I am so big on rules and strategies. I consider myself a student of life. I pay close attention to the cause and effect of the universe. From these observations, I have formulated my own translation of the Law of Conservation of Energy. This "law" is a foundation upon which many of my other rules are based. Before I dive into the philosophical drives and gears lets take a moment to deal with physics.
Per Wikipedia (because I am lazy and don't want to write out my own definitions):
"In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant, it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another."
This is the idea that the dinosaurs perished and over time became crude oil. Oil is then chemically refined into gasoline. The gasoline is pumped into the tank of my Yamaha. This produces acceleration. Acceleration plus a nice curvy country road produces a rare smile on my face. This releases stress and produces the rare state of being- Happiness.
I fell away from the sciences on that one. This is my space. I will do what I want with it. Also, they are my words. I will use them as I see fit. *Ahem* I converted the science into a law for living a more satisfying life. The basic principle of Cantrell's Law of Conservation of Energy is that your time and energy are finite. Always make the most effective use of them.
It is no coincidence that I am writing this post on Thanksgiving 2018. Many people are sitting down to an expensive and elaborate meal today. That meal is the result of hours of preparation by a few members of the family. My experience has always been that the larger crowd that takes part in the festivities does very little to bring about the actual meal.
My Mom would cook all night and then all morning. When we came to the table we fed our faces and enjoyed the results. Afterward, Mom would need a good afternoon nap. She exhausted herself and spent out all her energy and effort to bring about an event. I mentioned in a past post that we are not doing holidays this year. This is a result of the realization that no matter how much effort we put into the holidays' something is going to be missing.
Our holidays of years past were also filled with TONS of cleaning, shopping, and STRESS. While the house is cleaner than it has ever been, I did not want to deal with any of the rest of that mess. I wanted today to be about gathering my energy not expending it in an inefficient way. Spending 24 hours and $300 to produce one meal borders on the insane. I don't care how many leftovers there are. The payout is not equal to the effort.
Today has been nice. I have slept a bit. Dad and I moved our big grill out of the camp area and into the front yard. We are grilling up burgers and hot dogs. It is the best, most relaxing feeling. My belly will be just as full as if the other effort had been put out. This is a hell of a lot cheaper. It is a very effective use of our Thanksgiving effort. I think it may become the new tradition.
This approach to life has been with me a very long time. I just never formalized it. Once upon a time, I was very into martial arts. I learned that you didn't have to be stronger than your opponent to win. In fact, sometimes brute strength and size work against a fighter. The smarter fighter moves out of the way of fierce punches and kicks. You exhaust your enemy. You vex them. Then, as they are breathing heavy, you use a quick, efficient attack to down them. Using this method you can fight several people at once never fully engaging with any one person until it is safe to down them.
This law requires patience. It requires thought, restraint, and an understanding of where you can apply the least amount of pressure for the biggest effect. You cannot react. You cannot base your actions on immediately gratifying your emotions. This also has the added benefit of making you incomprehensible to most people. You will appear mysterious, reserved, and powerful.
The most important place to apply this law is in the investment of your time in people. Spending energy and time on a person fruitlessly is discouraging and the worst sort of waste. To that end I categorize my people into 3 groups.
The first group of people in my life are Family. I do not use that term in the literal sense because often relatives fall more neatly into the other two categories. Family are people that bring amazing value into your life. You often leave the presence of these people feeling refreshed and recharged. They are there for you through thick and thin. When things do get complicated with Family, it is always something you can resolve. In my life, this group is very, very small.
Cast and Crew are the second category. Hopefully, most of the people in your life are in this category. These are your coworkers, the people you run into socially but don't truly connect with, and people who don't hold a place of significance. This group is very important. If you treat them shabbily they will fall from this group. The Cast and Crew should not know your secrets. They should not see your real emotions. They are the functionaries of our life. Appreciate them at a distance. Some of my very favorite people are Cast and Crew. Being a part of the Cast and Crew is important as you begin a relationship (friendship, romantic, or professional) because it gives the necessary distance to see a person's actions in clear light. Promotions to Family should be exceedingly rare.
The final group are the Toxic. All too often they fall from the Family category because you let someone in that you should not have. Toxic doesn't imply fault either. That is important to remember. They may be Toxic to you because you royally screwed them over. Once someone goes Toxic there is no fixing it. Don't waste time on it. The effort required to fix Toxicity will always far away exceed the benefits gained by fixing it.
Most of this comes back to my Spartan thought patterns. I ask a series of questions such as:
Is this person a positive influence on my life? If not, why am I wasting time, thought, or energy on them?
Is this person a necessity to a function of my life? If not, why have I not removed myself from their path?
Is this person relevant to my present circumstances? Am I living in the past?
Do I have the power to rid myself of this person and their influence? The answer to this should always be yes even if it takes patience and effort to bring about.
Does this person violate the morals, laws, and rules by which I live my life?
This blog itself has been an exercise in conserving energy. While (hopefully) you will read this in one serving, I actually wrote this post in pieces over the course of 2 days. I continued to struggle with how to sum everything up and tie the scope of the post into a succinct, memorable summation.
I guess the central point of the post is to not waste your time, energy, or emotion in pointless, fruitless, masturbatory pursuits or people. I do not want this confused with the idea of not doing things you just don't want to do. There is a massive difference.
I used to hate going to work. I wanted to spend all my time pursuing my passions. I made stupid arguments against the necessity of working at all. I approached work as a means to an end...an ugly thing that had to be hurried through to get to the sweet parts of life.
That attitude made me a lousy employee. I presented half assed work on my best days. I often called in. Work was super stressful. I considered the whole affair a waste of time and my involvement with it toxic.
This wrong, negative mind set made me put a lot of effort into avoiding something vital to my life. I wasted tons of energy, thought, and emotion on avoiding something that it was easier to embrace as necessary. I was causing myself great pain trying to avoid a little mild discomfort.
I eventually realized there is no freedom from the grind. I'm not going to win the lottery. I'm not going to publish a single novel and gain financial freedom from the day job. I had to work. The effort of fighting it was harmful. Complaining about it was just producing negativity.
I focused my effort on embracing work and being present and focused on it. I left my passions at home and even tried not to think about my writing or art while I worked. The difference was immediate and profound.
I relaxed. Work became fun. I saw ways to change careers and earn more for less effort. I got to be a great employee. The jobs became rewarding. I started looking forward to work. Necessary didn't mean unpleasant. These days work is my sanctuary from the storms in the rest of my life. I love it!
The same shift of perspective is possible for the necessary people in your life. A few of you classified your boss as Toxic. While he may or may not be actually Toxic he is necessary. Don't spend any of your time, energy, or effort trying to avoid him. With rare exception changing your attitude will change the dynamic.
That is the whole spirit of my law of conservation of energy. Embrace the necessary. Rise above the trivial. Be truly effective in your choices.
Just don't think too hard on how many words I used to belabor this simple point. I enjoy the sound of my own voice. Conserving writing energy is such a struggle.