Episode 4: The Happy Medium

Welcome to the Vibrant Life! My name is Emily Romrell. Today is February  15, 2016, and this is Episode 4: The Happy Medium.  This week the focus is all about finding balance. It can be pretty tricky at times, but it’s definitely possible. Finding the Happy Medium is a fundamental part of living a vibrant life.

I love Science Fiction, and I love Children’s books. So you might be able to guess that one of my all time favorite writers is Madeleine L’Engle author of the fabulous book “A Wrinkle in Time.” I love that she uses real science in her writing, and she doesn’t dumb things down for her young readers. I love how she creates endearing characters that stay with you for a long time. One character that I’ve become obsessed with is her Happy Medium.

In “A Wrinkle in Time” the Happy Medium is a psychic woman who lives on a medium gray world. She prefers to only look at the happy things of life and pretends that negativity doesn’t exist. So in the book she is living in a self induced false happiness, and the point to be made in the story is that there are times when you have to choose a side and do the right thing. You can’t be the proverbial fence sitter and ignore the pivotal events happening around you.

In that context a happy medium isn’t a great thing, and I do believe that there are times we must take a stand for what is right in the world.  You can’t compromise your standards or your core beliefs and be happy. There are times when we must be valiant  fighters for truth.

However, I feel that there is a tendency these days to become lopsided in our lives. And this lopsidedness is where addictions are born. Society is full of workaholics, alcoholics, political correctness, TV binge watchers, gym junkies, and junk food addicts.  We are all so easily caught up in some areas of life that we create holes in other areas. Then we try to fill those holes with more of the same things, and we wonder why there are so many problems. The truth is we have created these problems ourselves due to a great lack of happy mediums.

Unlike the Happy Medium in “A Wrinkle in Time” though, we have to face the truth about ourselves and our surroundings. When we can do that, then we will be able to see the holes in our lives and fill them with the right things. We can make ourselves into the people we want to be.

Let’s talk about work life vs. home life for a minute. This is something that can be very difficult to balance.  It’s so easy to let stress from home bleed into your work so that you become distracted and less effective. And conversely a hard day at the office might make you irritable or mentally absent at home.  The drive to make more money can often take us away from the things and people we are trying to support in the first place.  What can we do to prevent this?

One answer is the terrific story of the trouble tree. The story goes like this:

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied.” I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.”

He paused. “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there ain’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

How much happier would our lives be if we could all plant trouble trees in our hearts. We can plant trouble trees for all kinds of potential problems, not just for work and family. We could hang past regrets on a trouble tree and build a brighter future. We can hang out our temptations to fall into bad habits. We can pick up courage to face each new day with optimism.

Another big part of finding a happy medium is to set priorities, and then go with the flow. In my mind I sort of envision myself as one of those toy race cars that you wind up and then let go. Except unlike the toy cars, we can change directions and most of the time avoid running into walls.

I think it is important to plan out your day and have tasks to accomplish. It’s great to have a checklist of to do items. When you’re motivated its amazing how much you can get done in just 24 hrs. Less time than that really when you factor in sleep.

However, life is crazy and it’s just as important to be flexible when things do go as planned. One of the greatest advantages we have as humans is our capacity to change. Some of the best days are the unexpected adventures that arise from flat tires, wrong directions, or unexpected visitors.

So on one hand you don’t want to become so preoccupied with your to do list that you miss the opportunities each day holds. But on the other hand you don’t want to be lazy or neglectful of the good you can do by proactively getting tasks done.

All I can really say about finding the happy medium here is that it takes practice. No one is perfect. We all have holes that we need to fill in healthy ways. It’s so important for us to remember to be kind to each other. Life is a giant learning curve, and we all have individual lessons to learn. We all have addictions we are trying to overcome. Your holes might be in different places than mine, but we’re all as holey as swiss cheese. Keeping that in mind, I try to keep criticism at a minimum. Let’s all work and build each other up together.

I believe that as we continually look for areas to improve ourselves and build more balance in our lives, that we will be able to find the real Happy Medium. We can live vibrantly in all of the various areas of life. And we won’t have to be psychic to predict a bright future ahead.

Thanks for listening! Comments are always welcome on the website: VibrantLifePodcast.com. Tune in next Monday, February 22 for Episode 5: Kindred Spirits. My name is Emily Romrell. Have a happy week, and don’t forget to Live the Vibrant Life!