We are often told to think in terms of absolutes while the personal development advises us to think in terms of balance. I believe that this balance is achieved by dynamic tensions between opposing forces.
What are dynamic tensions Tensions are used all the time in engineering. Modern bridges are built using a balance of forces that keep the bridge upright.
What sort of tensions exist in our life?
One of the best examples is the work hard/play hard dynamic tension. Most people that I know who spend the weekend watching TV because they lack energy from work, turn up at work on Monday still without any energy. Instead by following up hard work with hard play they return to work with more energy.
Another common tensions is between our personal needs and the needs of the community we are in. This includes the needs of work, family, relationships and friends.
Ideally our relationships, friends, family and work will help us fulfill our needs, however for most people we have to find a push and pull balance to keep everything
Why are they helpful
Static balances are very delicate things. Most people I know who have found balance in their life are easy to upset and disrupt. Maintaining a static balance seems to be very hard. Imagine like a set of scales. Add a little more weight to one side or the other and the scales are quickly out of balance.
With a dynamic tension you push in one direction and you are pulled in another. If you try to play harder, work will pull you back, and as you try and work harder, friends will push you to play. The balance is there and very robust.
It also gives you more flexibility when you need it so that you might need to work harder, spend more time with your partner or help out a friend. You can put that effort in knowing that eventually you will dragged back into balance.
If you want a new balance you can always adjust one of the forces as many people do when they quit a job that was taking them away from their family.
You need a range of forces to keep everything in balance. Look at the workaholic, you will see that their home life has problems. See the person drinking late at night on a week night, you know that they don't like their job.
When any one force is missing or is very weak you might end up with a bad balance.
Setting up your dynamic tensions
The trick with setting a balance using dynamic tensions, is not aim to reduce anything, but to add the pull of something else. This way the tensions are always pulling you to things that you want and desire.
Take the simple example of taking up a hobby. Finding something you really like will make you want to finish work early some days, it will give you reason to avoid your friends who want to spend the night drinking and it is an excuse to ditch some of your family pressures.
Most importantly, dynamic tensions are about being able to focus on the most important parts of your life and energising yourself.