A balanced life seems to consist of many different areas: work, play, friends, relationship, family, personal growth, physical health, relaxation, home, etc. All of these areas are important to work on and expand, but any time I tilt too strongly into one direction I end up getting some sort of hangover from it. The days when I'm able to address most of these areas in some ways feel like the most enjoyable ones for me.
I find that living a fulfilling life requires A Lot of discipline. Things don't just happen automatically, at least not in my life--I truly have to put in serious effort to feel happy and content on a day-to-day-basis. What makes me happy is forward movement in all of the areas I mentioned earlier. If any of the areas feel stuck, a positive flow is interrupted and a sort of 'Blech...!' takes over the whole picture.
I always love the relaxation, Savasana (corpse pose), at the end of a yoga class. It often feels like the Best Relaxation Ever! It is because I've just seriously exerted myself and feel entitled to it. So it is in life too. Play isn't so much fun, unless you've worked hard to earn it; friendships, family and relationship would all be pretty stagnant without personal growth... Physical health would hardly improve without relaxation, and home...well, if the home is a mess, I feel pretty crappy in all of the other areas. Thus it seems like all of these areas are needed to complement each other.
One of the hardest working friends of mine often says that by nature he would be the "lie-in-bed-naked-and-eat-potato-chips-all-day"-dude. I can certainly relate to that. There's always some part of me that doesn't want to be bothered to do anything. But, knowing the hangovers of an unbalanced life on the one hand, and the fulfilling feeling of accomplishment on the other, well...my choice is clear. It's just a matter of remembering this and making the effort consistently, every day.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
- Albert Einstein (theoretical physicist, 1879–1955)