommend include changing your emotional relationship to the stressor…

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Stay Sane with the Personal Craziness Index

  To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War NOTE: This post is adapted from my new book The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World. I’m posting it here because it’s the key to staying balanced when the road gets rocky.  To stay sane in an insane world, we need to keep doing the things that keep us balanced. But if…

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A Mini-Lesson on Mini Self-Care

NOTE: This post is a one of many self-care practices in my new book The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World.  In the summer of 1979, after two of my roommates were mugged and I narrowly escaped the knife myself, I left Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant for parts unknown. I’d arrived in New York five years earlier with two books, two cameras, and a knapsack full of clothes, but by the time…

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The Art of Balance Cheat Sheet

To more widely distribute the ideas and practices in The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World, I’ve started to create supplements to the book. As I create them, I’m making them available to new subscribers, and I wanted to make sure that you get them, too. The first is The Art of Balance Cheat Sheet. This little booklet introduces the characters in The Art of Balance and walks the reader through how…

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The Cast of Characters

NOTE: I’ve been working with an illustrator on the characters in my forthcoming book on balance and thought you might be interested in what we’ve developed. Here’s the cast of characters and a brief introduction to them. Know thy self, know thy enemy. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War This is a book about balance: What disrupts it, what restores it, and how to keep it going. It is also a story,…

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Stay Sane with the Personal Craziness Index

To stay sane in an insane world, we need more than new tools and techniques. To maintain sanity, we also have to keep doing the things that got us there. The final piece of the resilience puzzle is to build Balancer-enhancing attitudes and practices into our daily lives, so they are as much a part of our routines as breathing. Then we keep watch to make sure we’re staying on track. When Balancer…

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Three Ways to Mix Mindfulness into Your Life

At the risk of stating the obvious, in order for Balancer to keep us balanced, it’s helpful to do activities that explicitly promote … balance. Mindfulness-based activities are at the top of the list. The term mindfulness, the state of being focused on the present moment, without judgement, has become part of the zeitgeist in the past several years, and for good reason. The benefits of mindfulness-based activities are physical, emotional, and psychological.…

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Handling Change, Part I:
Radical Acceptance and Self-Compassion

Emotional adaptability is the ability to respond to changing circumstances and events without being unduly shaken by these changes. It’s a Balancer characteristic and a key component of resilience. Those of us who are emotionally adaptable can bend with the wind, like saplings. Those of us who are less adaptable are likely to strain and crack as we struggle to maintain equilibrium. Emotional adaptability varies from person to person and can also be…

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Handling Change, Part II:
Forgiveness and Self-Forgiveness

Forgiveness and Self-Forgiveness Like acceptance and compassion, the ability to forgive ourselves and others can free us from what Romantic poet William Blake called “mind-forged manacles” – in this case, feelings such as anger, hatred, resentment, guilt, shame, and victimization. Liberation from these feelings through forgiveness can help us be more available in the present moment and more adaptable to its ever-changing conditions. Forgiveness, however is sometimes difficult to achieve. Some obstacles to…

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Handling Change, Part III:
Creative Approach and Experimental Attitude

Creative Approach Creative activities – and the creative approach to life that often accompanies them – can also help us become more emotionally adaptable. Creative activities are rewarding as outlets for self-expression. They feel good, they are centering, and they give us a sense of accomplishment. And they’re often fun! But besides these more obvious benefits, creative activities can also change the way we approach our lives. When we work creatively, we dive…

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How to Boost Connections and Support

For most of us, UnBalancer flourishes when we’re isolated. We are social animals, and separation from others weakens our ability not only to thrive, but sometimes even to survive. Ostracism – being ignored and excluded – threatens our basic need for belonging. In other mammals, being ostracized removes the individual from the protection of the pack and usually results in death from predators or starvation. Human beings are hard-wired to fear ostracism, so…

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How to Rebalance Your Brain in 3 Easy Steps

One of the most powerful resilience-building, Balancer-enhancing strategies is to consciously look for growth opportunities in experiences – to seek the silver lining in the cloud. Looking for the growth opportunity in the struggle makes it possible for us to find it. Difficulties become, as a friend of mine puts it, “just an AFGO – Another F***ing Growth Opportunity.” Thinking of struggles as AFGOs allows us to accept, in a tongue-in-cheek but still…

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Build Your Resilience in 6 Steps

  In recent posts, I’ve talked mostly about ReBalancer, the force that kicks in when our default stabilizer, Balancer, gets thrown out of whack by the UnBalancer. ReBalancer handles out-of-the ordinary stresses, but ReBalancer alone can’t keep us on an even keel. For that, we need Balancer to be healthy and strong. Balancer doesn’t ask us for much. Much like our immune systems, it chugs along on autopilot, making minor course corrections when…

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How to Design an Experiment

IMPORTANT: If you’re just tuning in now, click here for Part I, Balance: The Experiment and then come back here. This is Part II of a two-parter on using Experiments to keep your life on track.  Like any experimenter, when our ReBalancers design Experiments, they follow a sequence of steps. The implementation may be spontaneous or deliberate, but the steps are basically the same either way. Observe the current situation to see what needs…

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The Experiment

“We’ve never seen anything like this!” shouts the general to his cadre in the crowded Situation Room. An alien menace has humanity at its mercy. Nothing in our mighty arsenal has any effect against it. We will be dominated or destroyed within days … unless we apply Yankee ingenuity, create experiments that reveal our nemesis’s vulnerabilities, and find a way to exploit them. The unknown enemy and the heroic victory against it has…

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My Life in the Balance

NOTE: This is a guest post by Barrie Levine. If you are interested in doing a guest post on Balance or a related topic, please email me at david@davidbookbinder.com. During the two tough years of my husband’s illness, I lost my balance. Every consideration in my life was laser-focused on his well-being. I never doubted the vital importance of my full-time role as a caregiver; in fact, I considered it a gift to accompany…

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Hanging in the Balance

There once was a Zen monk who, while walking across a field, encountered a ferocious tiger. The tiger chased the monk across the field until he reached the edge of a high cliff. The monk’s only chance was to grab a vine that grew at the cliff’s edge and lower himself out of the tiger’s reach. As the monk hung from the vine, he saw that below him, another tiger was waiting. He…

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