7 Secrets of High-Energy People

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Simple Strategies

1. Do something genuinely new.

Very little that's new occurs in our lives. The impact of this sameness on our emotional energy is gradual, but huge: It's like a tire with a slow leak. You don't notice it at first, but eventually you'll get a flat. It's up to you to plug the leak -- even though there are always a dozen reasons to stay stuck in your rut. That's where Maura, 36, a waitress and would-be caterer, found herself a year ago.

Fortunately, Maura had a lifeline -- a group of women friends who meet regularly to discuss their lives "like on Sex and the City," she says, "but without the sex, the city and the gorgeous clothes!" The women's lively discussions about how to shake up their lives spurred Maura to make small but nevertheless life-altering changes. She joined a gym in the next town. She took up yoga. She changed her look with a short haircut and new black T-shirts. Eventually, Maura gathered the courage to quit her job and devote herself full time to her fledgling catering business.

Here's a challenge: If it's something you wouldn't ordinarily do, do it. Try a cuisine you've never eaten. Drive home via a different, scenic route. Listen to music you'd ordinarily tune out. You'll discover that small gestures pack a powerful emotional energy punch.

2. Reclaim life's meaning.

So many of the patients in my psychotherapy practice tell me that their lives used to have meaning, but that somewhere along the line things went stale. The foundation is there, but the urgency is missing.

The first step in solving this meaning shortage is to figure out what you really care about, then do something about it. That's what meaning is: a heartfelt concern that is woven into your everyday life. A case in point is Ivy, 57, a pioneer in investment banking. "I mistakenly believed that all the money I made would mean something," she says. "But I feel rudderless, like a 22-year-old wondering what to do with her life." Ivy's solution? She started a program that shows Wall Streeters how to donate time and money to underprivileged children. In the process, Ivy infused meaning into her own life.

3. Put yourself in the fun zone.

Most of us grown-ups are seriously fun-deprived, and it shows in our flagging energy levels. High-energy people have the same day-to-day grinds as the rest of us, but they manage to find something enjoyable in every situation. A real-estate broker I know, whose work load is enormous, keeps herself amused -- and energized -- on the job by mentally redecorating the houses she shows to clients. "I love imagining what even the most dilapidated fixer-upper could look like with a little TLC," she says. "It's a challenge -- and the least desirable properties are usually the most fun."

We all define fun differently, of course, but I can vouch for this: If you lighten up and inject just a bit of it into your day, your energy will zoom.

4. Bid farewell to guilt and regret.

Everyone's past is filled with regrets, mistakes, and missed opportunities that still cause pain. These feelings are an index of our humanity, evidence that we have a heart and a conscience. But from an emotional energy point of view, they are deadweights that keep us from moving forward. While they can't merely be willed away, I do recommend you give yourself a good talking-to. Remind yourself that everyone has negative experiences. But whatever happened is in the past, and nothing can change that. Holding on to the memory only allows the damage to continue into the present.

Continued on page 3:  More Strategies


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