Why “Life Balance” Isn’t Sustainable

October 16, 2012

@home, @work

Have you ever seen “Chopped”?

The program is a 30-minute reality competition where four Chefs are put in a kitchen to make an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for sniggering judges.  After each course, the surly judges eliminate one of the competitors with harsh, snippy comments designed to shame the chefs for an offense such as cooking a less than perfectly moist pork chop.

The entire exercise makes me exceedingly uncomfortable.

Still, when I “caught” Billy watching an episode, I didn’t ask him to turn the channel.  Instead, I watched the way you’d watch a train wreck.

On this particular night a chef was desperately trying to pull together a dessert for the judges, only the pressure got to her.  She was making one of her “go to” desserts that she knew people would like; unfortunately, she got distracted with other preparations, and she accidentally overheated her chocolate.  When chocolate gets warm too quickly, the coco separates from the oil and it “breaks.”  Initially, the chef started to flip out.  However, she didn’t stay in that mode long; she suddenly remembered honey brings chocolate back together.  So, she quickly added honey to the sad chocolate and …Boom! Problem solved! Back in the Game!

As I watched this show, I thought this was a perfect word picture for why “Life Balance” doesn’t feel sustainable.

“Balance” is the equivalent of measuring out ingredients exactly and creating a plan for the perfect dessert. This sounds like and is, in fact, a reasonable and organized thing to do.  However, while precise “balance” can be found on a kitchen scale, when you pair the balance concept with ‘life,” the ingredients tend to overheat.

The burner is too hot.

The pressure of judges is too intense.

You get distracted from your well-laid plans.

The car breaks down.

The boss misunderstands you.

The kids are bickering with each other.

Life happens.

You are out of balance.

Oh well.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.  You can plan and you can execute your plan as competently as possible, but life will always be more/less/DIFFERENT from what you plan.  Personally, I recommend moving away from the idea of balance at all.  That’s not to say I live life haphazardly – not at all – but I don’t strive for what’s rarely attainable and NEVER sustainable.

Only on cruel reality shows should we subject ourselves to judges who pick apart our best efforts.  (And, arguably, we shouldn’t do it then… but I digress!)  Instead, we should always look for how we can blend together the diverse aspects of our life and when we can’t fix the problem, we should be kind enough to ourselves to say, “Oh well.”

You might also try keeping some honey handy.

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2 Responses to “Why “Life Balance” Isn’t Sustainable”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The Posts all love Chopped. And, as Sally calls it, Cupcake Wars Chopped. Your take on the judges is interesting; from my perspective, they are mostly constructive and supportive, not mean or sniggering. One of them often cries along with the winning contestant. At base, the judges want all the contestants to succeed, but only one can win. The beautiful thing about life, is that it mostly doesn’t work that way. I agree re: balance. And honey.


  2. Joy Phenix Says:

    It may be the show editors cut the footage to feature any kind of negative comment. Billy doesn’t think the judges are harsh either, but for some reason my skin crawls : )
    Still, the lesson on honey more than made up for it.


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