Two factors contribute to a lack of motivation.
The two factors can work separately. We may have a few problems but little drive and thus don't move ahead. Or our goal could be very desirous, but a proportionately large pain can hinder us from moving forward.
We may have a goal that we don't really desire. One reason for having an undesirable goal is explained by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in their experiment on intrinsic motivation. The theory says that we are less motivated by rewards and more motivated by a sense of autonomy (choice and control) over our actions.
If your goal is to get good grades or exercise daily, but your goal isn't self-generated, it can lead to inconsistent motivation.
The pain of taking action can be another reason why we fail to motivate ourselves. The pain can be fear, boredom, unpleasantness or drudgery. If a task is too unpleasant, we will procrastinate on it.
This knowledge suggests ways we can make progress on our goals.
Tiny, minute changes in the initial conditions, circumstances and events can have a huge, outsized impact on the final outcome.
The Butterfly Effect, which was made mainstream by the 2004 movie of the same name, takes into account the power of a tiny thing, event or action,(like the flapping of a butterfly wing) that can have a domino effect and turn into something tremendously large in impact.
We grow older, not younger, and if we break something, it can’t be unbroken. The world, it seems, goes from order to disorder, getting messy every minute.
The arrow of time only goes forward, and any introduction of randomness creates a multiplier effect in the environment, leading to unpredictable things to happen.
Cognitive Science has certain dynamic systems where many small mental, behavioural, social and neural changes in neurotransmitters, even in tiny parameters, lead to huge effects in their action and behaviour.
A small change in the marketing mix often results in a large improvement or a sales disaster, as consumer behaviour is often complex and non-rational, making it hard to predict correctly over long periods.
Resistance towards what can help us progress is something human beings are experiencing for centuries. Philosophers call this extremely active and relentless force Akrasia.
Akrasia is the barrier between you and a better version of you. When we set plans, deadlines and commit towards a goal(like planning to wake up at 5 am), it is Akrasia that prevents us from following through.
Akrasia is an emotional management problem keeping us from having a better future. It will make up any story to keep us away from something good. It will always prefer instant gratification, harming us in the long run, rather than doing something valuable that can help us in a positive way.
The side effects of Akrasia are stress, guilt, resentment, and missed opportunities.
While the much-hyped motivation and willpower have little effect against Akrasia, mindfulness meditation has the power to refocus your actions, and stop the mindless time-wasting.
Mindfulness acts as a foundation for conquering procrastination. We need to proactively take control of our feelings and act towards our goals, something which is possible only with a mind sharpened with mindfulness.
When we listen to our bodies and find out how it behaves on a daily basis, we come to know its peak periods along with the periods of lull, which help us organize our tasks and activities in better alignment with the body.
When we learn to delay the gratification that we seek instantly, we see a macro view of our life and can visualize where we stand, and where we want to be.
Our brain will continuously sabotage our efforts, but if we push past the resistance intentionally, we find that it was just a paper wall, which we can easily overcome.
According to author James Clear, getting started reduces the friction and sets you up for further accomplishments. Without worrying about results, we simply need to focus on making a regular effort and getting started on it no matter what.
Example: Not exercising is less likely once we are at the gym, but is more likely if we are still in bed.
First thing in the morning:
Many studies have shown that people who are grateful and often count their blessings are those who lead happier and less depressed lives.
Practicing gratitude is an activity where you recall the things you are grateful for and appreciate the things we do have. It is an exercise that yields high results in complementing psychological counseling.
Your internal monologue can be friendly, calm, and encouraging or critical and bullying.
It is possible to change your inner monologue. Fostering compassion on ourselves can benefit not only our individual health and happiness but also that of society.
Developing self-compassion is developing insight so you can see yourself, instead of be yourself.
Many of us have become used to avoiding uncomfortable emotions. The first step towards self-compassion is becoming aware of our inner world - what triggers the feeling of anger, disgust or shame, how we react to them, and the content and tone of our internal monologue.
Ground yourself during discovery with soothing rhythm breathing, muscle relaxation or mindfulness exercises.
Soothing rhythm breathing: With your shoulders back and chest open, slow and deepen your breath. The key is to maintain the smoothness of breath: Four or five seconds in, and the same out again.
Self-compassion is not merely being kind. Compassion is best understood as turning towards suffering and taking action to reduce it.
Self-compassion is the ability to stand back and question why you feel this way, and a commitment to engage with pain at its source.
Our complex cognitive system is able to imagine and anticipate the objective self, but is also inclined to dwell on negative thoughts such as "If only I'd..." and "I should have..."
Self-compassion is a trade-off with self-criticism. For some people, the balance between the two is so skewed that the inner critic controls who they are in the world.
Self-criticism is often underpinned by a fear of not being good enough, being dismissed or devalued, or seen as undesirable. This triggers our threat system and brings out the worst in our brains.
We also live in a society that is always judging and evaluating us. We are not taught how to deal with suffering.
Self-criticism is a dialogue between two aspects of yourself: the one side is attacking and angry, the other is receiving it and feeling upset and hurt.
Instead, imagine your inner dialogue as that of two strangers. As soon as you see it as external from you, you can see it more clearly.
Validate, acknowledge, and reassure yourself.
If you wouldn't say it to a friend, don't say it to yourself. We would seldom tell a friend 'it's not that bad', or 'look on the bright side.' We need to recognise within ourselves when we're hurting.
