Did you know that, as a rule of thumb, a tree’s root system is something like one and a half times the depth and width of the tree? This is the real source of its strength and stability to withstand the forces of nature and more. What you see is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Of crucial importance is the fact that purpose of the root system is to seek out and supply the energy needed by the tree to grow, survive and blossom to its full potential. Without a constant supply of new energy the tree will wither and die.
It’s much the same for you. It’s what others can’t see that is the major source of your personal strength, power and energy, with the long-term resilience to survive, thrive in and drive your life. Health experts focus on physical energy. Important though that is, it isn’t enough. You need the sustained emotional energy of mind, body and spirit.
If you drove a car non-stop, it would eventually run out of fuel. Pulling over for a break does nothing to refuel the car. You have to find a refueling station. You also have to maintain the efficiency of the car’s performance.
You too need to top up your energy supplies – plus regular maintenance – to sustain your work performance efficiency and general ability to enjoy life. Moreover, the faster and harder you drive a car, the greater its fuel consumption per km.
You too are driving yourself faster and harder. Longer working hours, prolonged excessive stress and increased tension means that you need to replace that energy more often. But the typical modern lifestyle tends to give you fewer chances or incentives to do so. The effects are insidious.
What are the signs to watch for? More frequent outbursts of anger, road rage, the ugly parent syndrome at junior sport, sleeplessness, over-eating and excessive drinking….you can make up your own list. Without due management, these symptoms can become stress-related illnesses, accidents resulting from being tired and inattentive, relationship breakdowns, divorce, depression and even death.
So where’s the ‘inner strength’ that enables you to ‘stay on top and on tap’, as they say?
When you lose yourself in an interest you love, you find yourself”. When you are enjoying an interest so deeply that time seems to stand still and you are totally unconscious of anything else going on around you, the real you comes alive. There’s a new vitality in your thinking, a sense of enthusiasm, passion and wonder.
Your creative juices come to the fore, generating a sense of emotional peace in doing something for no-one but yourself and your own sheer pleasure. You are in control – itself a major source of inner energy (just as not being in control is a major energy-burning factor). Experts speak of a “state of flow” in which time seems to stand still, forgetting your problems for the time being, while your mind relaxes. You feel great.
A passionate interest isn’t determined by how much it absorbs your life. It’s more to do with the enjoyment of utilizing your natural talents in ways that allow your unique abilities to grow and flourish. Nor does it have to be a work interest. In fact a non-work leisure, recreation or sporting interest can be even more powerful because you are totally in control of the experience. It can be any interest in which you are enjoying creatively expressing the real you.
Finally, there is an underlying principle of positive human behaviour at work here. This comprises four interactive elements:
- The mind is processing information enthusiastically and with purpose
- There is energy driving the process
- The experience generates high self esteem, self confidence and a sense of self worth, and
- You grow and develop your natural potential.
In sum, don’t ignore the life-giving value of switching off from time to time and then switching on to your favourite leisure interest for no other reason than it's intrinsic enjoyment and the fact that it makes you feel good about yourself. You’ll find you work better, live longer and (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling) be the one who ‘keeps his/her head while all about are losing theirs’.