Balance at Bryn Mawr

This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

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Women Living Well - 2004

Student Papers

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Balance at Bryn Mawr

Ana Salzberg

Over the past four sessions of Women Living Well, speakers have discussed a variety of topics: We have learned about maintaining a positive attitude, creating a suitable fitness routine, the good-and-bad of stress, and how to make an impact in a community. The common thread between these four lectures is the idea of balance in one's life - how to define it, how to achieve it, and how to maintain it (particularly in an environment as stressful as Bryn Mawr).

For me, balance is defined as a kind of equilibrium between the things you want to do and the things you have to do. I have always thought about balance in terms of give-and-take, a variation on the saying "You have to play as hard as you work." Yet after listening to the four lecturers, it is clear that balance is something to strive for in all areas of life - and as it is all-encompassing, the idea of balance requires more than a simple definition. Jody Law encouraged us to incorporate fitness into our daily routine, so that it would be another way to balance out the various academic activities we often have to pursue; Professor Cassidy talked about how a positive mental state increased our ability to overcome the stresses in daily life; Reggie Jones discussed how the negative aspects of stress itself can be balanced out by its tendency to motivate us; and Dean Martin spoke about how responsibilities in communities are balanced by the people who comprise them.

These speakers made it clear that balance is possible, even for students who often feel as though there is no time for anything but studying, homework, and papers. Something as simple as taking a walk after dinner is a way to incorporate fitness into your life while taking some time for yourself; setting aside time to do something fun that makes you feel positive about your life is also important; taking a moment to relieve stress ensures that it will not go out of control; and being part of a community is a way to contribute something to the environment around you - and, in a way, balance out the amount of time you spend worrying about all the work you have to do!

We also saw how balance is essential to our ability to be productive. Professor Cassidy was very enlightening in her discussion of the importance of a positive mental state when trying to achieve balance, especially when she read the data that showed how a positive mind-set enabled people to become better problem-solvers. Jody Law also made it clear that in the long run, taking part in some physical activity will enhance our quality of life. Reggie Jones helped us see that unless you make time to balance out the stress in your daily life, you run the risk of having it compromise your ability to be productive. Finally, Dean Martin conveyed that it is helpful to expand our lives by taking part in a community, so that we do not become totally absorbed in our own worries.

Overall, the Women Living Well lectures made it clear that balance does not just happen automatically in our lives; rather, it is necessary to make a conscious decision to achieve a sense of balance. Whether you find it by developing a fitness routine, taking time to read a book, or taking an active role in the community that surrounds you, balance is an essential part of a healthy, productive life. Certainly it is not always easy to make time to find and maintain that balance, but like anything worth having, it is worth working for.

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