This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with their women’s conference, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power,” which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here . Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.
The pursuit of success, which we imagine will result in abundance in all things, often leads to the opposite – depletion of our most vital resource, our energy, and our life force. As a physician, I have the privilege of being witness to the stories behind the veil of success. And the most elusive aspect of success is well-being, which encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wealth. Money and power results too often from a sacrifice of the self, from the abandonment of simple principles of self-care.
The care and feeding of our human bodies and souls is not part of our education or values or even our daily planning. Yet, these basic skills are at the root of happiness, at the root of true success. My practice focuses on the poorest among us, not in money or power, because my practice includes some of the most powerful and wealthiest men and women in the world, but poor in health, poor in connection, poor in vitality, poor in energy.
Energy is the ultimate currency. Energy to be present to your life, to engage fully with each human being you touch, with your senses, your body, your work, family, to have energy to connect to what is important, creates joy and fulfillment. Why is it that the second best selling class of drugs are those to alter our mood or energy? Why are drugs for reflux or heartburn the third most commonly prescribed class of medication? Could it be because our life is literally coming back up and getting stuck in our throats? We are choking on our over-consumption of stuff, unable to digest our lives.
One of my patients, a highly successful government leader, rich in power and money, was poor in health, 60 pounds overweight, fatigued, falling asleep in meetings, barely able to walk with knee pain, relationships strained, mood depressed. Surviving on Diet Coke, coffee and sugar and bread, he had an energy crisis. His intelligence and success focused outward, not inward. The simple notion of self-care was absent from his lexicon. He could turn a nation around but not his own health.
With a few simple tools, a simple plan for self-care, designing a few simple patterns into his life, he was able to lose 45 pounds, he no longer needed afternoon naps, his mood lifted and his personality brightened and his knee pain went away, allowing him to get back to the tennis he loved.
The path to energy, to well-being is not far for most of us – it is few bites of food, a few steps, a few moments of rest away. It is disarmingly simple, yet even the best and the brightest among us often fail to make the connection between how we treat our bodies and how we feel. We simply never learned the art of the care and feeding of our body and soul. A few simple acts planned and designed into your daily life change everything.
The Third Metric of success beyond money and power is ultimately about energy, about vitality, about the capacity to engage fully with life, to be present to yourself and those you love, to be able to connect to our collective humanity through service and community.
This past week, I attended the annual conference of the Institute for Functional Medicine on Illuminating the Energy Spectrum, focusing on perhaps the most important energy crisis – the loss of human capital through the depletion of our physical and spiritual energy.
The science of achieving the Third Metric is not an abstract idea but a method that can be learned by anyone willing to learn a few simple skills — skills that help you design your life for true success. Initially, it involves a reboot of body and soul, but once you learn and practice this method, it becomes increasingly habitual.
I am convinced that, if we spent one-tenth the energy planning for success in the Third Metric as we do striving for money and power, we could solve our energy crisis. In fact, I am a little embarrassed that I make a living teaching people how to create energy and manage their energy using extreme common sense. But as Mark Twain once said, “The problem with common sense is that is it not too common.”
The primary virtue of self-care is not just that it enriches your own pleasure and satisfaction (although that is a nice side effect), it is that it empowers you to show up, be present, and engage fully in your life – with those you love, your community, your work.
It endows you with the greatest power of all — the power to manifest your humanity without restriction or limitation. It gives you the power to access the most reliable and direct doorway to happiness , which is compassion and love.
If our energy is diminished, so is our capacity to love. Why do we admire figures such as the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa? Because they are the embodiment of compassion, love, and service. These traits are the highest expressions of our humanity — and not coincidentally, also the states of consciousness most strongly associated with happiness and fulfillment.
The Ingredients for Success in the Third Metric
The cultivation of energy and vitality, and subsequent nurturing of true abundance, starts with design. It starts with creating an artful, well-designed life, one that respects the sacred trust we have been given, one that honors this body and soul that we have been given for our journey.
The design process need not be complicated or time-consuming, but it does need to be intentional, because without planning, failure is guaranteed.
When we set out on a long car ride, most of us take time to ensure there is gas in the tank and air in the tires. Why would we give ourselves any less attention?
It turns out that the formula for creating and sustaining a healthy human (and sustainable human energy) is quite simple. It just requires removing (or minimizing) the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff.
Yes, this requires some attention, some planning and organization. It requires building habits into your daily life that make these changes automatic, but once you do, you’ll find that you are thriving rather than just surviving. And the most important metrics of your life – happiness, energy, vitality, connection, love will all multiply.
Step One: Take out the bad stuff.
Step Two: Add the good stuff.
These are things we all know but often neglect. By releasing the things that don’t work in our lives — the impediments to thriving — and slowly including those things that create abundance and well-being, you will — day by day, gradually, perhaps without even noticing at first — find yourself achieving a whole new level of true and lasting success.
Now let me know what you have found takes away you energy and what gives you energy?
What is one thing you can let go of that drains your energy and what is one thing you can add to your life that gives you energy?
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below — but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!
To your good health,