As I sat preparing to type, my laptop’s battery died. Looking at a black screen waiting for it to recharge, I began thinking about how dependent my life is on technology and what an examined life truly meant. American society as whole often misses out on key moments in life because they are too absorbed in one thing: a relationship, work, pleasure, wealth. Across five dimensions, some sort of balance had been incorporated or indirectly suggested in order to live both a fulfilling and joyful life.
Beginning with the intellectual dimension, a balance can be seen through the discussion of a liberal education along with the function of a Christian university. Richard Neuhaus believes that “A secular university is not a university pure and simple; it is a secular university. Secular is not a synonym for neutral”(Neuhaus 20). Neuhaus recognizes that a balance between faith and education makes a university and a student stronger. Moving further, Chickering and Giammati discussed the importance of balance in a liberal education. Chickering showed how a liberal education fosters a better human development and Giammati supported the real life application of a liberal education in the idea that cross discipline work leads to deeper and more complex understanding of society.
Venturing into the physical dimension, balance between exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep are all significant in living a healthy lifestyle. During the large group lecture on the physical dimension, the idea of balance came up often. When shown the food pyramid, followed my the newer formed “My Plate”, it is evident that balance across food groups is key to a healthy diet. DeNoon elaborates on our calories intake relaying that a major theme in the USDA dietary guidelines is “tipping the balance of calorie intake: More calories from nutrition-rich foods, fewer calories from solid fats, sugars, and refined grains”(DeNoon 1).
Each time I eat a lot of sugars with less balance between other foods, I notice a massive difference in mood and how I physically feel. Participating in the physical activity, helped me examine how balance is incorporated into my personal physical well being. Bill Phillips wrote that a simple balance in exercise is the best medicine for feeling more satisfied and content with life. I made a goal to run a mile three times each week and I did notice feeling better and happier each time I did. It also helped relieve stress. Michael Lemonick teaches that unbalanced nutrition, exeersice, and sleep habits can lead to addiction. Examining my eating behaviors I noticed I have an addiction to sugar and since then I have been trying to limit my sugar intake which has been making my well being improve in general.
During the Emotional dimension, balance led as the number one theme. Tartakovsky shares from Hilary Silver, M.S.W., a licensed clinical social worker and mental health expert for Campus Calm, that “college calls for a significant transition, where “students experience many firsts, including new lifestyle, friends, roommates, exposure to new cultures and alternate ways of thinking” (Tartakovsky 1) and a balance in managing these ‘firsts’ is key in minimizing struggle and stress. Dr. Marsh lectured in large group about the increased number of depression cases and suicide in college students. He shared that it can be prevented with a balance between school, friends, and proper nutrition. The Mayo clinic published a paper about exercise and managing stress which shows that something as a simple as walking or light exercise for 30 minutes a day can improve someone’s mood and minimize total stress. Moving further, Chickering and Reisser evaluated balanced development in emotion and education across seven vectors noting large emotional fluctuation during interdependence such as going to college.
Examining my mental state and listening to what Dr. Marsh taught helped me through my transition into college. Managing my stress and mental state can be hard, but walking more and spending time with friends instead of staying in my dorm greatly helped me during the emotional dimension and after. I also have visited the counseling center and worked on balance in my relationships to further help my emotional well being.
Relationship balance came up during the social dimension as the conversation of class, gender, and racial interaction occurred. Karen Sternheimer reveals that it is important to understand which class you are in, but only to better understand others and their perceptions of you. It is important to think about how others live to know why they act the way they do and to also see why someone themselves acts the way they do. Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development show how a person develops social identity over the course of their life. Understanding class role can have an impact in this development. Even more important, is the role of gender in society. Maureen Dowd in “What’s a Modern Girl to Do?” evaluates the struggles women have gone through across time.
Balance in determining identity is important because of all the factors that go into developing oneself. The large group lecture helped in my understanding how others groups in society function and the balance they deal with in developing their identity especially if they are discriminated against. Learning about the racial struggles of black Americans in lecture opened my eyes to how the feel and the balance they must go through in order to not function in society with retaliating to the discrimination they encounter.
Finally, balance is seen in the last dimension: the spiritual. Fredrick Buechner breaks down the idea of vocation by sharing that “there are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest” (Buechner 118). Buechner believes it is important to find a balance in calling. Palmer shared his journey to find his calling but it is evident that he needed to find a balance between what society called him to do and what God called him to do. As Palmer demonstrates, it can be hard to find balance in one’s vocation. John Holland fostered six personality types to help find balance in career choice: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Holland’s personality types can additionally be applied to spiritual vocation in understanding how religion could interact with someone’s personality. This was demonstrated in the large group lecture as we followed the story of one of professor’s own vocational journey that took him all over the world and is still a work in progress.
Participating in the spiritual activity helped me reflect on my vocation. I found that the biggest balance I will need in my life is between business and helping others. I feel that I have a calling from God to help better the lives of others and I believe I can use capitalism along with my skills in business to find a balance to fulfill my calling.
Putting everything together, Balance in the intellectual dimension came through the discussion of a liberal education along with the function of a Christian university. The physical dimension consisted of balance between exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep in living a healthy lifestyle. Minimizing stress and stabilizing mood in the emotional dimension consisted of balancing all the activities and relationships in one’s life. Social balance in determining identity is important because of all the factors that go into developing oneself along with all the pressures and discriminations in society. Lastly balancing one’s skills and passions with a larger purpose from God is key in discovering and fulfilling one’s vocation. I have gained an enormous amount of insight into the workings of my life and how I will live moving forward. Balance has allowed me to find ways to stabilize my mood, interact with other, eat healthy, learn better, and manage my calling in life all while creating the best possible well being for myself. Ultimately, I believe the examined life is a life worth living.