Control vs Balance

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“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

–     Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968), American Trappist monk, writer and theologian

Control is an illusion.  Balance is the holy grail.

Multiple generations in our society have been taught that control is our end-game.  If we’ll just commit the hours, the intensity, the practice time, the mind-numbing debates about contingencies and “Plan B’s” — we’ll control the outcome.  Um, no.  We won’t.  At best, we might impact the outcome, but control it?  Not so much.

We talk about cpntrol in sports, in business, in relationships.  It seeps its way into virtually every aspect of our lives.  And it’s an illusion, because we control two things.  What we believe, and how we respond, or what we do next.

Balance, on the other hand, is how we navigate the reality of a frustrating lack of control.

Sometimes the slacker across the row gets the promotion.  Sometimes the market crashes right after we made that “sure-thing” investment, the one we researched for months.  Sometimes people who are doing a great job lose that job.  Sometimes we make almost all of our shots and still lose the game.  Preparation, planning, execution can all be spot-on, and the outcome might not be what we expect.  The market might change (remember Blockbuster?).  The buyer might lose their senses, or perhaps more likely, lose their funding.  The perfect night out might be disrupted by a thunderstorm or a back-up on the highway.  Geese might fly in to the engines and we might end up in the Hudson River instead of Charlotte / Douglas International Airport.

We don’t control any of that.

Balance, though, is what keeps us from getting too high when things are clicking and from getting too low when all hell breaks loose.  Balance reminds us that if She And The Three are safe tonight, the important stuff is covered.

We want control.  We want it really badly, and we’ve been trained, for generations, to pursue it.  To chase after it.  To sacrifice for it.

Balance is easier to attain.  It’s more valuable.  And, it plays to our strengths, because control is an illusion.  All that matters, all we control is what we do next.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Captain “Sully…”


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