Having abundant energy at our command determines far more than just how we feel when it's time to get up. Discover the surprisingly diverse and far-reaching aspects of life in which we can achieve quantum gains with state-of-the-art techniques of personal energy management.

For Socrates, the "unexamined life" was "not worth living." Rather than compromising with the court of Athens after having been found guilty of heresy, he paid the ultimate price for abiding by this belief: his life.

Most of us are hardly as principled. But taking a pause to examine how we begin every day can be the decisive first step on our journey to a more satisfying life.

Introspection may, in fact, lead to greater self-respect and happiness as well as more success in dealing with other persons on and off the job.  In addition, if acted upon appropriately, it's likely to steer us toward greater well-being, better health and — as shown later — more prosperity.

Am I overstating my case? If you think so, please continue reading anyway. You may improve the quality of your life beyond your fondest expectations

End Early-Morning Misery

The distress caused by the early-morning "blahs" is an important reason why seeking to "energize" ourselves right from the start of our waking hours is so eminently worthwhile.

We're supposed to wake up refreshed. But one of every two Americans is unhappy at the onset of every day. Many of those around us engage in negative self-talk such as saying to themselves (and others!) that they "wake up tired every day" or are "always tired."

Their distress ranges from tolerable to extreme.

Some sleepers are merely annoyed at the sound of the alarm. They feel somewhat dizzy and have to struggle to gather the strength to overcome sleep inertia and the force of gravity. But after a while, they're ok. For them, getting up is unpleasant but "no big deal."

But for the less fortunate, getting up is an ordeal. Repeatedly trying to get themselves to rise, they "snooze" their alarm clocks, thus prolonging the agony of depression and defeat — decidedly a bad way to usher in the day.

A Laggard's Miserable Game

After having gotten into trouble with several employers, one sleeper tried yet another approach to his daily "getting-up problem." He placed his clock across the room from his bed. He even varied the clock's location from time to time to make finding it and shutting it off harder. But whenever he finally locates it in his early-morning stupor, he "snoozes" it, goes right back to bed and stays there until another ten minutes have elapsed.

Only after a full hour of playing this miserable game with himself six times in a row does he usually manage to stumble into the shower. "This is a hard way to get going," he conceded in one of his blogs on the internet, "but it's the only way I get it done!"

He enjoys the gentle massaging action of the shower. It relieves his stress somewhat. But he continues to be tormented by "brain daze" for an additional hour or two. This makes it difficult for him not only to get dressed and "organized," but also to maneuver his way through the suburban rush-hour traffic. Upon arrival at his office, he struggles for another half hour to tackle his "real" work instead of just dillydallying.

Having to get out of bed and "getting going" is so abhorrent for him that he dreads it more than anything else. "It ruins my entire life," as he put it.

For many individuals, early-morning discomfort worsens over time and reinforces their (false) conviction that "this is just the way it is, and there's nothing I can do about it ... I just have to live with it for the rest of my life."

Stop "Fatigue Inertia"

A second troubling aspect of early-morning fatigue is its inertia — its staying power. The misery rarely stops when we are up, groomed, dressed, fed and at work. Rather, it tends to perpetuate itself throughout the day. Worse still, lack of energy and the resulting distress often escalate as the day progresses. This happens for reasons that differ from individual to individual. Among them are the following: 

•   Sleepers have difficulties getting ready. 
•   They bump into furniture, cause spills and make other mistakes. 
•  They start over, make corrections, mop up, etc. 
•  They fall behind schedule, try to catch up, and get frustrated if they can't. 
•   They have difficulties finding objects they want to take to work. 
•   On the job, they can't find notes, reports, business cards of "contacts," office supplies etc. 
•   Their work keeps piling up and their stress increases accordingly. 
•   In addition, they may get criticized for being slow and making mistakes, etc. 

The more the stress exacerbates, the more will they believe that this is "just not their day." It just so happened, they think, that they "got up on the wrong side of the bed." If they stay on this negative mind track until late in the day, the adrenaline and other stress hormones may surge so high that they may even become too wound up to fall asleep!

Fatigue and gloom are not unstoppable. With enough effort — especially exercise combined with positive self-talk — we can get ourselves out of the rut. Unfortunately, this may require more energy than we have in our fatigued state of body and mind.

Avoid Ricochet Effects

Third among the reasons why it would be unwise to take chronic energy deficits lightly is that fatigued persons are often not fully in control of themselves and treat others inappropriately.

This, in turn, causes their victims to retaliate. The rebound effect may be immediate. Or it may come to haunt the perpetrators for months, years or even decades.

When we are tired and stressed out, we are in danger of overreacting to the slightest mistakes or provocations. Also, we ignore others or show that we don't care for them, rather than acknowledging them with a friendly smile.

