Few people are fans of persistent effort, trying to sustain oneself through any task or project. Effective self-motivation is something that sets normal people apart from high-achievers.
While motivation is a personal effort, there are certain key factors that can help most of us who are trying to lose weight, save, or working on a challenging initiative.
One has to set goals that feel rewarding and interesting while being specific. Just having to know that you have to go to the gym may feel like a chore, but setting a goal of running 10,000 steps or doing 20 reps feels like a rewarding challenge.
In cases where one would find nothing interesting about the activity, and still has to do it, one can find certain elements of the work that may have fringe benefits.
Goals should have intrinsic motivation, something that stokes our fire from within.
If people choose goals that are pleasant, the work gets done. On the other hand, if the external reward is big enough, people do unpleasant tasks as well, but not with enthusiasm. Example: Working only for the monthly wage (the extrinsic motivation) turns many people into ‘wage slaves’ who put in the minimum effort necessary to earn their income.
If you are trying to lose weight and reward yourself with a pizza every time you complete a milestone, the hard work is likely to be undone soon. Achievement of goals is not an incentive for indulgence.
Research shows that uncertain rewards are a better external motivator than those which are certain. People are willing to invest more time, money and effort into something that feels thrilling.
Example: A chance to win anything between $50 to $150 creates a greater motivation than an assured win of $100 on completion of the task.
A backwards technique of motivation is exploiting the preference to avoid losses over acquiring gains. Making people aware that they will lose something if the activity isn’t completed is a fear-based but effective method of external motivation.
Example: Making people pay a fine if they don’t walk a certain amount of steps in a day makes them complete their target.
Example: The coffee stamps that indicate a person is just two coffee purchases away from earning a reward triggers more coffee consumption.
As humans are social creatures, we consciously and unconsciously imitate the mannerisms, actions and habits of those around us.
Watching the ambitious, efficient and highly successful coworkers can sometimes backfire, as it can feel demotivating. One has to look at the thing which is being sought after, the achievement that one is moving towards, and talk to the successful person to find their motivation.
For people struggling to find motivation, taking advice sometimes is less effective than actually giving it. By giving advice to others, they internally solidify their learnings and turn towards following it themselves, increasing their own drive and achievements.
Example: Teaching a subject to others makes us learn the subject more, than simply reading about it.
Taking five mandatory actions, however small, on a regular basis makes for a routine that has nowhere else to go but eventual success, provided the action is a system practised daily, just like saving up 5 dollars every day no matter what.
Example: Calling up five clients every day. Creating five meetings or virtual appointments, writing five pages of your book, calling and following up with five recruiters to find you a job.
Success is inevitable if a system is followed daily. It is the sum of small efforts, repeated every day.
One can start small, by learning five new words every day in a language we want to master or even writing five sentences in your journal. Keep it regular, and see the magic of compounding.
Loneliness has become a "plague," and "epidemic" that strikes young and old. But loneliness is not a universal human condition. It is a historically specific one.
Before 1800, the word loneliness was not really used in the English language. Where it was used, it meant the same as oneliness - the state of being one or single. Trees were lonely; roads were lonely. Before the 19th century, people did live alone, but they weren't lonely.
Loneliness requires two thing:
In pre-modern society, religion gave meaning to all existence. God was always there. But modernity brought uncertainty. Scientific medicine questioned the certainty of the soul, urbanisation disrupted traditional communities, and existential philosophy searched for meaning without God. In this context, loneliness was invented and maintained by neoliberal policies.
When we consider this emotion a product of history, rather than an automatic biological response, we can find more nuanced solutions to loneliness.
Loneliness is not a single emotion. It contains emotional states such as anger, sadness, jealousy, resentment, grief, and hope. Structural loneliness caused by poverty, infirmity, disability and illness is different from existential loneliness where a person is yearning for others. This means that tailored interventions are vital.
The act of "Being Well" (not "wellbeing") involves the five elements of "PERMA".
Learning these state shifts in addition to conventional tools to do well will help you feel great when objectively you may already be great.
Some tools Martin Seligman suggests are:
To flourish is not to "learn to manage."
It is to live daily in a state where you are able to really appreciate, celebrate, and value your accomplishments; where you know you have the inner strength and resilience to survive a crisis, rebuild when exhausted and still thrive.
By learning to fight, he was able to better understand who he was — he could force himself out of his comfort zone, test his limits, and confront his fears.
Bruce Lee saw life as being in constant change.
Unless we learn to adapt to it, we’re bound to experience tremendous resistance that will entrap us in a constant state of suffering.
Bruce didn’t subscribe to a dogma of any kind.
Although he was an avid reader of religion, philosophy, and martial arts, he viewed religious or philosophical ideologies at best only as signposts pointing to the truth, but not as the truth itself.
The truth for him was multi-sided and beyond what words can express.Therefore, it can't be named, packaged, and presented in a certain way without losing its essence.