Speaking to yourself with warmth and kindness can feel like a verbal hug by triggering the physiological memory of feeling safe.
A friendly facial expression and upright and open posture can positively influence your mind.
We learn to laugh at a young age, most at infancy. Being able to laugh during our infancy years helps develop our muscles and upper body strength.
Every time we laugh, it activates many different areas of our brain because it takes a lot of work to be able to laugh, such as the motor cortex, the limbic system, and the frontal lobe. Moreover, laughter can actually help control our serotonin levels and is an actual antidote to stress.
It's an amazing thing what laughter can do because when we laugh, our brains are actually recognizing the absurdity of a situation. It allows us to take a look at another person's perspective and understand their intentions which can increase the intensity of the current situation.
Most of us have heard "learn to take a joke" once in our lives and to be able to "get" a joke, you need to see the lighter side of things and that other possibilities besides the literal exist.
We bond with others through many different means and laughter is one of them. We tend to build intimacy with others when we laugh with them and being happy with other people is being able to appreciate your present.
When we bond with laughter we are sharing our feelings and our emotions with others and feel accepted by them instead of feeling rejected or disliked.
Laughter is a healthy way to manage your emotions and keep them in check. The possibility of producing positive emotions with laughter is high and it could increase one's subjective well-being and life satisfaction.
The positivity we experience with laugher allows you to be able to take yourself less seriously or the situation and increase the chances for the feeling of empowerment and be able to solve problems.
Mastery does not happen by chance. If you want to fulfil your potential, you must practice consistently at a specific skill over a long time. But the top performers in any craft also figure out a way to fall in love with boredom or monotony that comes from putting in the hours and doing the work.
Whenever people share the stories of successful people, they often omit how top performers fall in love with boredom while trying to build a habit of what they should do.
There is little hope of falling in love with a habit you really hate. If you dislike exercising, but you know it's good for you, you have two options to fall in love with the repetitiveness of the routine:
Success is often found by practising the fundamentals that everyone knows they should be doing, but they find it too tedious or simple to practice regularly.
A blend of patience and consistency creates the ultimate advantage.
Patience decreases negative emotions and conditions like anxiety and depression. It also increases empathy, generosity and compassion.
Patience as a personality trait can be cultivated and modified.
Most of us have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response while we face a problem, obstacle or danger. Impatience is the ‘fight’ part of the same.
Our brains have a set of nervous tissue called the Amygdalae which is not nuanced enough to understand that all threats and dangers are not the same, not requiring the same (extreme) reaction. If one can bifurcate between true danger and less-serious threats, it is a good start to control your emotions.
We need to intercept the communication we do with ourselves and listen with an awareness of what we tell ourselves about a crisis situation.
If we are able to address this problem with awareness and interrupt the stress-response cycle, then we are free of the reactive ‘fight or flight’ mode.
Example: If waiting in a line is bothering you, be aware of this and tell yourself that this is essential and just a matter of a few minutes.
When faced with a bothersome situation, use the technique known as the cognitive reappraisal and reframe the unpleasantness of the circumstances with a larger sense of integrity and background, recalling how you may also have done the same in the past, or how this is helping you grow as a human being. _
Being integrated and poised makes you a zen-like figure while others who get annoyed reflexively seem like mere mortals._
Mere trying does not cut the cake of patience, and just like a marathon, one has to cultivate it with a plan, not expecting immediate positive outcomes.
One has to develop this skill with time and consistency, just like a muscle.
One can game the system and not be in situations where there could be a fight or flight response. If you hate rush-hour traffic, avoid it with a vengeance. If you don’t like waiting in a waiting room play your favourite game on your smartphone during that time.
It is also a great idea to cut down on your coffee, and practice meditation and other relaxation techniques.
It is good to have achievable targets and not to overbook or overschedule your day in such a way that everything feels annoying, as that can lead to self-sabotage.
If a small inconvenience can make you aggravated, don’t have too much on your plate in the first place.
A team of neuroscientists believes there might be a meaningful link between creativity and seeing faces in clouds.
The scientific term for seeing familiar objects in random images, abstract things, or patterns is 'pareidolia.' Pareidolia has been reported in sounds too.
At first, pareidolia (seeing shapes in clouds and in other inanimate objects) was seen negatively rather than a sign of creativity. It was even considered to be a symptom of psychosis or dementia.
In 1895, French psychologist Alfred Binet - known for his work on IQ tests - suggested that inkblots could be used in psychological research to study differences in involuntary imagination. This idea was further developed, resulting in inkblots to investigate people's personality and assess their psychological state.
The creative aspect of pareidolia became known in the 19th century with the practice of 'klecksography' - the art of making images from inkblots.
Writer Victor Hugo experimented with folded papers and stains by holding his quill upside down to use the feather-end as a brush. Another practitioner of klecksography, German poet Justinus Andreas Christian Kerner, published Kleksographien (1890), a collection of inkblot art with accompanying short poems about the objects that can be noticed in the images.
In 2000, British psychologist Richard Gregory renewed the association between pareidolia and creativity. He suggested that a reversed version of the Rorschach test - the psychological test where subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and analyzed - might reveal creativity principles.
Recent studies found an association between a greater fluency and originality of performance in standard creativity tests and greater fluency and originality of pareidolias. Participants with a stronger interest in arts and music produced more original pareidolic drawings. This suggests that creative processes are involved in producing pareidolias.