Taking care of the glass balls in our lives

I learnt one of the most powerful life lessons recently while reading a book.

The protagonist talks about the five balls that we juggle in our lives namely: work, family, friends, health and integrity. We try and keep most of it in the air, try our best not to drop any of them. Work is the only ball that is made of rubber and it bounces back and the others are made of glass…once they are dropped, they get irrevocably damaged.

Yet, we go through life giving more and more importance to our work and career at the cost of our health, relationship and other finer aspects of life.  It is one aspect where one’s experience turns to be the best teacher!  It is also a management lesson taught by Gurus, yet this simple aspect eludes us unless we are forced to learn otherwise. The reasons are manifold. The tangible returns that hard work gives us by way of money or instant recognition is hardly there in other aspects of life. Relationship needs hard work and sometimes it is seemingly thankless. Health concerns are the last in our mind, until one face some kind of set-back in the health front either their own or their loved ones.

The work-life balance in each one of us is different. All of us work for earning money. For most of the people, money is the necessity and for some a medium to seek luxury. The amount we earn is also attributed as a measurement of success.  Sometimes, people do take pride in proving to the world that they are a hardworking lot and this makes the boundaries of the life beyond work blur to a great extent. We tend to let things to slide that it becomes a habit then you start losing yourself and the things that you value; you start to hurt.

This aspect of placing work above all else is nothing peculiar to certain section of the society or to a particular generation. Workaholics existed and thrived over centuries.  This gentleman I know takes special pride to portray himself as a globe trotter and feels that his only responsibility to his family is to provide them with adequate money.  Living away from his family for almost a decade, the children have grown up and are successful despite him! A great deal of credit goes to his wife for keeping a semblance of home and providing them with security and solace.  His priority seems to be entirely different and his wife’s loneliness is not taken seriously enough by him.  Another friend of ours on his return from abroad after a stint of more than a decade found that his family had moved on and were more comfortable without him being a part of the family. Sad indeed!

In such cases, it is more than hurting yourself; it is hurting the loved ones.  Today’s grandparents are the most hardworking of all.  Not only are they having a run of second –parenting, they seem to be looking after all the needs of their married children. Right from taking care of bills to the feeding and schooling of their grandchildren, the whole burden seems to be lying on their already burdened shoulders. “I have no time,’ is the common refrain and it runs through a gamut of occasions; right from attending a family function or taking an appointment with the doctor for a  regular check-up.

Work seems to be really taking its toll on us. Driving to and from work is another major issue. There is no one clear cut solution to this aspect of taking care of the glass balls.  What we actually need to do is to find a balance among all things important to us. ‘Not taking work back home or home to work’ is a tested and tried phenomenon of all those who we consider successful.  The distraction of being available 24/7 on our internet is another sure-fire way of not having time for other aspects of our lives.  Relationship experts are already sounding the warning bells on work related disturbance affecting the fledging relationship of newly married couples.

Cutting down on phone time and on social networking sites  also work wonders when you want to spend some real time with your family and friends. Spending some ‘me- time’ by going for walks, or hitting a gym as a couple or on pursuing some hobbies also can make us better equipped to take care of precious glass balls – namely relationship and health.  Besides all the above, the spirituality or growing beyond today is possible only when we think of feeding our spirit and being honest. As a colleague of mine said, our soul is here to learn and one of our priorities is to make sure that we give it sufficient food for thought during our stay here on this earth.

To conclude, we owe more to this life and the key to taking care of the glass balls lies in practicing the technique of prioritizing sensibly.


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