When it comes to spending, most of us think in terms of money but I want to remind us that the only real thing we have to spend is the time we have while we walk the earth. Let’s call that time our hours. We each get 24 of them per day; no bargaining, no allowances, no accumulating. Time is perhaps the only human commodity that is thoroughly egalitarian.
The way we spend our hours is at the core of how healthy we are. It is also at the core of how happy we are, how meaningful our life is, what kind of contribution we make, how much joy we achieve, and the depth of peace we experience. When you think about it, how we spend our hours is the biggest determination of the quality of our lives.
So how can we keep track of our hours budget? As we all know, if we aren’t paying attention to the money budget, the dollars slip away. And so it is with the hours budget; if we aren’t paying some attention to it, the hours, days, months and years slip away.
Let’s try a very simple “budgeting” process using the triumvirate of body, mind, and spirit. If we are spending hours in some equality amongst all three of these areas we are likely to experience a good sense of balance. Let’s try it out.
We have our 24 hours each day. For most people, 8 hours go for work and 8 hours go for sleep. That uses up 2/3 of our budget before we even begin to make our balance choices. It’s important to look at your own daily hours budget to see where your top two expenditures are. Of course this will vary for each of us and change over time, but once you have this core piece of information in mind, it will be obvious where your other hours need spending to achieve life balance.
Body refers to our physical existence. The human body has myriad physical requirements. We mentioned sleep which is an especially important one. The body also needs to be fed every day. So the planning, purchasing, preparing and cleaning up after preparing, and the eating of food is a necessary part of how we spend our hours. The body needs hydration so consuming the best possible quality water needs to be on our list. The body needs to breathe and I know we generally put this in a multi-tasking category that we can do while we’re doing everything else. But the truth is, breathing and the oxygen it brings into our body is one of the most important health strategies you can incorporate; so best we keep it on our list.
The body needs to move; the lymphatic system does not have a pump beyond the pumping we give it when we use our muscles. The lymphatic system is our septic system, so if we don’t pump it, it backs up much in the way a sewer can back up. Not good. So we need time for exercise and movement every day. And on this topic, the body requires time for elimination. And the body eliminates best when it is well fed, well hydrated, well exercised and well established with a time of day routine.
The body needs to be cleaned. Bathing is the basic component here. But check out how much of your time goes to matters of vanity beyond bathing. For women, this can be an especially significant amount of time. Think about how much time goes to hair and make up, hair appointments, nail appointments, tanning, hair removal, etc. But men also can spend time in this arena; daily shaving for example.
I don’t mean to be exhaustive in this discussion. Just start to think how many hours of your day are spent on the physical aspect of your existence. Any one of these categories can be underweighted or overweighted. After all, our choices for how we spend our hours each day are truly and literally infinite.
The physical area might also include your work and if that is the case, you can see that you may need to focus your remaining hours into mind and spirit activities.
On to Mind. Mind refers to the areas of intellect, rational pursuits, analytical efforts. For many people this area includes time spent at work. Mind incorporates the left brain concept. Thinking, planning, communicating, organizing, teaching, reading, writing, etc. are all examples of time spent in Mind. In modern life, with computers, cell phones, ipads and all manner of electronic devices ubiquitous, it is very, very easy to over spend hours in this area.
Spirit is often the area of your life that gets short shrift when it comes to the spending of your hours. Other descriptions for this category might be soul or heart or spirituality or right brain. It will include things like artistic pursuits, intuition, prayer, meditation, time spent in nature, time spent with beauty, music, art, creative cooking, crafts, etc. You can usually tell when you are in your creative self or your heart self because the time flies by and you will have a smile on your face.
Try writing the words “Body”, “Mind”, and “Spirit: across the top of a piece of paper. Then try listing some of the kinds of things I’ve tried to give you an idea about here. It won’t take more than a few minutes for the trends of your life to jump off the page.