How to Keep Your Balance in a World of Extremes

In or out. Up or down. Right, left; black, white; early bird or night owl. Our world is full of opposites. Some even repel each other, like oil and water.

And this is true in our society too.  Whether it's politics, economics, religion, or even diet, we can find those at the far opposite ends of any spectrum.

Balanced Rock, Arches Nat'l Park, Utah, USA

Why balance is desirable 

While exploring all ideas and possibilities can be exciting and enlightening, it can also lead to confusion, strife, and even hatred. Too often, we're egocentric – seeing only our personal point of view.

Trying to see and understand different perspectives is valuable for developing empathy, resolving conflicts, and generating new ideas. It's the way to overcome bias and find balance.

But humans struggle to find the happy medium. We always seem to live at one extreme or the other.

The endless search for more

For example, many people are motivated by desire. They strive to get the most they can, what they're "entitled to," the biggest bang for the buck. Buy one get one? I'm there! 25% off? Lead me to it. Rebate with purchase? Tell me how.

This isn't a matter of deciding "What do I need?" but "How much can I get?" as in:

  • What's the biggest mortgage I can qualify for?
  • How can the dealer work it so I can get into a fancier car?
  • I keep adding to my ultimate bucket list.  After all, you only live once!

And it might all look feasible on paper, with a carefully edited and parsed budget or pro/con list. But there's no margin, every bump in the road is an "emergency," and every new desire is a justifiable "need," as in "I just need more closets/a bigger house/a new wardrobe/a faster gadget/my next trip!"

The list of desires never ends.

The other extreme

Then there are those who perhaps grew up with true deficits in their lives. They're also lured by sales and deals, but the motivation is fear and a feeling of lack.

They're always trying to pare costs. They buy the cheapest item, even if it's junk. They never feel they have enough saved for their potential needs, so they're afraid to be generous or adventurous.

People with this mindset envy anyone who seems to have it "easy." They're forever adding multiples, because "you never know."  They keep everything that comes their way, "just in case."

And so we have greed and entitlement on one side, and fear, hoarding, and envy on the other. Both groups of people wind up with tons of clutter. Both waste their resources of time and energy (and maybe money too), and neither is happy, satisfied, or at peace.

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Enter: minimalism

Here's where minimalism comes in to meet the challenge of finding the delicate balance between these two extremes – the point where needs and wants are recognized as two different things, and priorities and preferences become clear. 

Minimalism seeks the perfect Goldilocks-approved point where there's just enough, but not too much:

  • the right-size house
  • the right-size car
  • the right-size wardrobe, vacation, schedule, and more

A minimalist can choose gratitude and contentment.

My mission: to discover that happy medium.

You have to search for this golden mean. You have to ask questions of yourself and be honest with the answers. You have to have your eyes open and focused outside of your own fears and desires so you can discern a more balanced perspective.

That's what I'm aiming for in my own life, and it's sometimes a matter of trial and error. It's also what I'm aiming for here at Maximum Gratitude Minimal Stuff. The name describes my mission. I want to appreciate my blessings and become aware of what is enough so I can finally quit that endless search for more.

Are you interested in a balanced life that promises more satisfaction with less stuff? If you're not already a subscriber, why not add your name to the list now? Subscribe and receive my free printable, Minimalism for Beginners.

Minimalism is not the lack of something.
It's simply the perfect amount of something.
Nicholas Burroughs


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