Gretchen Rubin

Is Your World Filled With People Who Are “Radiators” or “Drains”?

Is Your World Filled With People Who Are “Radiators” or “Drains”?

Over the holiday weekend, I managed to do a lot of reading--which made me very happy.

Among other things, I read Past Imperfect, a novel by Julian Fellowes (a man of many accomplishments, such as winning an Academy Award for best original screenplay for the brilliant movie Gosford Park).

The novel's narrator made an observation that has stuck with me.

"Years later, a friend would describe her world as being peopled entirely by radiator and drains. If so, then Damian was King Radiator. He warmed the company he was in."

More and more, it seems to me that energy is an enormously helpful clue as to whether a person,  activity,  or place is a happiness-booster, or not. I find it's useful to ask: "Does this person make me feel energized?" or "Does this activity, though intimidating and frustrating, make me feel more energetic in the long run?"

Perhaps counter-intuitively, in my experience, some people who are quite low-energy nevertheless act as radiators--because it's not their personal verve that matters, but their level of engagement and quality of their ideas. And some people who are very high-energy and gung-ho end up being drains, because they somehow make things harder instead of easier, or put a damper on other people's observations and ideas. (And by "other people's observations and ideas," I mean my observations and ideas. I admit!)

I love dividing the world into two categories. Leopards and alchemists. Abstainers and moderators. Maximizers and satisficers.

How about you? Do you think the distinction between "radiators" and "drains" is a useful way to think about things?

icon emailNewsletterLight

Get monthly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

icon schooled

Find out if you’re an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or a Rebel.

The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t actOur Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

Take the quiz

Get My Monthly Newsletter

Sign up to get my free monthly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here, my Facebook Page, and new original work.