Finding Balance







I was talking with a friend about a workshop she went to on happiness. The speaker drew a picture of a set of weights. On one side she wrote “Meaning.” She balanced the other side with “Pleasure.” The lesson was, “Too much meaning without enough pleasure results in burnout, resentment and anger. Too much pleasure with no meaning leads to an empty and hollow life.”

This week I’m taking a pause from writing as I seek balance by integrating recent pleasures with intense winter travel and meaningful work. I’ll share pictures from polar opposite latitudes: New Zealand at 45º South Latitude, and New England, where I live, at 45º North Latitude. Check out the similarities and differences and tell me, if you wish:

How do you find balance between meaning and pleasure?









































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18 Responses to Finding Balance

  1. David Hochschartner says:

    Balance … so critical and so hard to achieve. Well said Eileen. I just picked up Pico Iyer’s book, The Art Of Stillness in Dennis Aftergut’s apartment; hoping it is going to help me a bit.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Balance? Try tossing a nylon rope on the floor and walking barefoot, with your eyes closed! Anna Halprin (renowned dancer and dance therapist, about to be 95,) does this every day and she’s still dancing!

  2. Phyll says:

    Intriguing blog. Meaning and pleasure. Work and leisure. Energy and balance. Too much of anything can lead to imbalance—in one’s heart and soul, daily living and health. Lots to think about. Thanks for raising this important topic—and message. To others, to ourselves.

    Here’s a quote from one of my favorite artists:

    What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter—a soothing calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.

    Henri Matisse

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Wow Phyll! That could be the tag line under my blog! Maybe I’ll have to borrow that quote. You are full of gifts. Thank you so much!

      • Phyll says:

        “Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfilment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”


        –Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. joaneee says:

    Good morning Eileen . . . Happiness, I find, is an intangible — a mental and even more than that – an emotional state that reflects not the world but who WE are. Frankly, I don’t think we need workshops to connect us with the possibilities here. All we need do is to lead with the heart . . . and go with the strongest feelings that lie within. It is our own life and our individual happiness is our own JOY.

    I never ask myself if something I am doing is “meaningful”. I don’t question my actions. That becomes a tangled web in itself, catching you up. Again, in life I lead from the heart in all I do — and that may include “doing for others” in the larger ball of wax that is life. If we – as individuals – are doing what is right for us, giving pleasure and good for others normally is part of the package. Instead of “I have to do this” projects, you then should be exuding joy — lifting clouds for others, making life in all its facets better for others by you being there, having answers/choices that move us all forward. It can make you soar.

    When I look at the photo above – of the sunrise breaking through in coldest winter in Vermont – it equates with rays of happiness overriding every sort of dark cloud. So I would say to stop pondering “what is” and instead look forward to the sun rays and plan for “what will be”. The here-and-now is what it is at this moment in time . . . but for those who lead from the heart, a brighter world is probably over the next hill. Believe!!

    Love, Joan

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I see you leading from both heart and head Joan. How lucky for you that a simply sunset can drop you into your heart in the moment. Some people need workshops to drop into their heart. Most people need support from other human beings, but nature is a great panacea. That’s why I put so many nature photos up on my blog!

  4. Hi Eileen, beautiful photos… I wrote a silly poem on your last blog, hoping it would make the readers laugh– a meaningful expression. Above Phyll’s blog to you and your readers, I wrote
    another entry, hoping, you would find meaning in it, too. My work, as a mother,is the most
    meaningful and fulfilling work I have taken on, unhesitatingly. As you, so wisely, responded to me in one of your blog notes, being a parent does not pay a salary. I accepted the exchange of love with no pay, easily. I have NOT accepted other important aspects of being a family, dependent on a salary earned by my credentialed husband, as easily– lots of bossy type problems that got in the way. So, I was ADVISED to stay away from commenting on his employment! I listened to the advice, meaningful and wise. Yesterday, I read several of Jorge Luis Borges’ poems and found a wonderful sense of meaning in many of the poems. I love good poetry! Your blog articles are filled with meaning…keep writing and taking photos. Spring is almost here!

