I have been asked several times this week by readers how I find the time to respond to each person personally. The answer is simple, responding to readers takes away time, but it provides energy - which is far more important. In short, it is time-negative and energy-positive.
A little while ago, I stopped managing time and shifted to managing energy instead. When you begin to frame the world that way, you start to realize the power you have to create your own experience. By choosing where you focus your energy on, you can feel deep joy or draining exhaustion.
Let’s take working out for example. If you are managing time, it is always time-negative. But if you are managing energy, it could be an energy-positive or an energy-negative experience. If you are focused on what a chore it is, each workout will drag on forever. If you are focused on how your body is getting stronger, how good it will look, and how much stress is pouring out of your body - then you will feel energized.
According to UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb, we truly can’t focus on positive and negative feelings at the same time. So, if you focus on being aware of how activities affect your energy (and not time), you will slowly start to live your life in a more energized state. Only you can choose the kind of energy you want to create for yourself. Whenever I forget this, I’m reminded of this wise Native American parable:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
This is true about pretty much everything in life - but especially relationships. Start noticing your immediate reaction to your partner. Is it resentment that they haven’t done the dishes? Or is it gratitude that they cooked dinner for you last night? Is it joy that they are with you in the present moment? Or anger that they stay at work too much? Which wolf do you feed?
I hope that the wolf filled with joy is the one that wins for you today.