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Not Feeling Energized? The Problem May Not Be What You Think

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We are told to eat more protein, eat less protein, get more sleep, get up earlier, cut down on sugar, work out – but not too hard. When it comes to just how to feel better, it all gets pretty confusing. And yet so often, while many of the things we are told can help us, they ignore the root of the problem.


And that is engagement. If you don’t feel engaged, it really doesn’t matter how much sleep you get, or protein you eat.


Engagement is about feeling as if what you do matters, impacts something greater than yourself, and calls upon your strengths. Engagement also helps us extend beyond ourselves – allows us to transcend our own doubts, fears and insecurities – and uniquely connects us with meaning. And not surprisingly, engaged people feel better, are more productive, and yes, have a lot more energy. Here are three ways to add more engagement in your life.


Use Your Strengths. Many people don’t know what their strengths are. Some people don’t think they have any. And most simply get thrust into occupations or life positions, without ever questioning, “Does this work allow me to use my strengths?” Consequently, we may never ask ourselves what are strengths are. And yet everybody has strengths. One quick way to find them is to think back upon a time when you didn’t question yourself. When you knew just what you were doing, and how to do it. Whether the activity itself was a job, hobby, or personal pursuit doesn’t matter. What matters is that you felt strong when you were doing it – which is one of the best indications of when we are using our strengths. You can also take a strength inventory like the Signature Strength Survey, offered through the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology website. Once you have an idea of what your strengths are, craft them into your day. Some people craft jobs around their strengths, some devote a few hours every day to personal projects that use them, while others may pursue a different life altogether. And they all report the same thing – feeling more alive.


Do Meaningful Work. Ask yourself if what you do improves the lives of others. If the answer is no, it may be time to reconsider. Because when we connect our work to a larger purpose – such as helping others, correcting an injustice, or taking measurable action to solve a problem – we don’t just feel better, we also feel more connected to ourselves. What we do matters deeply to us, and when we recognize – and are able to act upon – our values, we are our most authentic selves. All of our energy can be devoted to the task – what matters to us, and has meaning outside of us – which can offer some pretty big rewards.


Share Your Experience With Others. When we work with others toward a shared goal, we tend to be much happier. The rewards of this sort of work go beyond the external – money, power, fame – and center around things like camaraderie, connection, gratitude, teamwork, and altruism. Participating in a collective experience not only boosts happiness, but several studies have shown that it also boosts performance. In one study, sports teamed were asked to spend the money won in competitions either on themselves, or on others. The teams assigned to the “pro-social” condition had a dramatic improvement in their winning percentage. It is these pro- social incentives – winning while others succeed – that tend to have not just the greatest impact on our performance, but also on our motivation. Being motivated by helping others, turns out to be one of the best motivators of all – and a very good source of energy.





Anik, L., Aknin, L.B., Norton, M.I., Dunn, E.W., & Quoidbach, J. (2013). Prosocial bonuses increase employee satisfaction and team performance. PloS ONE, 8(9):e75509. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075509



Claire Dorotik-Nana is the author of LEVERAGE: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards. For more information on Claire, or her work, visit





Not Feeling Energized? The Problem May Not Be What You Think

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2015). Not Feeling Energized? The Problem May Not Be What You Think. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2019, from


Last updated: 9 Jun 2015
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