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I enjoy your thoughts Elaine, as well as the multiple ways you share them; last week’s fun poem, following a very thoughtful piece on Congress and Netanyahooi; this week’s commentary on the balance between your job and your husband’s. I’m glad you find meaning (and I presume comfort) in poetry. We are so fortunate to have so many poets in the world for just these kind of times. Let me know some of your favorite poets and poems.

  5. Barb B says:

    Gorgeous photos! Some of them seem to me to be a COMBINATION of meaning and pleasure. When I engage in an activity that is meaningful – and that I enjoy – the combination is almost as lovely as your photos.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thank you Barb. If you haven’t looked recently, be sure to look at them again. Somehow the order was not correct at first but it now it is and I chose deliberate pairings. It was such fun to put together. I can understand from just that exercise, how meaning and pleasure can be combined.

  6. Steve Kieselstein says:

    Really interesting question Eileen.
    I find that I often struggle to find the balance, but wonder sometimes if I should spend less time worrying about finding it, and just let it find itself.

    Oscar Wilde would seem to agree.
    “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Isn’t life full of such paradoxes? I love that Oscar Wilde quote. It seems to me that the more we know fully what’s at one end of the spectrum, the more we can become fully acquainted with its opposite. That’s why I don’t aspire to find equilibrium. I envision the ups and downs like an electrocardiogram. Without the spikes (of the heart beat) we would be dead! So here’s to the spikes of life!!!

  7. Darrel Huenergardt says:

    I am spending the week in a location that provides both meaning and pleasure. You probably know it well: Colonial Williamsburg. In order to learn more of the importance of our history (the meaning) I go to Williamsburg and enjoy the outstanding presentations (pleasure). I have made many friends here over the years and friends are a source of pleasure and providing friendship to them brings meaning to a life. I will forever be indebted to “David’s father”. I attempt to get here two or three times a year even though I live in Nebraska. The meaning and pleasure make those trips worth it. It was here that your book was recommended to me by a good friend.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Dear Darrel, Your story moves me greatly. Thank you for sharing your indebtedness to “David’s father,” and how meaningful it is to you to visit Colonial Williamsburg 2 to 3 times a year. I would love to pass your comment along to the new President when I meet him. Would that be okay with you? I’m happy to hear too, that my book was recommended to you. It seems to be getting out there in a slow but steady trickle. I’m happy it has brought you here to my blog. Welcome!

      • Darrel Huenergardt says:

        I would be honored for especially you to mention me to Mr Reiss. I met Mr. Campbell on a few occasions, but not so he would remember. I have made many good friends over the years. Probably the closest friends there are Joni and John Stevens. She was head concierge at the inn for many years. It seems that everyone knows Joni so thought I would mention her. Next trip there is April 20, which made it easier to leave this morning!

        Darrel Huenergardt

  8. Tonja (Iman) Ali says:

    Hi Eileen,
    Amen! I rebel. Growing up, I never liked the idea of waiting until the weekend to live or have fun. “If I could just get to “hump day” — felt like a tragedy to me. People working jobs they hate. Waiting on Saturday and dreading Monday.

    I heard that when you do what you love you never work a day in your life! It’s very true. People always ask me, “what you do for fun?” I say, “I LIVE!” Yesterday I got a chance to work with the great Mya Rudolph – from Saturday Night Live – on set of a HBO pilot. She was so funny. We danced and laughed all while doing the so-call “work” thing. It was amazing.

    People use to say the worse thing about me was that I was always “dreaming” – now that they don’t see MUCH separation between my dreams and my reality – they’re asking me, “how do you do that?” (SMILE)

    Dare to dream. Come ALIVE — is my daily mantra.

  9. eileenrockefeller says:

    Iman, you are an inspiration! Live, live and be alive. Every moment, awake. I look forward to living some moments with you in the not too distant future.

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