Are you making yourself miserable?
Sounds like a stupid question, but what if the answer is yes?
After hurting myself in the gym (I was listening to good music and got a bit too enthusiastic about things) I’m been thinking about motivation and why we do things.
Nobody does anything without a reason to do so, without motivation to get off their butts and do it.
The teenager who won’t clean the bedroom until there are friends coming over.
The wife who doesn’t go to the gym until after she’s gotten fat.
Ivan Throne got meningitis and became deaf at 4. He had to learn to walk again from scratch.
Tony Robbins was the first man in his family to qualify to become a truck driver.
Mike Rashid was homeless, now owns 7 (I think) international businesses
Elliott Hulse had $90 000 of debt, a wife and several kids, and built a YouTube empire from sheer effort (and lots of audiobooks).
James Altucher nothing to millionaire (several times).
The motivation for doing something comes in 2 flavours. And your flavour of motivation can have a big impact on you.
Healthy motivation vs unhealthy motivation
Are you going to the gym because you want to be stronger, faster? Or are you going because you don’t want to look fat any more?
Are you doing what you’re doing because you’re out to gain a something positive in your life? Or are you acting to avoid a negative?
My personal example comes during sprints and housework.
When I’m sprinting, and I’m knackered (that means tired, exhausted), but I want to do 1 more, I play a scenario in my head where I have to sprint to save a family member’s life. And then I end up going faster and harder for longer than I would otherwise.
I also often get injured round about now too.
I call this negative motivation.
When I’m doing stuff around the house, I do it for 1 of 2 reasons. Either I’m thinking “if I don’t do this, the wife will nag”, or I’m thinking that fixing the lock on the front door will be a good way to be a better man.
I call that second way positive motivation.
Guess which one’s more healthy.
They’re both just tools
There’s nothing “bad” about using negative motivation. It’s like booze or medicine. Using it too much can harm. But not using it if you need it can also harm.
Until the sub-conconscious becomes conscious it will control your life and you will call it fate.
– Carl Jung
If you use negative motivation exclusively, then you’re filling your thoughts with negativity all day, every day. Buddha was right when he said what you think, you become. You will become an unhealthily negative person. You will find an amazing ability to make every experience negative. The most beautiful sunset becomes “great, now it’s going to get cold”.
You should take notice of the things you say to yourself in your head, your inner dialogue. And you should strive to kill the negative thoughts as much as possible
When I’m cleaning the gutters, take out the trash and mow the lawn, I’ve avoided getting nagged, but I’ve traded getting nagged for 2 minutes for spending hours thinking about getting nagged. I’ve made myself miserable.
I’d much rather do the man’s chores with my chest out and my head held high and stick my hands in the disgusting mess of worms and decomposing crap in the gutters because that’s what a man does, and I’m a man.
Making myself proud to do the crappy chores because I’m a man fills my head with the positive thought of “I’m a man” (with a suitable soundtrack). And this has proven much more healthy for me over the past couple years.
But negative motivation has a use. Think of all those stories about mothers lifting cars off their children. People doing desperate, stupid things to save a family member. That’s negative motivation in its element.
Some of the “best” rags-to-riches stories I’ve heard weren’t glamorous, it was someone in deep shit who had to work their butts off every single day, for a long time, until they clawed and crawled their way out of the shit. Getting out of the shit improved their lives a lot more than using negative motivation dragged them down. But once they were coming out of it, they all seemed to make the switch to positive motivation.
James Altucher, if you’ve read his life story, you’ll notice he used negative motivation to crawl out of bankruptcy, and build his life and wealth back up. But then he doesn’t make the switch to positive motivation (which he writes very honestly about), and then he ends up losing everything and having to start all over again.
If the thought of losing something that important to you helps you to save it (or them), if it gives you the strength for one last effort that makes the difference, then that “negative motivation” has served its purpose.
But if you over-use it, using it when it doesn’t make the difference, then you’ve sabotaged your happiness.