Balance is Overrated.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 8, 2012
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Photo: Patty Anne

As any parent or entrepreneur or servant might tell you, tell me, balance is not always possible when focus and sacrifice are required.

From a Buddhist point of view, an ability to stop moving, to be bored, is the key to neverending energy and presence of mind that is required to do many things, well. ~ ed.


Recently, on Instagram, which I’m newly in love with, a yoga friend posted a pretty inspiring picture and quote about balance.

F*ck balance. We never have balance. The trick is to be present.

Moms, entrepreneurs, athletes, public servants shouldn’t aspire to balance. We should aspire to presence.

Mothers aren’t balanced. Entrepreneurs aren’t balanced. Athletes aren’t balanced. Teachers, or many of those who serve the welfare of others, aren’t always balanced.


The truth is, anyone who is doing anything un-selfish, or focused, or larger than them, can not always be balanced.

Is it important to care for ourselves? Yes. Is it possible to stay balanced? Not always.

There’ll be times when we’re tired, and have to keep going. When we’re hungry, but can’t take a break. When we’re worn down, but have to find a way to return to the present moment and give it all.

In my experience, as an entrepreneur, I have not valued balance. I just can’t always do it. Building a dream, a business, a vision—has taken often 18 hours a day, 7 days a week—for 10 years. I just took my first vacation. I haven’t traveled. I love my work, and it’s been too much for me, often.

The trick has been, for me, to manage stress. Instead of yearning after a goal I can’t attain, and feeling guilty at my failure to maintain it—balance—I’ve sought to eat right, exercise, and meditate while I work myself too hard.

And that’s worked, mostly. More to the point, it’s been a practical, achievable goal.

Remember: a runner leans forward. He or she leans forward, not upright. And yet—with momentum, with hunger, with training—it works, for awhile.



So perhaps that “managing stress” is a form of balance. Perhaps being off-balance, as with great surfers, can be a form of balance. If so, great. But I don’t yearn for peace on a mountaintop. I don’t yearn for what I can’t realize, right now. I yearn for right now.

I yearn for being present, whatever the situation.

And I practice being present twice daily. So can you.

As my Buddhist teacher said,


should be regarded as

Extremely good News!

He also said,

Cheer up! We don’t have to take ourselves or our lives so seriously. We can celebrate!


PS: you know what, on the other hand, is also highly overrated? Multitasking. Here’s why.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


14 Responses to “Balance is Overrated.”

  1. Padma Kadag says:

    I always thought that balance does not exist and i still feel that way."Oh I want to get balanced"…not possible. What does it even mean? Lots of money is being made promising or conveying attempts at becoming balanced. Discussing getting balanced really ends conversations too…everyone nods their heads saying, "Yea that sounds good" or " me too"…and then the eyes glaze over. Not even knowing what it is to be balanced in the first place. Balance is just another concept really meaning nothing…other than the balance in physical endeavors.

  2. Well done, Waylon! Just posted to elephant spirituality, enlightened society, elephant work & money, and I'm not spiritual…


  3. cesar says:

    "I yearn for being present, whatever the situation."

    amen brother! 🙂


  4. Maria says:

    Great article and to be present in all circumstances is supreme. But balance is that voice that calls me back to my health if things have become to consistently loud, too much movement, chaotic, overly goal driven, on the verge of unmanageable or, on the flip side….overly quiet, downtimish (not really a word) … not enough movement or connectivity … both powerful places PRESENT and BALANCED

  5. Tatiana says:

    article scream I -don’t-f****g-balanced .. but good read!

  6. Loraine Magda says:

    I think your article just defined balance… mostly. What else is balance than taking time out after a period of "shoulder to the wheel"? Balance encompasses being present in the moment. One moment is action. The next moment is a pause. if we pay attention to our intuition/senses we'll always know what is needed next.

    Balance isn't in any one moment necessarily: it becomes visible when we count up the moments. When we look at our day or week as a whole we can see balance (or the lack of it).

  7. Kiki says:

    Yes. To everything.

  8. Cisco says:

    To understand balance is to understand what it takes to walk a tight rope.
    In order to stay centered(balanced) one must constantly lean back and forth to left and right. Through that constant rocking we are able to realize where our center(balance) is……bless&love

  9. LukeCassidy says:

    Thank you for the article. I like to think that balance is a form of movement. In Portuguese, the word balanca (balance) also means to swing. How can there be such a difference in their definition of the word and ours? They looked at the old scales or 'balances' and how they had to swing to find their centers! Thanks again for the article!

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  11. […] authority figures) and their impressions of me. But I don’t honestly think that is it. I really just like being busy. But it is a problem when you are too busy, spread too thin and not content in each […]

  12. Sarah says:

    Usually I like your articles. This one just didn't seem that well thought out. Kind of haphazard. Balance. Presence. Great topics, but this article comes off as a bit sensationalist if anything.

  13. Julie says:

    Having thought about it after reading this, I would define 'balanced' as being present in each moment. But the fact I had to think about it first makes me question whether the term is nonsense, and having thought about that, I believe it is. If you live one moment at a time, and are present within it, I don't think those moments can be described as unbalanced. But if you are living many moments all at once, those that have passed and those that you have not yet reached, plus the one you are actually in, then I can see how you would feel overwhelmed. Which you may term as 'unbalanced'. Bring yourself back to the present moment only, and I think you will feel what some like to call 'balance'.