The Rejuvenating Power of Relaxation
By: Brian Tracy
Most successful people can be characterized as having very high levels of energy. Since energy is the fuel with which everything is achieved, there seems to be a direct relationship between energy levels and levels of accomplishment. It is hard to imagine a tired, burned-out person achieving much in life. On the other hand, energetic, positive, forward-moving individuals seem to get and enjoy far more of the things life has to offer than does the average person.
We have been led to believe that there is basically one kind of energy. We supposedly replenish this energy by sleeping at night, and during the day, we use it up again. It is as though we are machines powered by batteries, and each night we recharge our batteries for seven or eight hours. However, there are some problems with this view of energy. The biggest problem is that it does not deal with the fact that there are actually three different kinds of energy, each of which is necessary for maximum performance.
The three main forms are physical energy, emotional energy, and mental energy. Each of these energies is different, but they are interrelated, and they depend on each other.
Physical energy is raw energy, coarse energy, bulk energy, what we call meat-and-potatoes energy. Your physical energy is what you use to do physical labor. It is the primary energy applied by men and women who earn their livings by the sweat of their brow.
Physical energy is an unrefined form of energy. People who work at hard physical jobs usually eat large quantities of food and burn up this food energy in the course of their working day. At the end of the day, they are physically tired, and they spend the evening and night replenishing themselves with food and rest so that they can get up and work again the next day. This is the situation of more that three quarters of the world’s population.
The sad fact is that if you use up all your energy in physical work, you have no energy left for higher purposes.
For example, imagine that physical energy is bulk energy, and if you do hard, physical labor, you require 1,000 units of physical energy from food and rest each day to do your job and perform your natural functions. If you use up your entire 1,000 units by the end of the day, you will be too tired, emotionally or mentally, to do much more than sit around and watch television during the evening. However, if you do not use up all your physical energy, thanks to laborsaving devices, machinery, automation, computers, and so on, the remainder of it will be available for higher purposes.
The second form of energy is emotional energy. This is the energy of enthusiasm and excitement. This is the energy that lends sparkle to the life of an individual. This is the energy that is necessary for feeling love, happiness, and joy. Largely, it is your emotional energy that makes life enjoyable for you. In fact, almost everything you say and do is determined in some way by an emotion, either positive or negative.
And here’s the important point. Positive emotions give you energy, while negative emotions deplete your energy. When you are excited and happy and are interacting with people you love and enjoy, you sparkle with energy and enthusiasm. When you are angry or depressed, or negative for any reason, you feel tired and frustrated and, eventually, burned out.
To continue the example of energy units, if it takes 1,000 units of physical energy to operate your body and you do not do physical labor, that physical energy can be refined in your body to produce 100 units of emotional energy. Emotional energy is a far more refined form of energy, and it is absolutely essential to healthy emotional functioning.
We all have had the experience of exerting ourselves so hard physically, perhaps playing a sport, that we were emotionally flat. We were unable to become angry or excited about anything. We were completely tired out. However, in our knowledge-based society, most of us do very little physical labor. Our kitchens are full of appliance to help us do the work of preparing our food. We drive cars to work. We take elevators up to our offices. There, we sit in chairs for most of the day. And we have to force ourselves to take a walk or exercise at the gym just to keep our bodies in motion. Because of this knowledge-based lifestyle, we have much more energy available to fuel our emotional centers.
If you do not consume all your energy units in the expression of negative emotions, such as fear, doubt, anger, and resentment, your emotional energies are conserved. If your energy is conserved at one level, your body continues to refine it into higher and better energy. 100 units of emotional energy thus conserved will be refined by your body into 10 units of mental energy.
Mental energy is the energy of creativity, of problem solving and decision making. You use mental energy to make sales, write reports and proposals, plan your day and your week, and learn new subjects. Your level of mental energy is a major determinant of the quality of your life.
The reason why most people fail to realize their potential in life and work is because they burn up their energy at the emotional level, or the physical level; therefore, they have very little energy left over for mental activities. Most people burn up their emotional energy through the expression of negative emotions. Negative emotions are like a fire that burns up their energy so quickly that they have very little left with which to think positively and constructively. In fact, one five-minute uncontrolled outburst of anger can burn up as much energy as an average person would use in eight hours of work.
