This article was originally published on BrendaKnowles.com. It is republished here with permission from the author.
While looking up synonyms for energy, I discovered what I have desired my whole life: vitality.
People with vitality are magnetic, exuberant, and passionate. They have oomph, moxie, and verve. They are leaders. They are adventurous. They can do anything.
Unless you are a member of my inner circle or tossed back a few with me in my 20s, then you most likely would not picture me when pondering the words vivacious, exuberant, or bubbly. I tend to hang back and listen in a group. I am not quick on my feet with witty rapport. I digest information and report back later. I don’t bop up and down with bursting enthusiasm (much). I love adventure but am dedicated to responsibilities. I’ll feel every note of a song but would feel absolutely naked and nervous on stage as a musician. I have many friends but often feel sheepish about my inability to keep up with effusive emails and frequent texts.
In short, I am an introvert. I genuinely like myself, but I still wish I could be more lively, vibrant, and full of energy. How could I do that?
I’ve been researching this question for years (consciously and subconsciously), and I have found six ways to create energy, enthusiasm, and effusiveness:
I see all of you rolling your eyes. No lectures, just personal experience here.
Hours on the treadmill are not going to make you sparkle, but challenging yourself and surviving are. I was fortunate enough to have my ass kicked by a personal trainer for over a year. He pushed me. I fatigued, wanted to throw up, and darn near peed my pants during some of our sessions. But I got stronger, developed agility, and gained confidence in my body.
My trainer also talked me into running, which I never dreamed I could do. I am more of a Clydesdale than a graceful deer, but I love the zone I enter when running. Ideas and daydreams bubble up as my feet pound the ground. For introverts, I highly recommend personal training. This can be done one-on-one or in small groups for maximum comfort. Or, try running, which can be a solitary or group pursuit—and it truly revs up the creative juices.
I actually look forward to working out because I know the glow I will have afterward. I know my fitness allows me to move quickly and easily with kinetic energy. I feel alive—lively even.
You are what you eat, right? Do you want to be a lifeless pile of mashed potatoes or a lean springy string bean? We all have our feelings and attachments to food. I love Cool-Whip and big wavy noodles (but not together).
Five years ago, I picked up a book called The Good Mood Diet: Feel Great While You Lose Weight. It changed the way I eat. I learned that food affects mood and energy levels. I now consume food in combinations that will prolong my energy and make me pleasant to be around. For example, if I desire to eat a heap of wavy noodles (and who doesn’t?), I know to cut the carbohydrates with protein, so I throw in some chicken or a scrambled egg.
Big tip: eggs and fish are brain food. Consume them and feed all the happy places in your grey matter. Eat a bag of jelly beans and become inert and crabby an hour later—the exact opposite of bubbly and effervescent.
3. See Value in Your Traits
Stop beating yourself up about what you are not or what you can’t handle. Focus on where you shine. Growing up, I often felt like I was less than enough because I wasn’t as confident and popular as my extroverted sister. I wasn’t as magnetic as my father. No one showed me the value of my strong listening and observation skills. No one gave me an award for intuition or a rich inner life. Honestly, I didn’t even really appreciate my intuition and imagination because I thought everyone possessed the same, if not more, depth.
A weight was lifted from my shoulders when I realized one third to one half of the population are introverts like me. We introverts gain energy from within. I have the deepest gratitude for Dr. Marti Olsen Laney and her book, The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World and for Susan Cain and her recent bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. They make it clear that an independent nature is valuable and that a few deeply fostered relationships are worth as much as hundreds of acquaintances. Most of all, I learned I am not alone in the introspective universe. I can connect with other inwardly focused individuals. I can be useful to those who need help filtering or making space in their life to find meaning.
Are your emotions keeping you from moving forward? I can teach you how to live a more empowered, fulfilling life—in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Learn more.
Once you see the value in your temperament, the world is your oyster. That is crazy exciting! Excitement is grand energy.
4. Work You Love
Ever notice how you skip down the office corridor or stay up until the wee hours of the morning when you immerse yourself in a project that lights up your whole being?
I know you are probably sick to death of everyone touting the do what you love! mantra. It’s easier said than done. Time is a factor. Money is another. Maybe you don’t know yourself well enough to know what fuels your soul. All are valid arguments. But I’d like to go on record saying that you cannot afford to not invest in a dream or passion.
Pay attention to what makes your heart leap and time melt as well as what makes your stomach tighten or your shoulders tense. Reflect on what gave you great amusement in the past. What memories make your face soften and your eyes twinkle? Use your (budding) self-awareness to grow. To conquer fears and learn from mistakes.
Lastly, move forward. Change is quick but fighting change is a long slow process. According to Jonathon Fields of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, there is no sideways in life. Sideways eventually leads to being behind.
5. Surround Yourself with Spirited People
This does not mean that all your friends can do backflips or play ten minute guitar solos on stage. This means orbit around folks with inner lights. The ones who get all geeked about their latest discovery. The ones who know themselves and feel comfortable in their own rumpled jeans. These people are better than caffeine. They don’t have to have the same temperament as you either. Mix it up–introverts, extroverts, ambiverts = all good. Hint: look in places where you feel at home.
Truly life-enhancing companions will draw out your gifts as they practice their own.
My bet is that once you find this kind of tribe you will want to chatter away. You’ll have to hold yourself back so you don’t monopolize the floor. You’ll be effusive and bubbly all over the place.
A short note about the power of music. Introverts seem to be extra sensitive to art and music. Although performing musically might rattle me, listening to it is nirvana. It never fails to lift my mood. Marianne Williamson once said that musicians are like priests as they put everyone in the room on the same heartbeat. Scientifically, it has been proven that levels of dopamine increase when people listen to music they enjoy. A real rush. Who hasn’t gone a little bonkers at a concert?
Music can motivate you during a workout. Health clubs have figured out members burn more calories during cardio classes when there is a real drummer playing during the workout. Music is a trigger for more energy. More vitality.
Although I have desired more vitality my whole life, I can truthfully say that I have never felt more energy-filled than I do now. I have employed the above elements. I don’t bounce off the walls (most days) but I do have a consistent source of warm, vibrant energy to draw from. I can lead. I make my own adventures and I feel like I can do anything.
What gives you a burst of liveliness? When was the last time you were effervescent? What would you do with boundless energy? Let me know in the comments below.