Addiction to high-energy: It’s OK to say “NO”

Our world is full of cycles. Death and rebirth, seasons, tides. Even our concept of time is cyclical, based on the orbit of the earth around the sun. These cycles are comprised of energy peaks and lows, the most obvious example being the explosion of  life in the spring compared to the hibernation of winter. Another is our nightly rest that is needed to counter the activity of the day. This balance of ying and yang is necessary to achieve harmony and stability. It is this balance that keeps the cycle going sustainably.

If we start looking at our lives through this lens of energy build-up and release, we may be surprised at how many examples of it we find. Isn’t it interesting that orgasms follow this model. As does a good song, or a good movie. Tack on the enjoyment of a sugary treat. We may as well just broaden this line of thinking to include both hormone and endocrine cycles! Clearly, the list goes on and on.

Our natural inclination to follow this energy ebb and flow cycle is challenged by modern elements that know no energy bounds. Instead of following a balanced energy cycle that includes pre-determined periods of  rest, so much of what we encounter in modern society persistently stimulates us. Some things, such as wireless signals or subliminal advertising, we may not be aware of. Others, such as the relentless work load in the office, billboards, phone notification beeps and messages, blatantly demand our attention.

This constant bombardment of energy has become the status quo and the standard to which we are expected to adhere. So much so, in fact, that disengaging from it makes us feel guilty and unproductive. (“Oh no, I haven’t responded to this email yet” or “I can’t believe I haven’t done anything this weekend.”)  Meanwhile, we wonder why we are exhausted and unhealthy, and we reach for our cookies [or enter in your vice of choice] to help us keep pace by distracting us from the imbalance. It’s no wonder that “rat race” became a phrase to describe our modern life.

While this may all sound dire, the fact is, we have a choice as to how we react to this seemingly intrusive energy. Ultimately, it is our choice how we interact with our world, and which pieces we engage with. Yes, we may be have developed habits from childhood that dictate our lines of thinking and actions. And yes, it is so easy to get caught up in the multitude of distractions that we are presented with each moment, especially if our energy is already at a low. However, we have the ability to analyze ourselves to determine what habits may be preventing us from reacting in healthy ways. We have the power to determine for ourselves what level (and types) of engagement really do serve us.

It is up to us to choose whether to have an iPhone, go to that party that we are not feeling up for, or have our work email streamed to our personal phones. Our choice may not be the popular one. And people may sound surprised if they learn you don’t own a TV. But we need to be willing to forgo the status quo in order to achieve the healthy energy balance we need. If we don’t make the balance a priority, no one else will.