Energy – What Is It?

Humanity needs energy to operate and so do we as individuals. Energy is literally and figuratively the fuels that powers us. So, what is it? How do we get more of it? In the chapter about Time I mentioned that life is one big exercise in time management. In this chapter, I’m saying that life is also one big exercise in energy management. 

Humanity needs to solve its energy problem in order to avoid depleting the environment that sustains it, and each of us needs to optimize our own physical and mental energy in order to live an MPI life. Your impact and your happiness are directly related to your state of mind when working on or enjoying anything that is important to you.

What is energy?

Broadly, living things require energy to stay alive. Humans get it from food. The global economy gets it from fossil fuels and other resources. The Earth’s climate and ecosystems get it from radiant energy from the sun.

We need to distinguish between the use of the word energy in a scientific sense and its more broad uses in the English language. In science and, more specifically, physics, energy can take many forms. However, energy is always conserved. This means that energy cannot be created or destroyed. This can sometimes cause confusion, particularly in discussions regarding the global energy crisis. For example, people will use expressions such as, we decided to buy this particular car in order to conserve energy. You can see how, in the scientific sense, this statement doesn’t make any sense because all energy is conserved. However, we understand what people are trying to say when they make a statement like this and, therefore, we are in a situation where certain words used in science have different meanings from the same words used more broadly.

The flow of energy refers to the transfer of energy from one location or thing to another. Stored energy is often referred to as potential energy, meaning that, under the right circumstances some or all of this energy can be released or transferred and, in doing so, cause something to happen outside of itself that results in a reaction of some kind. 

As humans, we consume energy through the food that we eat, and some of it is used by our bodies to keep us alive but there is an excess that remains in our bodies as potential energy that is ready for use when required. we have to find a way on daily basis to optimize the use of that energy. That means making sure we have enough in the first place then creating the conditions that will allow us to let it loose on the things that are most important to us. 

Let’s describe energy as the “effort” that you have to put into something to get something done. In simple terms you need energy to get things done, however, your energy is influenced by your sleep, diet, relationships with friends or biz partners or boss, motivation to do something, physical environment, distractions (lack of focus distributes energy), commitment to the goal, noise, smells, self-confidence, how interesting the project is, how significant it is, what’s in it for you, how difficult the project is (or isn’t), how much pressure you are under, whether you have the ability to do it, whether you get to take breaks along the way, whether you move or stay stationary, whether you use stimulants, whether the people around you are emotional or discouraging or encouraging, whether you feel important or acknowledged or whether you are well lead (or lead well). All of these factors impact your energy (or to be more correct, how you use your energy). If you don’t actively manage your energy your ability to get things done on any given day will be just a matter of chance and the likelihood of doing anything big will almost zero. Consider how each of these affect your ability to put effort into getting something done.

Next article in this series: “Human Energy”

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