Week 19 - Energy management
There is a known truth in the world. When we are young, we have time, energy but no money. As we get older, we have money and energy but no time. In the last third of life, when we have time and money, energy becomes scarce.
Why might this be? In youth we are still finding our way, figuring things out, deciding what to do. We are mostly fending for ourselves, finding our place in the world.
Then as we get older, we settle down - take on more responsibilites, exchange our time for money and learning and status and prestige and company and family. We also learn to settle down in how we think about ourselves. We have 'found' ourselves, our place in the world and we settle down. Our day to day routines, habits, preferences harden - providing a shell to withstand the pressure of the world and responsibilities. This shell protects us and separates us from the world.
By the time we reach the third phase of life, we have forgotten our ability to change. We have lost the pulse of the world, the next generation, the energy that comes from outside. We are so used to the burden of responsibility, the stresses and pressures of the world - our shell is ossified so much that we don't notice it anymore. We don't evaluate and decide if we still want those responsibilites and the added weight strains us. We stop questioning. And the body has been failing.
The story of humanity.
However, there are a few who have thought about this - and give us a few ways to open windows in our shell. So how do we manage our energies?
- Get rest, true rest.
- Periodically question and evaluate responsibilities
- Periodically evaluate our our ways of being, our patterns of thinking and being, of how we move in the world
- Periodically evaluate how we feel, and our intensities and feelings
- Keep in touch with what energizes you. Art? Exercise? Nature? Solitude? Wind? Community?
- Be a part of the world - move with it, be with it, in touch with all generations.
Of course, this simple list is one of the hardest things we can do. Doesn't mean it's not worth it.
1. The Lost Art of True Rest by Leo Babauta
I have caught myself taking breaks or finishing for the day, only to get on my phone or laptop for mindless stuff. It feels like the thing I want to do when I have rest time … but it’s not really rest.
For many Romanov exiles—hounded, stripped of their wealth, living under the constant fear of further reprisals—art became, in part, a coping mechanism. Later, as the memory of the massacre gave way in its immediacy, new generations of Romanovs took to art for reasons not so different from the rest of us: to meditate, to understand, and to express.
A HBR article from 2007.
The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals—behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.
The principles of energy management:
Principle 1: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Principle 2: Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
Principle 3: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
Principle 4: Positive energy rituals—highly specific routines for managing energy— are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
A great article to read about emotional energies. This infographic explaining the two dimensions of emotions - positive/negative and intensity - is what I found the most valuable.
A way to handle high-intensity energies - through breathing.
Back from 2013....
The ideas that change the world are changing the world because someone cared enough to stick it out, to cajole and lead and evolve.
Written on June 28, 2020.
This was Issue #19 of the Year of the Turtle. You can see all the past newsletters on this website.
The paintings here are by Stella Im Hultberg.
The fonts used here are from David Jonathan Ross' Font of the Month Club