We live in a society now where excess is the norm. This ancient Greek phylosophical term refers to a healthy-mindedness (seen as self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance).
As a lifestyle choice, a life of moderation is balanced, although in today's society it seems we choose to live in excess or complete abstinence. Trends like veganism, fitness, travel, feminism, tech: people live and breathe their selected lifestyles so obsessively, discussing little else. Surely a more balanced life is one that includes a little of everything: your vices included, good and bad like yin and yang?
St. Augustine so wisely said, "To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation."
Since the divorce, and with the time spent trying to find a new balance in my new life, Sophrosyne appears to be the best word to describe a state of mind (or lifestyle, if you will) which is essential to achieving a balance which is right for me. Complete abstinence from something I enjoy (good or bad) I find to be a punishment to me. I begin to crave that thing more and it consumes my thoughts, thus consuming my energy.
With your personal experiences and habits, you should be able to identify what changes you need to make to your mind and habits in order to reach a state of balance which is sustainable and ideal for you.
Step 1: Identify the excess in your life
All of us have our vices, and habits or things that we over induldge in, either because we love it so much or it provides an emotional outlet. Identify these, and list just the top things you think are a priority.
My list is very long, but for the time being, I've chosen to focus on my spending habits (lifetime recovering shopaholic, but it's getting much better with age), excessive use of social media and my phone, and my sugar intake.
Step 2: Create a new routine or habit
With a little help from Marie Kondo's book 'The life changing magic of tidying up', I decluttered 'most' of my physical space and have completely changed the way I shop (with the occasional relapse).
I am now much more mindful when shopping, and only if I need the product or deem it a long term investment will I buy it. I buy clothing from independent brands which may cost more, but are better made and better quality. No more fast fashion in my wardrobe. I only buy clothing which suits my personal style, which is quite basic and long lines which flatter my body type. Because the items cost more, and I have also established my 'staple wardrobe pieces' I also but much less than I bought before. I now buy maybe 1 new piece per category per season, versus my unlimited purchases previously. For example: 1 genuine leather biker jacket, which is a one-time purchase. 1 new bikini this summer and I threw out all the old ones which did not fit or lost elasticity, previously I would buy 2 per summer. I'm not likely to need a new swimsuit for a few years unless my body changes drastically.
On unplugging, I don't own a TV at home, so use my tablet and mobile for mindless entertainment. For almost a year now though, I have been leaving my phone overnight in the kitchen, and don't take it to bed with me. So that is one step closer to less use of social media, at least last thing at night and first thing in the morning. My business also relies on connectivity, but I definitely need to set some boundries on the number of times I check emails and connect on SM. Working for yourself can be tricky, because you don't have work hours so work easily seeps into private time too. I've lessened my use of Pinterest though, which used to be my biggest procrastination tool ever! I now visit Pinterest maybe twice a week for an hour every time.
I've also started reading proper books again in the last year, you know - the kind printed on paper. Fiction, self help and business books. This has definitely helped me switch off, although admittingly, it's easier to not check my phone when there is no wifi or 4G. So I think I may have to allot some time, maybe lunch hour, to switching my phone off, to really take this unplugging habit to the next level.
Sugar intake: this is a big emotional crutch. I noticed I eat sweets when I'm bored, stressed, lazy. I may have to go back on my dieticians strict 'no sugar / no carbs' diet which I did last year for 2 months after the divorce. I think I am weak and need some imposed rules and structure again to help cut this habit. Also, I realise I need to start seeing my psychologist again because it's obvious to me I am avoiding dealing with certain emotions and find comfort in food. The first road to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
Step 3: Everything in moderation
From the Greek proverb, "Moderation is best in all things" (Greek: πάν μέτρον ἄριστον, pan metron ariston).
This is a change in mindset. I am not forbidding myself life's little pleasure. I am simply being more mindful and present of habits which are consuming too much time and energy. These are things I will still enjoy, but in moderation. Freeing my time up gives me more time to try new things and be more productive with my allotted time and freed up energy.
What I am trying to achieve is completely personal to me, and affects my life directly. It's not part of some movement or trend. I am simply trying to find a healthy balance, remain productive and sustain a mental wellness.
With experience comes a little more wisdom and knowledge about what it good for you. Only you know what your goals are, and with a little trial and error, you can find a formula that works for you.
Love & light always