4 Steps to Understand Your Energy Flow in the World
Have you ever noticed that humans are like actors in a system? Probably. We have this egotistical way of staying inherently in ourselves, with some of us thinking a lot about others but perhaps not really affecting much. Even the staunchest Socialist among us is probably concerned with having a tasty snack and warm clothes on their back, rather than getting up and putting something into the world at that moment that will make a difference to somebody.
Imagine yourself as a piece in a simple linear process: things go into your body, like knowledge, food, music, interactions that give you emotional responses. Once things are in there, they morph. Even the knowledge we acquire changes once it's in us. Witnesses to crimes share their perspective on the crime, which can be unequivocally wrong based on the person’s reinforcements and understanding of the event. Consider how these changing inputs can be returned to the world outside our bodies. Yes, humans consume a large amount of energy and thus there is loss simply from being. However, have you ever thought about what you’re putting back into the world?
Consider a basic Energy flow as in the diagram below. We put energy in, some of it comes back out into the world in a usable form, but there is a chunk of that energy lost to the surroundings — usually in an undesirable form, such as thermal heat for a lighting process.
Curiously, any energy process diagrams found through my research tend to depict a far smaller loss than output — an obvious demonstration of efficiency required in a simple cost-benefit analysis for the process. At this point, let me pull your attention back to the concept of you as the process in this energy flow from the world into self, back into the world.
When your body takes in all this energy, unlike the linear process shown above, there are so many variables and external operators in play that make it impossible to account for the energy lost. Hence the reason for this article: acknowledge the energy flow through yourself.
We take in all this wonderful knowledge on a constant basis through social media, distance learning and television. We take in amazing food from a plethora of cultures, conveniences and distribution channels. We listen to people from around the world creating music, spoken podcasts and guided meditations. There is so much to consume.
We have likely all heard of information overload and — in fact — we have likely all experienced information overload, we are just getting better at managing the information and pushing the boundaries of what overload actually is. But with all this management of a constantly increasing information mountain and the adaptations to consume more and source new stuff, we have become addicted to inputs. Again, let me pull your attention back to the obvious. Where does all that energy, the music, those conversations and that food go?!
The output of humans as processors is literally anything you put back into the world. Spoken-word, writing, cooking, participation or volunteerism — anything of value in the world. Is there value in your output, to yourself or to others? Does it reenergize you and give you back something to go again? Or is there a lot of waste and not much output? There is no wrong answer to these questions, but there is a necessary shift in our thinking to consider what’s going in and what are we returning to the world.
At the end of your day, think of what you experienced or consumed and ask yourself deeply and honestly, what did I put back into the world today? It may surprise you.
Follow the 4 simple steps below, integrating them into your day-end practice to understand how to maximize your impact on the world without burning out.
Step 1: Reimagine the day
What did you consume? New spaces, people, interactions, knowledge, etc.
Step 2: Assess what these consumptions provided you
What did that new video game give to you? Happiness, connection, sense of accomplishment, energy to move forward, etc.
Step 3: Notice your outputs
How did visiting a new place allow you to give back to the world? Photography, conversations, sharing knowledge, supporting local, etc.
Step 4: Make intentional changes
Understand if the first 3 steps are true to you and how you’d like to show up in the world. Are there small, positive changes you can make? Are there positive aspects you can reinforce?