For me, an “issue” is a subject that comes up with some frequency on my radio program. And lately, many callers (dealing with a range of concerns from being overweight to being affectionate to finishing school to exercise and more) have phoned wondering where to find “perpetual” motivation. I know there are audio tape courses, blogs, and books galore on attaining and maintaining motivation, but I believe that is a hopeless quest. Why? Because human beings have moods and circumstances that interfere. It is impossible to feel motivated all the time about anything – even things you actually love to do.
There are days you wake up tired; there are days you are distracted by work, plumbing, relatives; there are days during which minor or significant disasters occur (like the backing up of a toilet); there are those days during which you become reasonably upset by someone or something. You get the picture. Life happens and it impacts your moods and feelings. Unfortunately, our culture has become enamored of “feelings” over responsibility, discipline, obligations, and common good sense. We have come to revere feelings as the grand dictator of reality: if you “feel” it, it makes it so. If you “feel” your mother-in-law harbors negative thoughts, then you can retaliate, for example.
This is why I stop people dead in their tracks so often with “I didn’t ask you about your “feelings.” I asked you about what actually occurred.” We can talk about how you interpret what happened; we can talk about your ancient feelings and how they impact how you respond to today’s reality, but first, what actually happened??
Feelings are not rational – they have no IQ, and they are self-oriented, as they serve only the self without taking even the “feelings” of other people into account. Feelings are primitive, and using them as the pivotal point for your reactions to the world is quite childlike. It takes the maturity of evolving adulthood to temper feelings with the necessity of examining the world and others in it while being less emotional — sometimes, even bordering on dispassionate as you use your rational mind to assess the situation more concretely.
So, back to motivation. One doesn’t have to feel like “it” to “do it.” Having some hang-ups about being affectionate with your spouse because of unpleasant childhood experiences is totally self-centered and ultimately irrational since, unless you married that parent (literally or figuratively), your current spouse is being punished for the misdeeds of the prior generation. And you are continuing the pain of your childhood all the way into your grave. What is the answer? It actually is quite simple: do what is right, do what is healthy, do what is loving, do what is smart, and do what is compassionate. That means show affection, even though you aren’t motivated. Exercise every day, even though you don’t feel like it. Clean your house, even though you don’t feel like it. Do someone a difficult favor, even though you don’t feel like it.
To operate by feelings instead of compassion, discipline and responsibility is to abdicate being an adult. It also makes you a slave to irrational, often self-defeating emotions, instead of the master of your destiny. You are more human when you operate from nobility. You are more adult when you operate from discipline.
So, dump the idea of “motivation,” and replace it with discipline and nobility, and then see how you feel!