In every culture, people have a clearing process. Whether it’s spring cleaning, which according to handy-dandy Wikipedia began with Iranians, who call it khooneh tekouni, or sage cleansing, which is known as a Native American ritual, the human race seems to have recognized the importance of de-cluttering as a road toward clarity.
And I am no different. Over the past three years, I’ve consciously taken time to decide who I want to be and how I want to function in this world. Two days before my birthday, I’m sharing them with you.
The first thing I did was to pay more attention to where I put my energy as a way to create more pleasurable spaces in my life.
We’re all energy. I don’t think that’s a new idea. However, I also believe that our thoughts and actions are comprised of energy. And for the last few years, I’ve become much more mindful about how and what I spend my energy on.
Sometimes I think of energy like money. You know how some people are frugal with their dollars? Well, that’s how I feel about my energy. Would you allow someone to take $1000 out of your bank account? Me neither. But I also don’t allow others to withdraw from my energy account.
There are a few ways I’ve learned to do this. I try not to expend too much energy on conversations I deem frivolous. A great example is when Hurricane Irma was headed towards Jacksonville. A day or so before, I was scheduled to teach in Gainesville.
“I thought you’d be home,” one of my co-workers said.
“Nope. The hurricane isn’t coming til…”
“Well, I hope you have gas. I hope you don’t run out of gas. I hope the gas stations still have gas on your way home. The gas station on 39th is already out …”
I briefly stared at her, and then gathered my personal belongings and inched towards the door. In my mind, I didn’t have the energy to expend on such a negative conversation about the state of gas. And I didn’t need to prove her wrong by saying, I have gas in my tank and I drive a Honda. It’ll be full for a while. It would be wasted energy.
Likewise, I try not to spend a lot of time in places I’d rather not be. A great example is work. I go to work and focus on teaching my students. When that’s done, sometimes I attend meetings and grade papers. I don’t stand around holding lengthy conversations about other people’s business because, in the long run, it doesn’t solve anything. And sometimes, in the end you feel just as crappy as the person you’re discussing.
This is not to say I’m perfect. Occasionally, I catch myself in a rant about some event that pissed me off. But once I realize I’m expending energy, then I make a mental note and change the subject to something that feels better, like my business. The results seem to prove the phrase that which you focus on grows. Writing Endeavors® is going well. This blog is going well. Books are selling. Much of this I attribute to clearing and re-focusing my energy.
Tomorrow, I’ll share the second aspect of my life I’ve cleared up. Until then, tell me…do you pay attention to how and where you spend your energy?