My father grew up the son of a sharecropper working a farm with mules during the Great Depression. That experience greatly influenced how he raised me and my siblings. One thing we were taught was to always “turn out that light!” when leaving a room. It didn’t matter if we were just going to the bathroom and would be right back, we were still supposed to turn out the light.” This had nothing to do with conserving energy. It was all about saving money.
In today’s world everyone is inundated with messages about conserving natural resources and not wasting them. Our houses have water restrictors in our faucets and shower heads, energy conserving light bulbs in light fixtures, and we are very conscious of the gas mileage of any vehicle we might purchase.
However, this article is not about that kind of energy wasting. It’s about wasting your mental and emotional energy.
I believe each of us has a fixed amount of mental and emotional energy with which we start each day. If we waste it, we will not be able to function at our optimal level. Trying to deal with life on an empty mental/emotional tank will produce chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, and a sour disposition.
Here are the signs of an energy waster:
- Trying to change another person (There is only one person you can change, and that is you.)
- A chronic worrier (Worry never produces any positive benefits.)
- Being a procrastinator (It requires energy to find ways to put things off.)
- Holding onto a grudge (The only person affected by holding a grudge is you.)
- Doing things for others in order to receive their praise and thanks (It is only when we do good and expect nothing in return that we are operating out of pure motives. Doing the right thing should be reward enough in itself.)
- Being continually angry and frustrated because a person won’t make changes to suit you (The world doesn’t have to operate according to your plan. It’s not all about you.)
- Carrying resentment (Resentment is a cancer that will destroy your life.)
- Constantly beating yourself with a regret stick (Regret is a millstone that will keep you chained to the past and make you unable to move forward with your life. Self-forgiveness is the answer.)
- Fuming about the little stuff in life (And remember, it’s all little stuff.)
If you fit any of the descriptions above and suffer from some of the maladies mentioned earlier, you need to start working on changing. But don’t try to change all your bad habits at once or you might get discouraged. (Rarely can we make wholesale changes in ourselves.) I suggest you pick one of the areas you need to change and focus on it for a period of one month. Then you can move on to another area.
It’s possible, and I emphasize the word “possible,” that if you make the necessary changes in your life, you might be able to cut your pharmacy bill and doctor’s visits in half. Plus you will have a greater store of energy you can put to a productive use.