Energy Soup: recipe for a dynamic life
Oh, to be energized! To feel energized! To be “in the zone”, from morning until night. Everyone wants to experience the feeling on a consistent basis. We get more done. We feel more alert and alive. We feel healthier and more satisfied. Our sense of well being is heightened.
Energy is one of those intangibles. You may not be able to see it or define it, but you sure can sense its presence. You know what it feels to have it, and to be without it.
It is an interesting concept, this thing called energy. Scientists tell us that it is neither created nor destroyed. It is always constant, but continually shifting in form. Remember when we thought everything was matter? Now we’re told that everything in the universe, including us, is made up vibrations of pure energy. Awesome.
Bottom line: we want more of it. And of course we want to have focused energy that results in tangible results and feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment.
We also know there is a pretty strong link between feeling energized and being successful. When we are “up” emotionally we are more productive. And happiness is a natural by-product. So it is only right that we wish to have more of it. Abundant energy enables us to succeed at whatever it is we set our minds to.
My goal is to share with you what I know about energy. Moreover, I wish for you to have sustained energy, because therein lies the real secret to getting the results in life. Enduring energy is the real key.
It’s one thing to have bursts of energy that bring us short term gains. It’s quite another to experience the steady and reliable flow that underwrites lasting results.
We all know what it’s like to start the day with favorable winds. Our plans are ambitious and our resolve is strong. But as the day wears on we get distracted from our goals and lose focus. Before long, the energy wanes and we’re coming up short of our expectations.
Well it’s time to get focused, stay energized and maintain the momentum that will lead to greater fulfillment and satisfaction.
Throughout the course of every day our energy ebbs and flows in a steady dance with the universe. These fluctuations of energy are to some extent outside of us. We are subject to shifting energy patterns that relate to bio rhythms and circadian rhythms and forces greater than any one of us individually.
Fortunately, there are other factors, within our sphere of influence, that we can control. Let’s talk about them.
The real quality of the energy we experience at any given moment can usually be correlated with what is happening in our life and, more importantly, our perception to what is going on in our life. It’s not only our actions that affect our energy and our emotions, but how we react to any given situation that determines whether we are energized or deflated, whether we feel encouraged or discouraged.
Unless you happen to be a cyborg, just about everything you do or say or think has some effect on your emotions, and thus your energy. There’s an interesting connection between our emotions and our energy, as the two are inextricably linked.
If we were charting the flow of energy throughout the day, with a line representing the level of our energy, we would expect to see a line that rises and falls, depending on the kind of experience we are having.
Let’s consider a few scenarios that where the quality of our energy is likely to be high. These would be:
- involvement in an aerobic activity
- reading a good novel
- being immersed in an enjoyable project
- participating in a lively conversation
- remembering an experience that was fun
- receiving a compliment from someone we respect
- being in nature
- successfully completing a task
- expressing one’s self creatively
- visualizing a desirable experience
What gives them value, energetically, is that they:
-stimulate us, physically or mentally
-play to our area of competence
-provide us with some meaningful results or rewards
-tap our creative interests
-trigger positive emotion
-have a strong social element
Looking at scenarios where the opposite is true, we find situations that have a tendency to drain one’s energy, such as:
- driving in rush hour
- watching TV for hours
- living in a messy environment
- living with a demanding person
- being involved in a task that is “over our head”
- having a conversation with someone who is negative
- being criticized by a boss or family member
- working on an assembly line
- procrastinating on an important task
These draw from the human energy supply because they cause us to feel one or more of the following:
Simply being more aware of these dynamics can help us.
To the extent that we become more conscious of what stokes the furnace and what drains it, the more we are in a position to do things which boost our energy rather than deplete it.
Here then is a recipe for creating a highly energetic you.
Think of these as the ingredients for Energy Soup. They are the elements that will give you energy not just today but tomorrow and the next day as well. These ingredients compliment one another beautifully and, when combined together, constitute a powerful recipe for a life full of vitality.
The first ingredient has to do with having a life mission. Having a mission is the primary ingredient of energy soup. The single greatest factor that separates those with abundant energy and those with average energy has to do with mission. In the soup of life, mission is the base which, more than anything, determines how filling and satisfying the soup will be.
The zeal of a missionary comes from the power of their mission. The clearer that mission is envisioned – the better. Having a huge purpose can generate massive amounts of energy, especially if the commitment to the purpose is strong. It’s all about passion, Baby! If your mission involves providing a valuable service or product to others, then the mission, and the energy it produces, is all the stronger.
Now if you were to ask most people what their mission in life is – you’re not likely to get too many who will be able to articulate theirs. That’s quite unfortunate because the absence of one means that most people are destined to always work for someone who does have one.
There are a fortunate few who discover their “calling” early in life. Most of us don’t come to realize it until well into adulthood, when we connect the dots of our lives, or someone, like a good coach, helps us to realize the destiny that is ours to create.
Everyday is an opportunity to take steps in a direction that really lights our fire, making use of talents that are uniquely ours. But it will only happen if we have a compelling reason for getting out of bed in the morning. What a sad thought that so many people go through the motions of life that merely sustain their existence. If your energy is flagging, it may be that your mission just doesn’t inspire you.
