True vitality requires that we have appropriate frameworks we can engage that nourish vitality. For this reason I have designed this model to provide an upgrade for people to address what I have witnessed, over the years, as the misrepresented concept of balance and imbalance.
As a society we tend to be very “noun” focused and, as such, construct frameworks that emphasize the noun. This is very restrictive and, to pull it off, requires that we, as a society, become a bunch of control freaks. As most of you reading this will testify, control-freaks abound.
We actually are very dynamic at the core of our being. To liberate this dynamic, dancing, wonderful energy we must be able to imagine it unbound, not as chaotic, but free to express. The more we constrict this natural verb of our being the more corrupted our natural energy becomes and the more dis-ease, conflict, fear, and polarity we experience. Upgrading this will make more fun available for everyone.
Let’s get to the model!
Most of us think of balance in terms of being out of balance or in balance. We know we are out of balance when we experience suffering of some kind. Like when we have back pain or are sleep deprived. We know we are in balance when we experience an absence of suffering. Like when we are rested or our back isn’t hurting. The problem with having only the two distinctions is that it limits knowing how out-of-balance we actually are and it also limits the excellence we can achieve. For true Vitality we need to expand the model to more accurately represent the four stages we encounter.
Imbalance and Balance actually have two parts each. Imbalance may be experienced as either Crisis or Discomfort. And Balance may be experienced as either Neutral or Thriving. The following definitions will be useful as you begin to adapt this model to your own life:
Crisis: survival mode, low level of functioning compared to our capacity–typically experience physically strong reaction (headache, panic attacks, nausea, etc), strong emotions, difficult to think of anything else or do anything else.
Discomfort: functioning but constricted—difficult to be open, generous, some physical and emotional suffering but not in the forefront of our minds all the time. Can do other things, albeit not necessarily well.
Neutral: we call this neutral because we aren’t in a state of suffering per se and things seem to be going well. This is when we don’t want to do anything disruptive so we can continue to experience an absence of suffering. Not much energy/fulfillment, but when compared to imbalance feels pretty good, when compared to thriving it is not that bad.
Thriving: Thriving has a positive, open, energized quality to it. When we are thriving we are not just experiencing “good or high energy” we are in a particular state of awareness, openness and have an easy generosity of spirit (compassion, understanding, higher levels of patience) even in difficult circumstances. Thriving is a state that can encompass and inform the other three states. Indeed, one can be experiencing crisis and still be high-functioning, this is thriving.
While we can be in discomfort in, say, a personal relationship, and thriving in our careers, it is not sufficient to view our lives with such tidy demarcations. The reality is that each area of our lives will ultimately influence other areas of our lives. Crisis in one area will eventually spill into other areas—we will take our personal lives to work with us or bring our work home.
By using the Balance/Imbalance/Thriving model in a way that allows us to take inventory both inwardly with ourselves as well as outwardly in the various areas of our lives, we have a tool that allows us to more realistically understand and address our needs. Because we are unique individuals we can use these 4 stages to allow us to get a more objective understanding of what is required for us as unique individuals and respond accordingly. Indeed, the very act of doing this is what cultivates Thriving.
This model can, and should, be used for individuals and communities and the planet as a whole. It scales in usefulness to any level of relevant existence.