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Luciana Owain

@luciow

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Motivation Is Personal

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.

@luciow

How to Keep Working When You’re Just Not Feeling It

hbr.org

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.

  • Most people working towards a goal witness periods of motivation(like in the beginning) and a slump(somewhere around the middle).
  • One way to overcome this slump is to have smaller goals or subgoals that give no time for a slump to happen.
  • Another way is to chart out the progress in such a way that it is fully visible and the end of the goal is in sight, creating an illusion to work just a bit more and get further towards the goal.

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.

Achieve Goals Faster: The Rule Of Five
  • While starting out to accomplish a goal, we feel overwhelmed with the abundance of advice and information, creating an analysis paralysis.
  • Inaction and decision fatigue ensues, as we lose track of where to begin.
  • The Rule Of Five is a remedy to this problem. It is a commitment to take five daily actions (also called systems) to move quickly towards one’s goal.

The Rule of Five: How to Achieve Your Goals Faster | Sam Thomas Davies

samuelthomasdavies.com

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 is a historically specific condition

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 Is a Modern Invention

time.com

Loneliness requires two thing:

  1. A lack of meaning in one's relationships
  2. A sense of the self as separate from others

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.

Martin Seligman
"When you remove depression from a person, you aren't left with a happy person...you're left with an empty person...sometimes people need to learn what BEING WELL is."

Thriving is NOT simply "being able to deal with it". Use positive psychology for BEING well

draudreyt.com

The act of "Being Well" (not "wellbeing") involves the five elements of "PERMA".

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

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:

  • Sending a letter of gratitude to someone.
  • Intentionally use one of your strengths daily in an unusual way. For example, if your strength is hope and optimism, you could volunteer to teach or mentor.
  • Physical exercise, such as a walk or run.
  • Self-improvement through reading or taking a course.
  • Creativity - composing, art, dance crafts.
  • Focusing on friendships that energise you.
  • Reframing - choosing not to see things as 'good' or 'bad' but 'effective' or ineffective.'
  • Healthy substitutions you love within in easy reach.
  • Keeping positive pictures easily accessible.
  • Self-compassion - doing things that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, such as a bubble bath or a cup of tea.

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.

Self-discovery
Martial arts was not merely a competitive sport for Bruce Lee, but in essence a means of self-discovery and self-expression.

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's Profound Philosophy of Life: 7 Mind-Shifting Insights That Will Awaken Your Inner Warrior

theunboundedspirit.com

Be like water

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
It is not daily increase but daily decrease, hack away the unessential. The closer to the source, the less wastage there is.” &

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
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” &

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.

  • Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
There’s more to Bruce Lee than martial arts

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.

Apologies are not about right and wrong

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.

The Art of the Apology

psychologytoday.com

The lone genius is a myth

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. 

  • Van Gogh had a brother Theo, who was "as much their creator as I, because the two of us are making them together."
  • Picasso rose to the height of his creativity through a friendly rivalry with Matisse.
  • After "a lot of discussions" with Michele Besso, Einstein "could suddenly comprehend the matter."

Is the lone genius a total myth?

vox.com

The interaction between people is indeed the fundamental engine of the creative process.

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.

Remarkable creativity from one person

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."

Rivals end up as collaborators

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, 

  • meet up with people who share your interests. 
  • Look for the person that challenges you the most. The person may be very different from you and even drive you crazy.
Making Excuses

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.

Why We Make Excuses

thriveglobal.com

  • An excuse can provide us a sense of control on our lives, viewing our mistakes as an anomaly.
  • Shifting responsibility to an external force seems safer than a simple apology ("Sorry, I had a flat tire".)
  • It helps maintain our social ties and positive perceptions of our colleagues and acquaintances.
  • An excuse can also be an attempt to manipulate the emotions of others.
  • Excuses help us mask our bad habits by comparing them with worse ones.

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.

  • Coming in terms with our shame and guilt and confronting the problem head on is a better way to correct our wrongdoing and learn from past errors.
  • When we tolerate the sensation of public shame, we move towards accepting of our mistakes and learning from them.
Mindfulness And Simple Knowing

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’.

How to find your mindfulness | Psyche Guides

psyche.co

Mindfulness can be practised to:

  1. Manage pain, anxiety, stress, or mood swings.
  2. Provide the body and mind an oasis of calm in between a hectic lifestyle
  3. Reduce suffering, distress and trauma caused by pain and depression, along with the negative emotions that come with life-threatening diseases.

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:

  • D: Directing oneself to be attentive.
  • O: Observing the experience.
  • I: Investigating one’s responses and reactions.
  • T: Trying again.

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:

  • Adjust your body towards an alert and upright position.
  • Close your eyes or lower your gaze, allowing you to concentrate.
  • Bring your kind-hearted attention to the next few moments, being aware of the sensory experiences like touch, sound, sight, and smell.
  • As your mind starts to wander or gets distracted, and random thoughts related to the regrets, dreams and worries about the past or the future begin to flash before you, try to observe them neutrally as passing thoughts, without clinging to them.
  • Do not resist, chase or pull away from your chain of thoughts, and try to recognize your moment-to-moment awareness.
  • Apart from thoughts, you may find certain changes in the mood or other feelings bubbling up on the surface for you to explore.
  • Be aware of the rhythmic breath of your body, from the tip of your nose to your chest/belly.
  • Focus on any sensations that occur on your feet, legs or hands.
Jumping Into Conclusions

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.

Fortunetelling, mind reading and jumping to conclusions

agileleanlife.com

  1. Fortune Telling: When one believes that the negative outcome is already a confirmed fact. The baseless assumptions are a reality inside the mind of a fortune teller. In most cases, things that seem to be a big worry have nothing to do with reality.
  2. Mind Reading: Instead of focusing on probable bad situations, a mind reader creates unverified negative assumptions about people. These can be about people not respecting you, or about not getting acceptance from someone.

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.

  1. Check the facts to see if the situation is all in your head or has some ground.
  2. Be aware of the time the negative thought enters your mind, and place a barrier on the entry, saying to yourself ‘We don’t know that yet’.
  3. Think of past events that were positive and understand that the mind can over analyse stuff. Understand that it serves no benefit to panic right now.
  4. Trust yourself and life, believing that things are going to be okay, no matter what happens. Distrusting yourself leads one to rely on external crutches.

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.

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