Are You Fully Charged shows you the three keys to arriving at work and life with a battery that’s brimming with happiness and motivation, which are energy, interactions and meaning, and how to implement them in your day.
Don’t you hate when authors tell you one thing in their first book and then try to sell you on the complete opposite idea in the next one? It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I always feel gamed, sort of like they’re just in it for the money.
Tom Rath doesn’t do that. Instead, his books build on one another. Are You Fully Charged is his most recent one, and it incorporates what he learned and taught in Eat, Move, Sleep into a practice that goes beyond health and into happiness.
It is based on three things: meaning, interactions and energy.
I want to share 3 lessons about these chargers with you today:
- The pursuit of happiness is our biggest roadblock on the way towards it.
- Put your phone out of sight when talking to someone.
- Try to take 10,000 steps a day.
Lead acid or Lithium ion, it doesn’t matter, by the end of this article, you’ll know how to wake up fully charged!
Lesson 1: The pursuit of happiness is our biggest roadblock on the way towards it.
There are many books, movies, and entire cultures built around the pursuit of happiness. It’s what fuels the American Dream (and life in most other Western countries), and while there’s a lot of debate around what it should look like, hardly anyone questions the premise itself:
Is happiness even something that must be pursued?
Well, Tom Rath isn’t “hardly anyone”, so he raises just that question. He believes thinking that, as long as we spend enough time chasing it, we’ll eventually find happiness is one of the biggest misconceptions of the 21st century.
You might have already learned that external motivation ruins internal motivation. But if Tom Rath is right, this means it actively makes you unhappier, instead of just not increasing your happiness.
He says happiness is simply a by-product of a meaningful life, which is centered around internal motivation.
I’m in a café right now. Let’s say the waitress can comfortably serve 50 people a day, then she can make all these interactions light and positive and find meaning in those. If her boss told her she’d get twice the money for serving 75 customers, she’d be forced to give less time to each one, and focus on efficiency, rather than politeness.
She might get the extra money, but that not only won’t make her happier, she’d also sap the meaning from her interactions and thus end up a lot unhappier than she was before.
Lesson 2: Hide your phone somewhere out of sight when talking to someone.
Have you ever seen two people in a restaurant, sitting opposite each other, each staring at their own smartphone? It’s a nightmare. The only thing that’s worse is when just one person stares at their phone, and leaves the other one hanging.
I’ve always tried to avoid using my phone in conversation, but this I didn’t know about, and it takes it one step further:
A 2014 study found that conversations, where no phone is visually present, are significantly superior to those, where a phone is on the table, in someone’s hand, or otherwise in sight.
This is called the iPhone effect, and it implies that even if people just see a phone while talking to you, they already feel like you’re not giving them your full attention and can’t be as empathic towards you.
My phone is dead silent, and I usually put it face down on the table when I’m out with friends, but from now on, I’ll try to completely put it out of sight – and you should do the same to see your relationships thrive.
Lesson 3: Make an effort to take 10,000 steps every day, starting today.
Here’s a crazy fact: You sit more than you sleep. On average, people sit for 9.3 hours a day, while sleeping only for 7.7. According to Tom Rath, this is what happens when you sit for extended periods of time:
The nerves in your legs stop working and shut down.
Your calorie burning rate drops to one calorie per minute.
The number of enzymes, which break down fat in your body, drops by 90%.
Your good cholesterol (HDL, High-Density Lipoprotein) drops by 10% every hour.
Here’s how to avoid all of this: take 10,000 steps every day.
It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. 10,000 steps equals roughly 5 miles (or 8 km) a day. According to Tom, walking increases your energy levels by 150%, and since I started paying more attention to it, I feel he’s right. Do this to make sure you hit your 10,000 step goal each day:
Design your environment to make you move. For example, when using your laptop in your office, leave your charger in another room, so you have to go and get it when you run out of power.
Take detours. When I walk to the café I work in in the morning, I always go right, instead of left, when I leave my house, to make sure I do a full circle of the city center before going there. Extending walks you’re already taking is a lot easier than making up reasons to take more of them.
Track your steps. Just seeing the number on a regular basis will make you work harder towards your goal. I guarantee it. This thing will probably save my life.
My personal take-aways
I love that Tom doesn’t compartmentalize life into certain buckets, because fixing just one thing about yourself is never the solution. The only thing I can critique about his work is promoting a fairly specific diet, instead of telling you to find out what works for you. Other than that, everything he does is very focused on giving you principles, which you can then decide how to turn into action for yourself. He shows you the research and what it means, you do something to make your life better.
I believe that’s the only way self improvement can work, consider me a fan!