There is this funny meme where Yoda is pictured from a scene in Star Wars where he finally passes away while talking to Luke Skywalker. The caption reads, “Once I became a parent I finally understood the scene where Yoda gets so tired of answering Luke’s questions he just dies.”
The other day, my eight-year-old daughter asked me, “Daddy, how do you measure energy?” Like Yoda, I felt like dying. I had no idea how to answer the question, but saying “I don’t know” wouldn’t suffice because my kids think I know everything. They want to know the ways of the force and I am the Jedi Master with the keys to unlocking the universe for them. What I forget is that it’s actually an honor to have questions like these come my way. What my daughter is really saying is, “Daddy, you help me understand the world and this is something I want to understand.”
As a dad, I wanted to use the opportunity to actually do some parenting but was stuck because I didn’t know the first thing about what she was asking. I knew it has something to do with joules and watts, but even that would need further explanation which I am in no way qualified to provide. I told her we could research it later and find out.
It turns out that joules are the official unit of measurement for energy. A Joule is the unit of work or energy in the International System of Units (SI); it is equal to the work done by a force of one newton acting through one metre. Named after James Prescott Joule who was a physicist, it equals 107 ergs, or approximately 0.7377 foot-pounds… It made me wonder how many joules it takes to answer a kid’s question.
“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” — Yoda
Recently, I have been reflecting on what we are capable of as individuals and how the different types of energy we possess influence our journey through life. It is a comforting thought that the type of vibes we invite into our life can provide more agency towards becoming the best versions of ourselves, especially in a world where we often feel powerless. There is a lot of negative energy out there, and at times it seems the world is trying to beat us down. We are constantly reminded of how we are not good enough, compare ourselves to unrealistic ideals, and seek external validation from people we don’t know. It seems like it takes an extreme amount of energy or joules just to survive some days. That is why the energies we choose are so important. They come back to us and so we have to invest wisely.
Take for instance the energy of joy. You know when you’re around someone who is joyful it can be infectious. It radiates off of them and permeates the room. Joy is electric. Joy is a feeling that can’t be contained. It innately wants to leap out and be shared with others. Joy is an energy that easily transfers.
A hug is another way to transfer energy. My friend Mark likes to give heart hugs. It’s where you give someone a hug on the left side so that your hearts are aligned. It’s a simple but meaningful way to embrace. Additionally, a hug is supposed to last 20 seconds in order to deliver the best health benefits. I thought about this and why that was. I came to the conclusion that when you hug someone, when you kiss someone, or when you shake someone’s hand, the more time you put in the more energy you transfer.
A few days later, my daughter asked “Daddy, why do people talk and dogs bark?” I was stumped again. This time instead of trying to answer I remembered my previous thought that she was really asking me to help her understand the world. I asked her to tell me more. “Well what makes a dog bark and what makes people talk? Why don’t dogs talk and people bark?” I let out an exasperated sigh, and then when I knew there was no way to answer the question, I realized that it wasn’t about my answer to her question as much as it was opening up a conversation.
As a dad, it’s an innate reaction—you want to teach your kids, but when you don’t have all of the answers, it can prove challenging. In this case, it was about putting my energy into the conversation and ultimately putting my energy into her. Listening to what her thoughts were and asking what additional questions she had in order to learn more about how she thinks. The conversation ended up lasting the whole ride to school and I got to have these moments with her that I will never forget. Moments where I got to see a tiny glimpse of how my daughter’s mind works. All because of energy.
The truth is, everything is energy—a hug, joy, the sound of a dog’s bark, and the attention you give to someone. The type of energy, however, is up to you. Each day, we get to get up and decide if the energy we want to share is one of joy or one of despair. One of kindness or one of hurt. One we hold on to or one we share with others.
Before he died, Yoda said, “To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night.”
We get to choose the energy we give off, so go out and be joyful, give a 20 second heart hug, and put your energy into someone by giving them your time. The results will speak for themselves. And that’s how you can measure energy.