Bruce Lee pointed out that in order for a relationship to go on past that stage of initial excitement, plenty of time is required. Once this happens, love can grow deeper and take root in two people's hearts.
“Love is like a friendship caught on fire."
Bruce Lee saw life as an ongoing journey to wisdom.
Through everyday experiences, including mistakes, you get to better understand who you are.
For Bruce Lee, knowledge that isn't applied is useless, for it serves no actual purpose.
He was also a philosophy badass.
From a very young age, Bruce Lee was obsessed with learning how to make the most out of his life - by the age of 30, he possessed thousands of titles in his library, most of which on self-help, philosophy, and martial arts. He tries to apply what he learned in real life.
They're about taking responsibility for unintentionally (or even intentionally) hurting someone emotionally or physically.
You apologize less because of you and your crime, but because of its effects on someone, usually someone you say you care about.
All great achievements involve some measure of collaboration.
Some geniuses were obvious partners - like Orville and Wilbur Wright, or Marie and Pierre Curie, or John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Then there are other more obscure cases where collaboration was the driver of creativity.
We are just not so aware of it, because much of the creative exchange happens quietly to the side, and does not become part of our modern history.
There is the case of Emily Dickinson. But looking closer, it becomes clear that she was immensely interested in people and wrote hundreds of poems for particular people, and sending them to them.
The big idea is that genius partnerships are stories of dialogue. As Warren Buffett said about Charlie Munger: "Charlie does the talking, I just move my lips."
Some competition is important. Rivalry can push people to great heights. When one does excellent work, the other feels the need to do even better.
Matisse and Picasso built on each other, each trying to better the other.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney found pleasure in their rivalry of a joint enterprise.
The power of collaboration shows up everywhere: between professor and student, where the student learns from the professor, and the professor discovers new things from the questions of the student.
If you want to find a new collaborative,
Making excuses about our social transgressions comes natural to us, as we experience guilt or shame upon committing the error. The excuse is our attempt to lessen the potential (or imagined) blame from others or even ourselves.
Example: Giving the excuse of being too busy to call up a friend on their birthday works both ways, as apart from saving our face, we also mask the fact that we are a thoughtless and negligent entity.
Excusing the behaviour of our friends and loved ones can help us keep the relationship intact, and provides us with a tool to cover up the relationship issues and the internal problems that have no apparent solution except suppression.
In extreme cases this leads to bigger problems of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Mindfulness is the act of being aware of our present experience in real-time.
Normally people start processing inside their minds what they experience, creating perceptions. At its core, mindfulness puts our attention towards the present moment, with kindness, empathy and interest. This continuous act of being in the present moment with interest is called ‘simple knowing’.
Mindfulness can be practised to:
Mindfulness opens up a space inside our minds that helps us respond to outside situations with ease, instead of just reacting impulsively.
We become aware and are able to detect our default setting, which is our ‘driven-doing mind’, and catch hold of it before any impulsive reaction is acted upon. It also helps us arrest our cycle of negative thoughts.
Stop the rush of the mind from planning the day and simply take some slow, deep breaths.
While falling asleep at night, set an intention to ‘see’ the morning experience as soon as you wake up. As soon as you realize you are awake, notice the smells and sounds of the morning, checking up your mind, body, breath and energy levels. Do not rush towards the smartphone.
Mindfulness can be applied to any task, by paying your full attention and gentle interest.
Even the taste of your breakfast will be different if you pause and savour it. You can also pay attention to your body sensations, moods, thoughts as the day goes by.
Mindfulness is more difficult than it sounds as our attention is gone in a few seconds from our intended focus point.
Take note of your daily habits and stuff you do without thinking, like checking your phone notifications, or washing your hands, and plant ‘cues’ in them to be mindful. Feeling the sun on your skin, adjusting your posture, or relishing your coffee are all acts of mindfulness.
Mindfulness may make you mistakenly assume that you are having lots of negative thoughts, but the reality is that now you are more aware and attentive to your thoughts and are able to register them.
Mindfulness can require some resilience, as you may be tempted to go back to being in a perpetual mind-sleep again when you are not completely conscious of yourself.
The DO-IT formula makes us take any task, like eating a meal, going for a walk, or being with friends and family as a mindfulness practice:
To help stabilize your attention and set you up on a higher frequency, you can start a formal meditation practice, setting aside just 10 minutes in the beginning:
It is a form of cognitive distortion which generally gravitates towards the negative. This happens without any justifiable cause or reason and is not based on any fact.
It is like owning a crystal ball that only predicts misery.
The basic psychology about visiting a fortune teller is that the mind is cognitively distorted and needs reassurance. When a fortune teller tells you that everything is going to be ok, the negative thoughts start to diminish.
An extreme of a cognitive distortion is believing that everything will happen according to the wishes, and would be perfect in every way.
But life can be miserable if a person is always having unrealistic expectations out of situations and people. Things are bound to go wrong too sometimes. Learn to be a realist.