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Tom Rath, author of Are You Fully Charged? The Three Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life describes the three solutions to daily well-being in life and at work in his latest book. At an early age Rath was diagnosed with a genetic condition causing cancerous growth throughout the body, and as a result, Rath decided to focus both on personal well-being on a daily basis, but also on sharing his work with others, helping them to realize their full potential and focus on their own well-being. The book is divided into three sections or key concepts that Rath discusses and explains in depth. These key concepts are; meaning, interactions and energy.
In section one, Rath focuses on the notion of finding meaning in everyday life and in work. Rather than focusing solely on a paycheck, Rath believes that we need to move beyond the pull of simply receiving a paycheck and instead focus on the meaning of our work, and how we can help others as part of what we do on a daily basis. Rath explains that it is important to avoid upward comparison with others, and instead focus on our strengths and interests, so that we are better equipped at helping others while finding meaning in our own lives. Ways of doing this includes initiating changes in our own lives that benefit both you and the people around you., making sure that you have enough time in the day for other people, focus less on your smartphone device, and more on the people around you in daily interactions, while making sure that you take regular breaks and maintain a balance between being busy and having time for others.
Section two discusses the notion of interactions, and ties in to both the first concept (meaning) and the last (energy). Rath believes that it is important to assume good intent. That means most negative interactions may not stem from bad intent, instead a person may act out based on something going on at home or at work, or they may be in a situation in which they have a difficult time handling. Therefore, rather than letting that negative interaction ruin your day, try not to get worked up and dwell on the situation, because it will only make your day less enjoyable. There are many other ways in which you can solidify and focus on positive daily interactions. Use positive words as glue, rather than negative ones when at work. Try not to ignore other people as that can be very detrimental to ones relationships. This includes turning off or putting your phone away when you are with a group of people. Make sure that you focus on the person in front of you rather than be glued to your smartphone during an entire conversation. Be inquisitive and ask other people questions about themselves to establish trust while being open and honest about your own life.
Focusing on meaning and interactions at work and in life while staying positive is no easy task if you are constantly tired and low on energy. Therefore, the third key concept is that of energy. Rath believes that it is important to put your own health first. If you do not feel well, if you are tired and lethargic, then chances are that this is going to impact not only yourself, but also the people around you. Therefore, self-care is a very important concept. Make sure that you start with the basics, such as eating healthy foods that will help you feel energized, since foods can actually change your mood. Also, many of us do much more sitting than standing and walking around, but our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our health, if not dangerous. Make sure that you move around, go for a walk, and exercise to maintain energy in your daily life. Rath also discusses how important it is for our bodies and our well-being that we get enough sleep. People who do not sleep enough are more likely to get sick, are less alert, less productive, and their well-being suffers as a result. Stress is another factor that is detrimental to our health. Identify the stressor and come up with ways in which to deal with stress before it makes you sick. Chronic stress is bad for your health, but knowing how to deal with stressors, coupled with eating healthy, staying active and getting enough sleep will help decrease stress and levels of anxiety. Make sure that you create a positive charge in your own life, and the lives of others.
In conclusion, Rath provides the reader with tools and resources needed to change ones daily habits and focus on well-being. For every concept discussed in the book Rath includes chapter discussion questions for the reader to think about and write down. Rath also provides his audience with a list of essential reading materials for those interested in expanding their knowledge on certain topics. Are You Fully Charged is an interesting and worthwhile read that includes concrete steps on how to change the key areas of your life so that you experience well-being on a daily basis. The target audience is those who feel that they are lacking in these areas, but most of us could benefit from reading the book. Rath mixes personal stories with research in a way that makes it easy for the reader to follow along with the book, and it creates tangible steps towards change.
© 2015 Hennie Weiss
Hennie Weiss has a Master's degree in Sociology from California State University, Sacramento. Her academic interests include women's studies, gender, sexuality and feminism.