When I’m tired and low on energy, even the best things in life don’t bring me joy. I never understood this for years. I regularly kept asking myself “Why am I not enjoying my work today?”
It’s because I was low on energy on those days. Looking back, I don’t understand why I didn’t get this earlier. It’s so obvious. Energy is everything. It matters more than status, power, and even money. Jerry Seinfeld, who has all those things, said the following in an interview:
“I think money is great. But physical and mental energy is the greatest riches of human life.”
In the interview, he mentions multiple times that he derives most satisfaction from doing good work and feeling good. He says there’s nothing better than a good day’s work.
But you need energy to do that. In fact, you need energy to do anything. When you’re tired, you don’t even want to get up from the couch: “It doesn’t hurt to hold my pee for another hour, right?” I’m not a pee doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good for you.
The problem with energy is that we only miss it when we don’t have it. The day I’m writing this, I’ve been feeling like my normal self. I had a cold for the past week. I had a headache, runny nose, and wasn’t in the mood for anything. I lost focus and became pessimistic. I started questioning my work and felt an urge to get away from it all.
Fortunately, because I’m currently working on this topic, I caught myself slipping and reminded myself that I felt bad because of my low energy levels.
Too often, we think something is wrong with our life or career while nothing might be wrong—you just need to recharge and everything will be fine. @DariusForoux (Click to Tweet!)
And that’s what happened to me too.
Personal energy is difficult to measure. Even scientists who researched energy admit that “Although energy is a concept that is implied in many motivational theories, is hardly ever explicitly mentioned or researched.”
But if you want to improve anything in life, you must measure it first. Otherwise, how do you know what improvement looks like? But because there’s no single way to measure energy, it doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to measure our own energy.
The 3 Types Of Personal Energy
I’ve been doing my own research into personal energy. I’ve read books like The Power of Full Engagement and Flow. I’ve read scientific articles I found on Google Scholar. But most importantly, I’ve been working as a trainer since 2015, and taught over 2,500 people to become more productive.
Here’s what I’ve found: Our energy levels variate a lot. And we’re not aware of its importance. That’s the reason I started looking into personal energy in the first place.
At some point, I realized that my energy level was far from consistent. Some days I felt great, energized, and excited. Other days I felt tired, down, and I wasn’t in the mood for anything.
On top of that, there were periods, sometimes weeks or even months, I felt energized. But I also had weeks I was low on energy. I realized that there’s not one single measure of personal energy. I’ve found three types of energy. And if one is out of whack, your whole system takes a hit. They are:
- Mental Energy—Your ability to concentrate, focus, work, pay attention, listen, etc.
- Physical Energy—Your ability to perform physical tasks.
- Emotional Energy—Your ability to show compassion to yourself and to others.
How can we improve every type of personal energy? Even though there are many different factors that influence our energy levels, I’m sharing one tip for improving each energy type.
1. Meditation Improves Mental Energy
There are many different types of meditation. My favorite is Mindfulness meditation. Research into the benefits of Mindfulness is vast. I don’t need to mention that here. Thousands of years of practice and research have shown that meditation is an excellent tool for improving our focus and awareness.
And that’s exactly what will give you more mental energy. When your thoughts are scattered and consume you, life sucks. It’s like living in a world that always has foggy weather. Imagine what that would look like.
You can’t see clearly. You can only see what’s right in front of you. On top of that, everything is grey. When you don’t meditate, that’s how you’re living.
When you remove the fog, and let in the sunshine, you all of a sudden see how beautiful your world is. If you don’t meditate, you probably think I’m full of shit. I’m with you. I used to make fun of people who meditate too. “Sitting still? Doing nothing? I might as well hug trees!”
Just give it a try. And keep returning to it. If you’re meditating already and you’re still low on energy, try another form of meditating. I also like walking and running meditation. Meditation is like working out, not everyone likes the same type of exercise.
2. Exercise Improves Physical Energy
Again, you don’t need me to tell you that exercise will make you stronger. The problem is that most of us don’t make time to do it. You and I both know you have time to work out.
One of my students who has two kids recently told me she used her busy life as an excuse for doing hard things: “It’s soooo easy to tell yourself, I need to work, cook, clean, and to take care of the kids.”
We’ve all been there. We say that we don’t have the time. But why is it that we do have time for watching two hours of tv every day? Why do we have 90 minutes a day for social media? The truth is that we make time.
It’s all about awareness, as my student realized: “The way I look at it now is that I’m working out before I’m going to turn on Netflix.” Prioritize exercise, my friend. You’ve heard it thousands of times. But if you don’t place it up there with sleeping, eating, and breathing, you’ll never do it consistently.
3. Human Interaction Improves Emotional Energy
This is so important in today’s society. In large cities, people are growing more emotionally apart while being so physically close to each other. Again, there’s a lot of research about the impact of social interactions on our well-being.
We are inherently compassionate beings. We all have the capacity to care and to share. But if we’re isolated, we can’t do any of that. The more you close yourself off to other people, the worse you will feel.
In today’s world, people get upset so easily. We all have an ego and we’re quick to identify ourselves as something. You know what that causes? Only more distance. If others want to do that, let them. But never let other people destroy your compassion.
I’ve been running a business with my family for nine years. That has tested our relationships often. But it has also improved our compassion. I encourage everyone to care more for others. Call your co-worker or friend every once in a while (yes, even if they don’t call you first).
Spend time with people without a particular reason or agenda, simply for the sake of human interaction. And meet new people. That’s something I also want to do more of. Human interaction gives us energy. Especially when we interact with other people who have a positive outlook on life.
Aim For Consistency
When I focus on the three things above, my energy levels are great. When my energy is low, I always return to meditation, exercise, and human interaction. If you’re not feeling well, the solution is somewhere in those three things.
The most important thing to remember is that cultivating, managing, and boosting personal energy is complex. There is no exact way to boost your mood. But what I can tell you is that you can’t neglect one of the three types of energy and expect to feel good. You might meditate and exercise, but if you live in isolation, you still miss the energy you get from social interactions.
You need mental, physical, and emotional energy to feel good. And when you feel good, bad times will not hurt you that much. Plus, good times will feel even better. All of this is a recipe for a consistently good life. Start managing your energy and see it for yourself.
Image courtesy of Seth Doyle.