Some meetings leave you drained, depleted, and despondent.
Other meetings leave you energized, excited, and enlivened.
It’s the same for any activity. Some add to your sense of life, some subtract from it.
Paying close attention to these feelings (without getting bitter at or idolizing their causes) and learning the patterns and principles in each activity that leads to them is worthwhile. Once you can start to identify the stuff that makes you like your life less, you can start to reduce and eliminate it.
It’s important to distinguish life-giving from easy, and life-stealing from hard.
Lots of the best stuff is hard. Ever watch a kid do the really hard work of overcoming fear or lack of confidence to try something new like ride a bike? It’s brutal. But the glow on their face once they’ve done it is unmistakable evidence that energy was added by the action.
Lots of the energetically vampiric stuff is easy. Just going along with the flow, taking the path of least resistance will put you in life-sucking situations on the regular. Like taking that government job. Washington, D.C. is the worst city in the country because almost everything everyone does there drains life energy from them. Ride the metro at rush hour. Just being near it starts to drain your sense of life.
Without getting too frustrated on the one hand or self-righteous on the other, I try to dispassionately observe which kinds of activities and individuals are a net gain for my enjoyment of being alive. I try to learn why. I try to allocate more of my time there, and less everywhere else.
That’s exactly why I write every day. It’s one of those activities that never fails to add more energy than it takes.