Ever wonder what is the very first thing we seek in life apart from basic physical needs? The first major milestone of a child involves achieving balance. Whether we learn to walk, ride a cycle or climb a hill, our ability to maintain balance is what gets us through. In fact the human body seeks homeostasis, a sense of balance. The moment one of the parameters of the body rises, it tries its best to compensate and bring it down to a balance. In fact even physics talks about equilibrium and balance.

More often than not, however, we tend to forget this basic principle of life. In our attempt to deal with the wrong and the ‘bad’, we go to the other extreme of the pendulum and over do the good. In the bargain to be correct all the time we may lose out on the essence of the situation.

Too much of good can go out of control and do more harm than a little bad. The simplest example is in cooking. An ingredient which can make the food delicious can completely ruin it if used in excess. Too much of baking powder and the cake can end in a mess.

Take the case of a young man who was extremely health conscious. Gym and exercise were part of his daily routine. He never missed a single day of exercise. Now this is an extremely desirable behaviour, how could it cause harm? It caused harm when it took precedence over everything and became almost a compulsion. He started berating himself for even a single missed day. He compensated for a missed day by working out extra on the next day. He refused to listen to his body and its need for rest and ended up with exhaustion and muscle wear and tear. What had started as a healthy habit soon became an addiction of sorts.

A young child who enjoyed reading was well appreciated and admired. She read all sorts of books and her knowledge increased leaps and bounds. However it soon became the only activity she indulged in. She refused to socialise, spend time with family, involve in other activities of pleasure, preferring to spend all her time alone with her books. She soon found herself isolated from her friends, unaware of social etiquette and lagging behind in many aspects, not to mention the strain on her eyes and lack of physical activity. An extremely desirable activity became a problem behaviour simply because it was overdone and not balanced with other much-needed activities.

A middle-aged man decided to eat healthy after a health scare. He gave up on all ‘bad’ food and decided to eat only what he considered healthy. He stopped eating out and gave on sugar and oil and fats. He counted each calorie that was consumed and the components of what he ate. A major part of the day was spent on planning his meals and avoiding anything unhealthy. Shopping for groceries became a task because he would insist on reading the ingredients of each and everything he bought. Vacations and travel were avoided because they meant eating outside. Yet he fell sick, found to have deficiencies. In his bargain to eat healthy he forgot a simple principle. The human body seeks balance over and above everything else. The body needs its share of sugar and fats and oils. It needs a balanced diet. The one time he had to eat outside he had a violent reaction because the body was unable to accept the food it was not used to.

A young woman started meditation and chanting to help her deal with the day-to-day stressors of life. She would begin her day with an hour of meditation and end her day with chanting. She soon found herself relaxing and adjusting to life better. The good habit however soon became a compulsion of sorts.  She started to believe that since the habit was helping her with stress, not doing those for even a day would make her stressed. The day she would miss out on either of them she would become anxious and worried. She would anticipate that her day would be bad and stressful and would be on edge all the time. This often lead to things going wrong and it became a firm belief that missing out on her ‘good’ habit even for a day would cause harm. The habit ceased to be of help and became more of a burden.

A mother who loved her children dearly and all her life was focused only on them. She stopped focusing on any other aspect of her life. She was always doing things for her children. Eventually the children became excessively dependent on her. They were unable to fend for themselves or make decisions independently. Or the family which believed in complete freedom and never discussed limits and boundaries with their children. Love and care are essential to our growth as much as nutrition and water but an excess of love and care can be as harmful as neglect and isolation. It can become overbearing and suffocating depriving the person an opportunity to develop self-dependence and at times individuality.

An entrepreneur who likes everything to be organised and well planned. It helped him have a clear vision and make sensible decisions. He liked structure and everything in his day was planned to perfection. An admirable habit definitely but then he was unable to deal with things when things did not go according to plan. It let to anger outbursts and confusion and impulsive decisions.

Nature gives us plenty of examples of how life seeks balance. Flora to fauna, herbivore to carnivore, man to nature, all it seeks is balance. Rains are essential for our survival but an excess of rain can damage everything in sight. Warm weather is enjoyable but soaring mercury in summer are unbearable.

An addiction is a habit which went out of control. Addiction is not just about harmful things, too much of a good thing can become harmful too if it goes out of control.

Good or bad, its all about knowing when to stop. After all life needs to be a mixture of sugar and spice and not just everything nice.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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