(Yes, the title soft pedals a gnarly approach to a big subject.)
Your environments are major contributors to your energy, your happiness, and your ability to focus, and the people in them are probably the most important variables. Let’s take a particularly stark look at your relationships. What follows is a simple (maybe simplistic) exercise with big ramifications. It may stir you up so take heed, the lesson is a good one. Plus, at the end of this shortish article is something you can do this very week.
First, the love premise:
Love is the energy we give to help other people. We love them. They love us.
With this in mind take five minutes to jot down a list of the people to whom you give your energy, attention, and time; and those that give you theirs. Make three columns on your sheet and get hardcore about which column each person mostly fits into. Listen to your gut. Set guilt aside along with your petty complaints, and pick one of the three columns for each relationship.
Relationships that use your energy and give you meaning— people you help.
Relationships that give you energy— people who help you.
Relationships that take away your energy or meaning— or don’t give anything.
Life’s 3 Big Love Goals
This week’s goal idea comes from answering ONE of the following questions. They each take you a step toward one of Life’s 3 Big Love Goals.
Big Love Goal #1: Use your energy to build meaning by helping others.
What is one small way this week to interrupt the stressful moments during your service to someone else and re-energize so you can be your best?
Big Love Goal #2: Nurture your helpful relationships.
What is one thing can you do this week to appreciate and encourage one of your helpers? (Idea: Let them know how competent they’ve been. That’s highly motivating.)
Big Love Goal #3: Change the hurtful ones.
What is one thing you can do this week to move one relationship from Hurtful toward Fulfilling or Helpful— or to dump that relationship completely?
Now stick one of those in your Week’s Plan, go forth and love well, Lovers!
NOTE: I refined this idea after reading my new friend Stewart Snyder’s book Quitting is for Winners. If you are thinking about severing the big relationship between you and your employer, start with this workbook.
† Daniel Gilbert explains the phenomenon of faulty happiness memory very well in his hilarious interview with Stephen Colbert