Forest Gump may believe life is like a box of chocolates, but I believe life should be like a bowl of Chex Mix – with the perfect ratio of ingredients. I believe a happy life consists of the right balance of work, relationships, responsibilities, fun and taking care of one’s self. An imbalance among these areas is like Chex Mix without the right ratio of ingredients.
Every holiday my family always has at least one discussion about what it takes to make the perfect Chex Mix. We know it takes the right balance of Rice Chex, to Wheat Chex, to peanuts and pretzels. It also takes the right amount of “hot kick” in the seasoning. The right amount of butter(and only butter) and just the right amount of cooking time. If one area is off-balance then I get “the message”. Life should be like Chex Mix – striving for the right ratio. When too much of your life is consumed by one area (or your life consumes too much of one area), then the other areas get diminished and out of balance. This imbalance impacts work quality, relationships, attitude, and our health due to chronic stress.
Chronic Stress Is Like Soggy Chex Mix Without The Crunch
I have learned to mix the warm, seasoned butter with the Rice Chex, peanuts and pretzels first, before stirring in the Wheat Chex. If I put the Wheat Chex in with everything else from the start, the Wheat Chex act like little sponges and become soggy. And if those sheets of Chex Mix are not baked for at least 20 minutes at 325 and tossed around half way, then the mix won’t crisp up.
Chronic stress leaves our thoughts half-baked, hearts soggy and life without crispness. Short episodes of stress gives us a boost of energy from the release of hormones that prepare our bodies for action. However, prolonged periods of stress with long-term exposure to these hormones, can not only cause headaches, indigestion, poor sleep, depression and anxiety but increased inflammation that speeds up aging. Furthermore, chronic stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even a weakened immune system.
It’s Your Life – Get the Right Ratio!
It’s so easy to put off taking care of ourselves. I hear people say frequently how unhappy they are in their job. It always makes me wonder if they have considered all possibilities like a change in jobs, moving, or reassessing needs and wants. It makes me wonder whether or not they have created their own financial prisons thinking they must have a certain lifestyle, house, camp, travel or multiple things that only bring temporary happiness.
I hear my clients say often that they will start exercising when “the kids go to school” or “when I have more time” or “when I go south in the winter” instead of just finding ten minutes to go for a fast walk that week. Or sometimes a client will talk about their loneliness instead of doing something about it by joining clubs or meet-up’s or getting active in the community.
Sometimes people take on too many responsibilities through work, family or volunteering and don’t ask for help or know when to say “no”. And sometimes people don’t have enough responsibilities and have too much fun so that they lose out on that feeling of personal satisfaction and fulfillment.
I believe getting the right life ratio starts with knowing why it is important and then re-prioritizing. The “life Chex Mix ratio” doesn’t happen overnight, but gradually everyone can find that balance of work, responsibilities, fun, relationships and taking care of one’s self if they really want it. My Chex mix was not perfect the first time, but I can certainly boast that today, after 30 years of making it, it is mighty fine with just the right amount of cereal, nuts and pretzels, “spicy kick”, butter and baking that is not soggy, nor without delicious buttery crunch!