My son, Weston, has a simple nutrition strategy. After he eats something, he observes whether the food has left him feeling energized or depleted—both short and long term—and uses that as the basis of his diet. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t consider taste, sustainability, or convenience, but it’s an effective gauge that helps him find balance in his food choices.
I’ve recently taken that idea to other key areas of my life. Here are a few:
- Social - Am I connecting with people that energize or deplete me? What is my effect on them?
- Movement - How do my body and mind feel right after I’ve worked out (or not)? How about the next day? What is the cumulative effect of my movement choices?
- Work - How does my work energize me? Is it meaningful to myself and others? Am I continuing to learn and grow?
- Mindset - Are my current thought patterns energizing or depleting me? How are my thoughts influencing what I say and do?
#4 is, of course, the key to all of the others. Thoughts pretty much steer everything. But is it possible to choose your thoughts like you’d choose to eat an apple over a candy bar? I believe it is and have begun to use another straightforward strategy inspired by my student, Linda Menzer: when my thoughts feel depleting, I reach for the better thought. It can be as simple as acknowledging something you’re grateful for, recalling a happy memory, or temporarily tabling a situation you don’t have control over. From there, you move forward.
I’m going to be honest here. I’m not great at this. Shifting thoughts is hard - it takes awareness, acknowledgement and consistent practice. But inch by inch, I’m beginning to feel that shift in energy that ultimately defines what I do and who I am.
“Watch your thoughts; they become your words.
Watch your words; they become your actions.
Watch your actions; they become your habits.
Watch your habits; they become your character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ~ Upanishads