The Nine Strategies for Balancing Your Life and Increasing Your Happiness
There are nine techniques or strategies you can use to achieve life balance and increase domain and life satisfaction:
1) Engagement in social roles in multiple life domains
The first technique is to participate in multiple life domains. In other words, do more than one thing. (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzalez-Roma, & Bakker, 2002)
This theory is explained by the principle of satisfaction limits. The theory goes, you can only ever be, for example, a -5 to a +5 on any given domain – +5 being it’s bringing you a lot of joy and -5 being it’s bringing you a lot of dissatisfaction. So the most points you can score on the board are 5. But when you tack on an additional domain, you get another +5, and another.
2) Engagement in roles in health, safety, economic, social, work, leisure, and cultural domains
The next technique speaks to the most important domains – those that serve basic and growth needs:
- Basic Needs: health, love, family, and material
- Growth Needs: social, work, leisure, and culture
In other words, do all the things that meet your basic needs.
This theory is explained by the principle of satisfaction of the full spectrum of human development needs. Individuals who are satisfied with the full spectrum of developmental needs (i.e., growth and basic needs) are likely to have a high level of life satisfaction (Alderfer, 1972; Herzberg, 1966; Maslow, 1970; Matuska, 2012; Sheldon, Cummins, & Kamble, 2010; Sheldon & Niemiec, 2006).
3) Engagement in new social roles
The third technique is to be successful in a NEW role. This is likely to produce more positive affect than success in a well-established role (e.g., Kahn, 1995; Kahn & Isen, 1993; Levav & Zhu, 2009; McAlister & Pessmier, 1982).
In other words, try new things.
This theory is explained by the principle of diminishing satisfaction. Engaging and succeeding in new roles tend to produce a jolt of positive affect much more so than engaging and succeeding in well-established roles.
4) Integrating domains with high satisfaction
According to this theory, if you’re super happy in two different domains, like work and family for example, then combine or integrate them and the effect will compound! This is explained by the principle of positive spillover. (e.g., Edwards & Rothbard, 2000; Grzywacz & Carlson, 2007).
5) Optimizing domain satisfaction by changing domain salience
In other words, if there’s an area of your life that you’re happy with, and another that you’re UNHAPPY with, then consciously choose to place more importance on the area that you’re happy with. This will increase your overall life satisfaction. This is explained by the value-based compensation principle (Sirgy, 2002).
6) Compartmentalizing domains with low satisfaction
Compartmentalize any negative areas of your life in order to keep them from impacting other parts of your life that are happier. For example, if you’re happy at home but not at work, don’t talk about work when you get home. This is explained by the segmentation principle (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000; Edwards & Rothbard, 2000; Judge et al., 2001; Sonnentag 2012).
7) Coping with domain dissatisfaction by engaging in roles in other domains likely to produce satisfaction
In other words, if you’re down in one area of your life, try bringing another area up. For example, if you’re unhappy at work, you might try to invest in and get more satisfaction out of nonwork activities like leisure, family, or religion. This is explained by the behavior-based compensation principle (Brief et al., 1993; Freund & Baltes, 2002; Judge, Thoresen, Bono, & Patton, 2001; Tait, Padgett, & Baldwin, 1989).
8) Stress management
Role conflict between domains has a negative impact on your life satisfaction. In other words, if one area of your life is interfering with another, it’s likely to cause you stress and reduce your overall happiness, even if you’re generally happy in both areas (Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1992). Life balance is achieved when each life domain is compatible with minimal conflict (Greenhaus & Allen, 2011). This conflict can come in a few forms:
- Time-based conflict:
- Time pressures from one area keep you from meeting expectations in another area.
- Stress Management Technique: Plan ahead and schedule tasks and events in ways that don’t conflict.
- Strain-based conflict:
- When tension, anxiety, and/or fatigue from one role affects performance in another role.
- Stress Management Technique: Breathing exercises, meditation, and physical exercise.
- Behavior-based conflict:
- When in-role behavior from one role is incompatible with behaviors expected in another role.
- Stress Management Technique: Become more conscious at identifying behaviors that may cause role conflict and to take action to change those behaviors in ways to avoid role conflict.
This is explained by the principle of role conflict.
9) Using skills, experiences, and resources in one role for other roles
Individuals who use their skills, experiences, and resources in one role for other roles across life domains are likely to experience greater domain satisfaction (in dissatisfied domains) than those who do not. This is explained by the principle of role enrichment (Hanson & Hammer, 2006).
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