How to Have More Energy (Part 1)

Have you ever met a guy who seems to be pissed off or miserable all the time? They act like they have a unique form of lifetime constipation. They get sick frequently, they seem tired constantly, they’re rude, they get offended easily, and/or they seemingly hate what they’re doing all the time. I’m going to tell you what his problem is and how to avoid it: he has poor energy control. Here’s how to have more energy:

 

Energy control is the single most influential thing you can do to increase your energy, strength and stamina, prevent illness, boost your concentration and memory, improve your mood and your interactions with other people, and supercharge your productivity, ability to handle greater demands, and quality of life; it can bring you unimaginable success, achievement and happiness. A lack of energy control will impede you, undermine you in every facet of your life, and make everything harder.

 

Anyone, high performance athletes, corporate executives, performers and entertainers, students, entrepreneurs and business professionals, scientists and engineers, can benefit from learning to control, manage and cultivate their energy.

 

There are four divisions that make up a person’s energy:

  • Physical: Physical health and ability. Determines if you can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, how quickly you recover from injury or intense exercise, how easily you get sick, etc.
  • Mental: Mental/cognitive ability. Determines the ability to concentrate, memorize and retain information, and apply your knowledge to solving problems and accomplishing difficult tasks.
  • Emotional: Thoughts, feelings, attitude, and mood. Heavily influenced by physical and mental energy, and by the people in your life.
  • Spiritual: The meaning, direction and control you have over your life. Influences the previous three energies.

 

With low physical energy, you can’t physically exert yourself as hard or for as long, you take longer to heal from injury and recover from exercise, and you get sick easily.

 

With low mental energy, you have a hard time concentrating and memorizing information. You also have a hard time applying knowledge to problem solving and accomplishment. You also “space out” a lot and seem ditzy.

 

With low emotional energy, you’ll experience negative emotions like anger, jealousy and depression. You won’t be as excited or enthusiastic about taking on challenges and tasks.

 

With low spiritual energy, you won’t know what to do and feel you have no control over your life.

 

Principles of Energy Control

Energy control requires a balancing act between heavy use followed by sufficient rest. You go all out, you rest and recover, and repeat.

 

Human beings evolved to behave this way: bouts of intense, all-out activity followed by idle rest. Think back to prehistoric times. Human beings were generally idle and at rest whenever possible, with bursts of intense activity when running away from a predatory animal, hunting, or fighting a rival tribe.

 

Energy is lowered both when it’s used too much AND when it’s not used enough. For example, exercising too much will make you tired, but so will exercising too little.

 

If one of the four energies is low, it’ll lower the other three; you can’t concentrate effectively or be in a good mood if you’re sick. If you can’t concentrate, you won’t be able to physically perform at your best.

 

Poor Energy Control

Most people today have horrible energy management. Often, some energies are overused and the others are underused. For example, an overworked corporate executive is under constant pressure to deliver results and has a lot of responsibilities to handle; he’s overusing his emotional and mental energy. He constantly runs himself ragged, feels like he has no control over his life, and has no time to exercise and doesn’t eat right; he’s under using his physical and spiritual energy.

 

Poor Rest

People don’t rest properly. Instead of getting a good night’s rest, they use their phones, laptops and other electronics. The light from these devices tricks your nervous system into believing that you’re in daylight, and your body remains awake and alert when it should be preparing to enter sleep; you don’t get any quality rest.

 

Poor Energy Use

People also allow their stress to destroy them. Stress is a natural human response to dangerous situations: in the prehistoric period, you experience stress when a saber tooth tiger wants to make you its dinner, or when you’re in a life-or-death struggle with a rival tribesman; it’s your flight-or-fight response. Once you’re able to resolve the dangerous situation, you escape from or kill the saber tooth tiger or you defeat the rival tribesman, you’re body relaxes; heavy use is followed by rest.

 

The problem is that you experience this same flight-or-fight response even during non-life threatening situations; you hit traffic and you’re going to be late for work, you’re alarm didn’t go off, you have a project deadline in less than 24 hours and you have 48 hours worth of work left to do, etc. People don’t properly use the energy they gain from the stress; it’s like a pipe that has too much air pressure built up and is about to burst. Additionally, people have a hard time ending that energy rush and entering a state of rest; you get cut off by a guy on the highway on your morning commute, and you’re pissed about it even after you get home.

 

This violates the balancing act of heavy use followed by rest; you have excess energy that you don’t use, and you’re never able to enter a state of rest. This is why many people have poor health, they get sick easily, they feel overworked and burned out, they feel negative emotions, and they don’t feel any sense of purpose, direction or control over their lives.

 

A Textbook Example

I once worked with a guy on my second day on the job, let’s call him Andy. Andy refused to eat or drink anything throughout the whole day, even though we were working outdoors in 88 degrees Fahrenheit weather. He always had this look on his face like he hasn’t been able to take a shit in a week. When I car pooled with him, he was coughing like he was sick, he was yawning and seemed exhausted. If I asked him a question as innocuous like what was the last reading he got, he got annoyed or just ignored me.

 

Months later during the winter, he was only wearing a t-shirt and a light, unbuttoned jacket in 30 degrees Fahrenheit; for reference, I had on a 2 sweaters, a jacket, gloves and a hat.

 

Andy’s problem was that he seemed incapable of taking care of himself and managing his energy; he doesn’t eat or stay hydrated, he doesn’t seem to sleep well, and he doesn’t dress warm during the winter. I can guarantee he’ll die of a heart attack in his early 50’s if he keeps this up.

 

To not end up like Andy, we need to understand how to rest properly and maximize each of the four energy divisions:

 

Resting

Sleep. The quantity of time slept is not nearly as important as the quality of sleep; it’s better to get 4 hours of quality sleep than 8 hours of poor sleep. Maximizing sleep requires a few things:

  1. The right temperature. The ideal sleep temperature is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sleeping in light, breathable fabric.
  3. Absolute darkness. The best sleep condition is absolute darkness. Put up blackout curtains in front of your bedroom’s windows.
  4. Make your sleeping environment as quiet as possible. Wear ear plugs if necessary.

 

When awake, learn to rest as much as possible during idle moments like waiting for a file to download, waiting for class to start, waiting on line at a food stand, etc.

 

Rest by slowing your breathing. Breathe in for 2 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, then breathe out. Relax your whole body, especially your back, neck, stomach and shoulders, but don’t let yourself fall if you’re standing. Quiet your mind: don’t think about anything. If a thought enters your mind, relax and let it fade away, don’t commit any effort to it.

 

This is similar to meditation, but it’s not as strict. You can do this anywhere: you can do this while standing around and/or waiting for something. You can do it while walking from place to place.

 

General Stress Management

Imagine any stress or frustration you’re feeling as a concentrated ball of energy located at your center. Most people let this ball build up pressure. They expend valuable willpower to suppress this energy and let it writhe within them.

 

Instead, you’re going to use this energy and make it work for you. As you breathe, imagine the energy circulating and spreading throughout your whole body, powering and energizing you.

 

Use this newfound energy to accomplish your goals: go to the gym and lift like a madman, put on some boxing gloves and wail on a heavy bag, complete your work with absolute focus and commitment, etc. Expend all of your energy, rest to regain it, then repeat.

 

That’s the end of Part 1. Part 2 goes over:

  • Boosting energy in each of the four divisions
  • Willpower
  • One last source of energy

 

Thumbnail image by Matt Heaton

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