Strike Anywhere

Wouldn’t it be nice if our mental, emotional, and spiritual lives required no activation energy?

Activation energy is the energy you have to put into a system to start a chemical reaction. Paper doesn’t burn on its own—you have to provide the match or the lightning bolt. Applying this concept to life in general is a brilliant idea I am stealing from a biology professor I recently interviewed.

Activation energy in life is the oomph it takes us to force ourselves to begin things: go to the gym, do our taxes, write a blog post, bake a cake. Even when I know the result will be enjoyable—cake!—beginning is often difficult. Lying down on the couch seems like a better idea. Sometimes, I really need to lie down on the couch, but oftentimes, activation energy appears to require the power burner on a professional gas range when a match will do.

The problem is that I don’t usually recognize the illusion. Whatever I’m avoiding appears to be a long and arduous journey fraught with peril when really the first couple of steps are just a little muddy.

I think being more conscious of this difficulty with beginnings will help me remember that my resistance isn’t as powerful as it seems. Instead of telling myself, wow, this is way too difficult, I must lie down on the couch, I can say, oh, that’s just the activation energy talking; I only have to take a few steps and then the reaction will continue on its own.