Several years ago I read the book How Full Is Your Bucket? by author Tom Rath. Although the message was simple, I clearly remember its advice for creating a happy and fulfilled life. So when I was offered a review copy of Rath’s newest book Are You Fully Charged? I jumped at the chance. After all, who couldn’t benefit from a book with a subtitle like “The three keys to energizing your work and life”? And if you’re anything like me, it doesn’t matter how many times I am reminded of positive and life affirming messages, I’m always open to hearing them again in a new way and different way.
Are You Fully Charged? is similar to Rath’s earlier work promoting a simple and practical approach to living an optimistic and meaningful life. Yet in spite of the fact that there is an increasing amount of research available proving the benefits of such a lifestyle, we are all challenged on a daily basis to translate that into our own personal lives and actions. Fortunately Rath has done the work for us by first identifying 2,600 ways to improve our daily experiences, and then narrowing them down in his book to the top three keys to a living life fully charged. They are:
#1 Find meaning and purpose. Even though meaning is a critical element in a happy life, Rath’s research shows that only 20% of us “spent a lot of time doing meaningful work yesterday.” Unfortunately, it appears that a majority of us are filling our time doing things that lack this essential motivation. And don’t let the word “work” throw you. While Rath does target much of his writing towards a business community, his advice has value for us all. The takeaway from this idea is that we all need to intentionally direct and feel our life has purpose and meaning in order to be happy and fully alive. What’s one simple way to do that? Rath recommends that you, “Try to remind yourself why you do what you do every day.”
#2 Make every interaction count. Rath’s research reports that only 16% of us had an extremely positive interaction yesterday. He thinks we can do far better. He says, “Life is a composite of millions of individual interactions… and…people who report having great interactions throughout the day were nearly four times as likely to have very high well-being.” With that in mind, Rath recommends that we need to stay closely connected and pursue frequent interactions with our friends.
With a focus on positive relationships, Rath repeats some of his ideas from How Full Is Your Bucket? He reminds us that our words either connect us with others or drive a wedge between us. He says, “At least 80% of your conversations should be focused on what’s going right.” In addition Rath is adamant that technology should be limited when it comes to quality relationships. To prove the point Rath reports a 2014 study called “The iphone Effect” that “shows how the mere presence of a Smartphone can ruin a conversation.” Apparently study participants reported the overall quality of the conversation as less fulfilling whenever a mobile devise was visible and “people reported having higher levels of empathetic concern when phones were not visible.” Clearly, anyone who wants to have better interactions would be SMART to put their iphone away.
#3 Focus on your health and energy. While most of us acknowledge that health and energy are important, Rath says that only 11% of us claim to have a great deal of energy on any given day. Using ideas from his previous book titled, Eat Move Sleep, Rath is convinced that those three areas deeply influence our well being on a day-to-day basis. Offering advice based upon research and his own health challenges, Rath provides suggestions about diet, our sleep and our exercise—or lack thereof.
For example, a Penn State study that tracked patient’s health for over 10 years is particularly interesting. According to Rath, “This study revealed that participants who became upset by daily stressors and dwelled on them were more likely to suffer from chronic health problems—from pain to cardiovascular issues—10 years later.” By suggesting that what we stress about today has the ability to haunt us in the future is more than enough reason to attempt to reduce it today. Fortunately we are all resilient and by taking steps to eat, move and sleep we can make sure we are fully charged in the future.
Like How Full Is Your Bucket? Rath’s new book is a fast read. It’s a little pricey and won’t likely blow your mind with new and exciting data, but it will consistently help to remind you of three important factors to create a happy and rewarding life. I, for one, don’t think those ideas ever get old. Plus, between the lines there is a very SMART underlying message that reminds us that our well being does not depend upon accumulating riches, that experiences matter more than stuff, and that our relationships are primary. If you would appreciate a little help remembering a few of the little elements that make up a great day, then I recommend Are You Fully Charged?
I received a free advance copy of this book in return for this review. The book is set to be released May 5, 2015 and will be widely available. I am always happy to review other books who fit within the SMART Living Mission.