The second ingredient of energy soup is what I think of as joie de vivre, quite literally, joy of life. Basically, it’s a mental thing. Incorporate it into your life and it can mean the difference between a life that tastes like an instant soup mix, and one that has simmered for hours at the hands of a master chef. I’ll take the one the one with full body and aroma, thank you.
Have you ever noticed that the people who are the happiest are those who have a certain zest for life? They don’t always have the most money but they sure know how to live. It’s all in the approach. It explains why a janitor can have a better outlook on life than a millionaire. The difference is in the attitude.
The best moments of all are those when we are fully focused in the moment, engaged in an activity that taps our interests and challenges our abilities. It’s a wonderful place to be – in the zone, in this “flow” state.
Of course, you can’t always to expect to be able to do the things you find most stimulating. There’s a certain amount of daily existence, not necessarily related to our mission, which cannot be ignored. You know, the stuff of life. The meals need to be prepared, the toilet has to get cleaned, the bills must be paid, etc. The question is how do you approach such activities?
Mowing the lawn is a chore to some. Others view it as a chance to get some exercise while improving the beauty of the yard. Same activity – two different perspectives. It depends how you look at it.
There’s a word that comes to mind here and it is love. How many times do you use the word love in your daily vocabulary? We might say “Love ya” when we finish a phone conversation with a family member. Or we might use it in reference to a food, i.e. “I just love that pastry”. But how often do you use the word to express the passion for what you do at work or at home?
Maybe it’s time to infuse life with more genuine “love” and greet that which comes our way with a more passion. All it takes is a slight shift in attitude.
Just as some are fortunate to know their mission early in life, so too are there people who are blessed with an innate love of life or pure engagement in whatever they happen to be doing. Even if it doesn’t come naturally for you, it’s a philosophy toward life that can be cultivated. It is a choice that everyone can make.
Now the third ingredient is perhaps the most obvious. It has to do with how we treat ourselves, specifically, how we feed and care for our bodies. When we commit to a lifestyle that includes regular exercise and healthy food, and plenty of time to recharge the batteries, we give ourselves a tremendous advantage in the marathon of life.
I’ve never met a single adult who did not believe that their life could not be improved by eating wholesome foods, staying active physically and getting adequate rest and recreation. Most people know and believe it intuitively.
If “going on a mission” is the spiritual component of our energy soup, and being “fully engaging in each moment” is the mental ingredient, then the proper care and feeding of our body represents the physical element. Each of them is distinct. Together they are rocket fuel for our journey.
There’s an expression that “if you have your health you have everything”. We are reminded of that every time our health is threatened. When we get sick or are disabled, even temporarily, we realize how precious health really is.
We are a product of both our genes and our environment. One of these we don’t have much say in. The other, well, that’s a very different story. It is possible to control what we eat and our activity level, every single day. There’s plenty of evidence to show that a healthy lifestyle can raise the level of our well being. The real bonus is that it can do wonders for our energy level as well.
Given that our body is the vehicle for life’s long ride, we owe it to ourselves to nurture it wisely. If you want the maximum mileage, keep your vehicle tuned up and properly maintained. And, of course, use premium fuel. Fast food, stimulants, intoxicants, sugars, and highly processed foods are poor choices for the power plant that we rely on for our energy needs.
Let’s review the main ingredients of Energy Soup.
To live a life, full of energy, is a universal quest. Those who succeed at it are virtually assured of experiencing great joy and satisfaction and a quality of life that is high. It may be true that some people are simply endowed with more energy than others, but high quality energy is available to all who know how to “generate” it from readily available ingredients.
Abundant energy can be found in a rather simple recipe that can be applied to everyone’s life. To summarize, those ingredients boil down to the following three ingredients. They comprise a soup with balanced amounts of body, mind and spirit.
Go on one! It will inspire you and breathe life into your existence.
It doesn’t so much matter whether your mission is to go to the moon, run a business, write a novel, or teach 5th graders. If it really motivates you, you will be energized by being immersed in the pursuit of it. If that mission is to enrich the lives of others, you will have an even more bountiful reservoir of energy to underwrite the endeavor.
Reaffirm your mission each day, as you begin your day, and it will become a powerful generator in your life.
Embrace uncertainty as if it were your friend. Choose an attitude that welcomes every twist and turn in the road, even if it is not part of the game plan. Even the mundane can be made to be exciting, even adventurous, with the right mindset.
The best moments of all are those when we are fully focused in the moment, regardless of the setting. Every situation is an opportunity to “live, love, learn and leave a legacy” as Stephen Covey would say.
Take good care of your body
You could have the best recipe in the world but if you don’t use quality ingredients, then the finished product will suffer. So it is with our bodies, the physical manifestation of our total being.
When we make it a priority to eat wisely, exercise faithfully, and get adequate rest and recreation, we do ourselves a huge favor. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle are felt in many ways, the most significant of which is a steady flow of energy for activities in life that matter most.
I’ve provided you here with a recipe for energy soup. But in truth, you are the soup. You are not distinct from your actions. You are the culmination of everything you believe and feel and do. To the extent that you can be more aware of what it is that drives you or drains you, energetically, the more you can consciously choose responses that improve the quality of your energy.
You can become the next best thing to a perpetual energy machine by following the recipe that has been provided. Distill what you’ve read here into a few simple notes that you can carry with you for the next week. Put them in your own words and refer to them often. In so doing you will begin to integrate what you’ve learned here into your life, beginning this very moment.