Not All Energies Are the Same
Yehoram, a reader and a friend, commented on last week’s blog, “Why being creative can be dangerous.” In his criticism, he equated calories to energy.
His comment sent me back to the blog and led me to re-define what I say and gave birth to a new insight: I agree, calories have much to do with energy, but in that blog I was referring to human not caloric energy. Aha, apparently there are different sources of energy, calories being only one of them. And perhaps the different sources of energy can be classified and understood through the concept of PAEI.
Calories, for example, are related to physical energy. That is the energy we need to operate our body. That is the (P) energy, so to say. Exercise also gives and uses (P) energy. Whether the exercise leaves you with more net energy or less net energy depends on your physical condition and the degree of exhaustion from the exercise.
But there are other forms of energy, as well. When I create, and in my case it is when I write, I get a surge of energy. Thus, when I am extremely tired from travel or work with clients, and go to my room and start writing or editing, I find myself recharged, overflowing with energy. (I even become inspired. The word inspired comes from IN SPIRIT. As I connect to something greater than myself, I am energized.)
Inspiration does not have to come from creativity only. I noticed that people who have a mission in life, a purpose, have high energy. And it does not come from calories.
On the other hand, people who lack purpose, are without goals, have what psychologists call “an identity crisis” and are low on energy .
But now there is a catch: I said in last week’s blog that creativity uses energy. Now I say creativity gives energy. How to settle the apparent inconsistency?
Look at food. The (P) energy. It gives but it also consumes energy. The body has to process the food eaten and that consumes energy.
In my thinking, a similar process applies to creative, inspirational energy. Inspiration becomes a source of energy while the process of creating uses energy. How you feel at the end varies.
In physical energy if you eat lots of meat , presumably you are filled with energy. But you will consume much of it in order to process the meat. The result is that your net energy is low. All animals, and humans too, go to sleep after a heavy meal, particularly if it consists of meat.
Vegetables offer you the most in net energy. They provide little energy itself, but they consume even less. And so the net result is a positive contribution of energy.
Now let us look at inspirational energy.
I believe it is related to style. Our individual style. If someone’s style is not creative, low on (E), his or her NET inspirational energy will be very small, if not negative.
Because their (E) is small, they get little energy from being creative but use lots of energy to create. The net result is small if not negative energy. It is not strange, therefore, that non-creative people find themselves easily exhausted rather than invigorated when compelled to engage in the creative process .
On the other hand, if a man or woman’s style can be characterized as entrepreneurial, or (E) in a large way, the net result of inspirational energy will most likely be positive. I, for one, usually feel very energized at the end of my creative work. Cannot even sleep. Have difficulty “coming down.” Now ask me to do some bookkeeping and within minutes I will be exhausted.
What form of energy does bookkeeping by itself yield or consume?
That will be (A) energy. That is energy that comes from setting or being in control. Those with a personality that prefers in control (some are control “freaks” ) are energized when exercising control.
Now what about (I) energy?
I think there are two different (I)s: external and internal.
The external (I) is the energy that stems from affiliation and relationships.
Community singing, for instance, fills me with energy. It is not energy from calories or inspiration or being in control. It is from the feeling of unison that is at the heart of community singing. Or circle dancing. Or a wedding. Or a great socializing dinner.
There must be emotional energy too. That I think is internal (I). When we fall apart inside we become depressed. We are emotionally depleted. We feel no energy. And when we feel “together “ inside we feel energized.
A typical mistake I think we all do is to try to replenish the low energy in (E) or (A) or (I) with (P). We try to replenish lack of mission in life, falling emotionally apart or being exhausted from a creative process WITH FOOD. As if one form of energy, the physical, can replenish the other.
The result? We overeat and get fat.
Interesting however, that the reverse can work: one can replenish missing physical energy , not enough calories from food, with inspirational energy.
An example is Victor Frankl’s account in his famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” where he describes how people with a purpose in life survived German extermination camps and starvation better than those who lacked one.
There are different sources of energy. Jointly at a point in time they are fixed. Over time they vary in magnitude depending on amount of calorie intake, how well we exercise, how much control we need, our capability to be creative, on having a purpose in life and on degree of internal and external integration.
You can replenish one source of energy with another but not in all cases.
If you feel emotionally down, exercise. It will give you the energy you are missing. Or go and redefine what your life is about and find something you are passionate about. And if you are the creative type, go and do something you love and create something. You will get the missing emotional energy back. But only for a while. For permanent solution, you have to get your life together…probably you need therapy.
But do not replenish missing inspirational energy, or even something as commonplace as being lonely (lack of affiliation) with physical energy from calories, i.e. food. It does not work.
I wonder if there is any research on the subject. Also what do you think?
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes