Mental Energy

We all have physical energy, emotional energy, and mental energy. We have a gas tank for each of those types of energy. When our gas tank runs dry we are in trouble.

Physical energy is the easiest to understand and evaluate, and it is also the easiest gas tank to fill. When we get physically tired we know why and we know how to replenish our energy, sleep, rest, and eat. That cycle happens to most people every day. Exercise is a key activity to increase the size of our physical energy gas tank. I am riding my stationary bike as I write this. A lot of people don’t take the time for exercise and they will pay the price in increased tiredness, and then in reduced productivity.

Emotional energy is where are passion, enthusiasm, happiness, motivation, and drive comes from. When we run out of emotional energy we feel flat, bored, unmotivated, and even depressed. An NBA basketball team was playing poorly the other day and the commentator remarked that they were playing with no passion, just going through the motions. Understanding what uses up our emotional energy and how to fill up our emotional gas tank is super important if we want to stay enthused about life, highly motivated, and positive in our vision for the future.

Mental energy is the most difficult to understand in ourselves, to monitor, and to replenish. When our mental energy tank runs dry we can’t focus, think clearly, or remember information very well. Very few people are aware of the ebb and flow of their mental energy.

Because my job of being a pastor requires that I think about people’s problems in order to help them, to think about how to communicate truth so that it is understood and easy to apply, and to think about God, His Word, to understand it, and teach it in a way that people can use it to live their lives successfully, I can get mentally fatigued easily. Because I am burning up so much mental energy in the course of a normal day I have learned how to read my mental energy gas gauge, how to fill it back up, and how to increase the size of my gas tank.

The most effective and powerful way to increase my mental energy tank is to spend long periods of time memorizing Bible verses. Memorizing is a very high mental energy drain and doing it every day for 30 minutes to an hour is equivalent to riding my bike, lifting weights or going running physically. When I first started memorizing for a minimum of 30 minutes my brain would get so fatigued I could hardly think or focus on anything, but now I can go hard for at least an hour. It has paid huge dividends in being able to think in a focused way for several hours at a time. Having a lot of mental energy is not the same as being smart or highly intelligent, it means that we can focus mentally, solve problems, and create with our mind.

One of the things I have learned is not to use up my mental energy on things that don’t have much return for me in what I accomplish. One of the most mentally draining activities is to listen to a negative speech, like what is common on the news or talk shows, or to be involved in a negative conversation. I just read a book on “thinking” and I saved this quote, “According to Stanford University biology professor Robert Sapolsky, studies have shown that after listening to 30 minutes of negative speech, the neuron cells located in the hippocampus begin dying. And this is the part of the brain related to problem-solving, so those are definitely neurons worth keeping!”

I let myself get addicted to reading and listening to a ton of news stuff in the last two years, but I have recently gotten free of that. Now I read a little bit of the news to stay informed, and I memorize Bible verses way more.

2 thoughts on “Mental Energy

  1. Skeet

    One of the comments I read years ago, “ if you want to have a bad night of sleep, just watch the 10 pm news before you go to bed.” I stopped watching TV news 20 years ago. Easier to read about the events I am interested in.

    Liked by 1 person


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