Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Is Your Spirit Simmering?

Are you cold, lukewarm, simmering or boiling?Each of us conveys our personal enthusiasm, energy, and strength, through the things we say and do and our overall approach to life and work. People around us react and respond to us based on our actions–not our intentions.

There is nothing attractive, admirable, inspiring or compelling, about someone who is only existing without showing any spirit. On the other hand, we are sometimes overwhelmed and put-off by someone who is over-the-top in their enthusiasm. As always, we need to aim for the maximum that is effective–not less and not more:

Keep your spirit on simmer most of the time and boiling when it needs to be. You will present yourself to others in a way that is most likely to inspire confidence and admiration. You will also be able to sustain your energy and enthusiasm in a positive way.

Consider some of those you associate with as though each is a pot of water. (OK now, be nice!) Think about what you are seeing most of the time, regarding their interest in the people and events around them and their courage in the face of personal and professional challenges. Think about how you would describe the spirit of each one, then consider:

  • Are they cold? Do they just sit there and exist, with little energy for others? Do they seem more focused inwardly than outwardly? Do they appear to not be involved mentally or emotionally in most things? Are their conversations mostly about themselves? Do they add very little warmth to any situation and have to rely on others to get things cooking ?
  • Are they lukewarm? Do they make slight efforts to be and do more, but not enough to really have an impact? Do they only show the level of energy necessary to get by and satisfy supervisors or others, but not enough to really contribute on their own? Do they seem to only care about others when it is convenient for them? Do they require a supervisor to turn up the heat  when work requires unusual energy?
  • Are they simmering? Do they stay energized and enthused so they are always ready to boil when high levels of energy are necessary? Do they show they are involved, interested, and actively part of the people and events around them? Do they seem ready to go if their efforts are needed? Is their energy controlled effectively, so it is useful not stressful?
  • Are they boiling? When matters are important, are they energized and enthused with a spirit of willingness to work? Do they use their high levels of energy in a way that provides positive leadership for others? Instead of being boiling mad, are they boiling glad?  (Does that sound like Jesse Jackson, or what?)
  • Are they boiling over? Is their energy and enthusiasm often out of control, so they create more problems than they solve? Are they so excessive that others do not hear their messages, even if they are worthwhile? Do they need to put a lid on it, and calm down a bit so they are more useful to everyone?

What about you? Think about the behaviors that led you to evaluate others as you did, and consider how you might be described. If you want to show that you have turned up the temperature on your spirit, consider these indicators of simmering-and-prepared-to-boil:

  • Have an energized posture, stance, and stride. Look as though you have life in your life!
  • Sound power-full and happy. Do not groan every time you get out of a chair, moan about work or home, or creak in protest over many things every day. All of those are dispiriting to those around you and to yourself. You do not have to be grinning all the time, just try to avoid excessive complaining. (If you are ill or in genuine pain and you cannot make it better, you are excused from this requirement! But only then!)
  • Work with power and energy. Give everything your best, all the time.
  • When you talk to others or do work, purposely demonstrate interest and enthusiasm. Do not flop into chairs, lean on every surface, slump through the day and/or have a droopy face that looks exhausted, miserable, bitter, sulky or unwelcoming.
  • Avoid frustrating and irritating those around you by going to the other extreme with your bombastic style or your unfocused passion for life or work. Often the person who is bouncing off the walls with his or her specific passion appears to be motivated by ego. If you find you are being resented and resisted, ask someone you trust to tell you if your high energy manner is hurting you, rather than reflecting your spirit positively.

Keep your mind and spirit simmering all the time–and ready for a controlled boil when the heat is on!

June 20th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 7 comments


  1. Excellent thoughts, Tina, as always. I haven’t commented for awhile but I continue to read regularly and always find inspiration and insight, as you promise. This article is one that I can send to parishioners, with a note about how it applies to our faith. Don

    Comment by Don Roberson | June 20, 2008

  2. Thanks Don, for your comment. I’ve missed hearing from you!

    Please keep in touch. Tina

    Comment by Tina | June 20, 2008

  3. Do you have any advice for how to get people to put a lid on it, without making them mad or hurting their feelings? S.B.

    Comment by SandyRKO | June 20, 2008

  4. Hi Sandy! I’ve sent you an email, but will save the response here until later, when I do it as an article. Thanks for the question! T.

    Comment by Tina | June 20, 2008

  5. I’ve looked at dozens of people at work since I read this, and can report that many of them seem either to be cold, lukewarm or boiling over. The interesting thing is that the most accomplished people were obviously simmering. I could almost see it, when I looked for the signs you mentioned.

    At lunch I watched how people got up from the table in the break room and the differences were astonishing between the cold and lukewarm types and the simmering types. I am going to monitor myself to make sure I don’t do some of those downer things you mentioned.

    All the best! CR

    Comment by C.Ritter | June 23, 2008

  6. Some people are just not upbeat by nature, so they aren’t going to look like they have a lot of energy, even if they are happy. We make too many judgments about people based on how they look and act, rather than what they have inside them and that is a lot more important to my way of thinking. I would lots rather work with someone who groans or complains now and then but is a good worker than someone who is all upbeat but doesn’t do a good job.

    Comment by Anonymous | June 23, 2008

  7. Dear Anonymous, thank you for your comment! I wrote the part about negative actions because my experience, and the things I hear hundreds of others say, makes me think we are more affected by how people act, than how they feel. We do not know how they feel, but we certainly know how they affect us.

    Someone may not feel as unhappy as they act, or as angry as they act, or even as happy as they act, but the result for us is the same as if they DO feel that way. That is the source of the thought that we judge ourselves by our intentions but others judge us by our actions.

    I heartily agree with you that being upbeat doesn’t make up for not doing well at work. But, I don’t think we have to choose between acting positive and doing good work. And, when you think of how upsetting it is for everyone else when someone acts miserable at work, it reminds us that the complete picture of good work includes positive actions.

    I sent you an email with some further thoughts, and hope you will feel free to respond if you wish and have the time. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your thoughts and your willingness to share them. Please keep reading and commenting! Tina

    Comment by Tina | June 23, 2008

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