A husband, for instance, may get home from work exhausted. His equally tired stay-at-home wife overwhelms him with a tirade about the bad behavior of their children and wants him to discipline them. Now being just as indifferent to her needs as she is to his, he walks right past her. He heads straight for the cold beer, the chips and his easy chair and tunes in to a sports channel.

For failure to exchange friendly greetings and to acknowledge each others' emotional needs, both feel unappreciated and misunderstood. If this kind of behavior persists, they are likely to grow apart. They will increasingly withdraw their mutual support and love, and may seize future opportunities to "get even." Their quarrels may get out of hand, unravel their family bonds, and ultimately lead to emotional or physical violence.

When people are tired, they are prone to become aloof, uncaring, thoughtless, inconsiderate, grouchy, unfriendly, petulant, repugnant, thin-skinned, aggressive and sarcastic. They tend to:

•   ignore other people and their concerns,
•   frown (rather than smile) at them,
•   overreact even to the most trivial mistakes (rather than overlooking them), and
•   take out their frustrations on those who happen to cross their paths: family, colleagues, acquaintances, other motorists, whoever (rather than venting their anger in less destructive ways). 

Such hurtful behavior is bound to create ricochet effects -- much like bullets fired against a concrete wall will bounce back at the shooter. The reaction can take many forms such as:

•   withholding of support or love,
•   concealed or open opposition,
•   counteraggression in its many forms,
•   acts of sabotage,  
•   defamation (often behind the target's back), and
•   mental or physical abuse. 

Retaliation may come immediately or at any time in the future. Once the relationship is damaged it's no longer totally in one party's power to restore it. The offending person should apologize, make appropriate amends and strive for reconciliation. But the damage can rarely be totally undone.

Prevent Setbacks in Business

There's a forth reason for taking measures to become more energetic. Low energy affects our success and "earning power" in business, professions and other endeavors.

As brilliant and knowledgeable as they may be, individuals with low stamina will hardly ever be among the top performers at any level in any type of organization.

It's hard even for the rank-and-file to keep up with heavy workloads and stay on good terms with bosses, colleagues, customers and others. It's tough also to remain upbeat and friendly in spite of incessant pressures.

Being among the top performers in certain positions -- such as senior executives and traveling sales professionals -- is even more demanding. It necessitates extraordinary vigor.

Top-notch salespersons, for instance, must be able to rise before the crack of dawn to be at the first prospects' doors when they open. They must project contagious enthusiasm for their offerings, cope tactfully with unending objections and resistance, yet be forceful enough to induce their prospects to buy. Upon getting to their hotel rooms after grueling days on the road, they must prepare call reports and expense accounts and plan the following days' work.

Similarly, it's next to impossible for individuals in supervisory and executive positions to rank among the best without relentless efforts. Remaining slumped in their chairs and constantly sipping coffee to stay awake just won't cut it. To be effective, they must seek their workers out on the factory floor, in their offices or wherever they may be. Going out of their way to "connect," they must listen, show genuine interest, encourage and inspire, and project a positive outlook no matter what.

Clawing one's way to the top and holding out against fierce competition is clearly not for the faint-of-heart, surly, weak and perennially fatigued. Not surprisingly, those who make it to the top anywhere are usually the most energetic, dynamic, upbeat, tactful and friendly individuals in their respective organizations. They are also the ones getting the highest compensation.

Guard Your Health

Even more important than the above reasons for our need to start out every day at a high level of energy is our state of health. Fatigue, frustration and stress that begin when it's time to get up usually continue to be felt throughout the day and are almost certain to cause severe illness sooner or later.

The reason for the damaging effect of stress on body and mind is our fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nervous system (which acts without conscious thought) causes the adrenal glands to flood the bloodstream with adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones.

If the stress persists long enough, it ultimately results in serious systemic illness that can affect every part of the body:

•   CIRCULATORY SYSTEM: heart disease (incl. heart attacks), hypertension, arteriosclerosis (incl. circulation problems in arms and legs such as varicose veins), aneurisms (bulges in artery walls). 
•   DIGESTIVE TRACT: gastritis, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids. 
•   REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS: menstrual disorders, vaginal infections, impotence, premature ejaculation.
•   BRAIN: strokes, depression, insomnia, personality changes.
•   MUSCLES: neck, shoulders and other types of musculoskeletal pain.
•   SKIN AND HAIR: eczema, psoriasis, excessive hair loss, some types of baldness.

This list of health problems caused by continual exhaustion and stress is far from complete. But the above organs are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of the "daily grind." In addition, stress can aggravate virtually every other illness.

In summary, being tired already upon awaking is far more serious than commonly recognized. It's not just a traumatic way of beginning our waking hours. It also has adverse consequences for our relations with others on and off the job, our way of coping with stress as well as our state of health.

But even more than being a reason for concern, it's a call for exploring energy potentials and implementing actions that will breathe new vitality and zest into our lives.