You’ve probably heard someone described as shaking with anger. When a person is shaking with anger, it is an indication that he has burned up the glucose or sugar-based energy in his system, and he is actually weak from his angry outburst.
Another characteristic of very successful people is that they keep themselves calm much longer than the average person does. They are more relaxed, more genial, and more in control of their emotions. They are very aware that expressions of negative emotion deprive them of the energy they need to be effective in the more important things they do. They don’t allow themselves to become upset or angry over little things, or even over large things. They remain objective and detached. They stand back and refuse to take things personally. They do not allow themselves to get drawn into arguments or other people’s problems. They save their energy for more productive purposes.
One of the most important things you can do is to consciously and systematically build up and conserve your energy so that you have it available to use to create the kind of life that you sincerely desire. If you want to do really well financially, which requires mental energy, you get help in doing the things that require higher quantities of physical energy. You delegate physical work. At the same time, you preserve your emotional energy by keeping positive most of the time. And you use your mental energy carefully and skillfully by being well organized and clearly focused on your key tasks. You don’t waste your energy on low priorities.
The whole purpose of physical relaxation is to allow yourself to recharge your emotional and mental batteries. You don’t engage in physical relaxation so much to relax your physical body, because you likely don’t work that hard with your body anymore. The aim of rest and relaxation is more to build up your mental and emotional energies and thereby improve the overall quality of your life.
Here are some techniques for relaxing physically that are used by the most successful and highest paid people in America.
First of all, work only five or six days per week, and rest completely on the seventh day. Every single study in this area shows that you will be far more productive in the five or six days that you work if you take one or two days off completely than you ever would be if you worked straight through.
During this time off, do not catch up on reports, organize your desk, prepare proposals, or do anything else that requires mental effort. Simply let your mind relax completely, and get busy doing things with your family and friends. Maybe work around the house, go for a walk, engage in physical exercise, watch television, go to a movie, or play with your children. Whatever you do, discipline yourself to shut your mental gears off completely for at least one 24-hour period every seven days.
Second, take one four-day vacation every three months, and during that time, refrain from doing any work. Do not attempt to catch up on even a few small things. If you do, you keep your mental gears in motion, and you end up neither resting nor properly doing work of any quality.
Third, take at least two full weeks off each year during which you do nothing that is work-related. You can either work or relax; you cannot do both. If you attempt to do a little work while you are on vacation, you never give your mental and emotional batteries a chance to recharge. You’ll come back from your vacation just as tired as you were when you left.
If you are involved in a difficult relationship, or situation at work that is emotionally draining, discipline yourself to take a complete break from it at least one day per week. Put the concern out of your mind. Refuse to think about it. Don’t continually discuss it, make telephone calls about it or mull it over in your mind. You cannot perform at your best mentally if you are emotionally preoccupied with a person or situation. You have to give yourself a break.
Since a change is as good as a rest, going for a nice long walk is a wonderful way to relax emotionally and mentally. As you put your physical body into motion, your thoughts and feelings seem to relax all by themselves.
Also, remember that the process of digestion consumes an enormous amount of physical energy. Therefore, if you eat lighter foods, you will feel better and more refreshed afterward. If you eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products, your digestive system will require far less energy at the physical level. This energy will then be available to you in the form of emotional and mental energy that you can apply to higher purposes.
Since your diet has such an impact on your level of physical energy, and through it your levels of mental and emotional energy, the more fastidious you are about what you put into your moth, the better you will feel and the more productive you will be. We know now that foods high in fat, sugar, or salt are not good for your body. The lighter the foods you eat, the more energy you have.
You can get the very most out of your time off by getting lots of sleep, take a nap whenever you feel like it, engaging in light physical exercise, such as walking or cycling, eating healthy foods, and limiting your alcohol consumption. Let yourself go, completely, just as if you had parked yourself in a garage and hooked yourself to a battery charger. Let your mind, your emotions and your body rebuild themselves so that you will be ready to perform at your best when you go back to work.
The key to achieving the success you desire is to be positive, alert, and clearly focused on your work and your objectives. Being at your best mentally requires being at your best emotionally as well. High levels of positive emotional energy depend on your remaining calm, positive and optimistic about yourself, the people around you, and your work. Refuse to express negative emotions, either to yourself or others. Resolve to be cheerful, and refuse to be knocked off course. Play your own game, and remember: Less can be more.