There are days, weeks and sometimes even months
where your desire to do something productive is barely existent. Theres a possibility that you’re having
a depression episode, but most likely you aren’t, because you’re not sad, you’re
just not feeling compelled enough to get up and do stuff, stuff that maybe not today,
but surely in the future will contribute to a better life for you, or maybe even for your
family and society. And to properly understand the reasons and
solutions to this problem, we need to have a better understanding of the underlying processes
that are taking place when we talk about motivation. If you’re hungry that’s not just a simple
drive that’s pushing you to get something to eat, it’s more of a subpersonality that
has a goal, it has a bunch of action patterns related to that particular goal, and it organizes
your emotional responses around that goal. We can look at it from another perspective. We could say that motivation set goals, and
emotions track progress towards goals. Generally speaking motivation determines what
your aim is, so if you are thirsty you are going to aim at something to drink, and that
will automatically alter your perception so you zero out everything that is not relevant
to that goal. Once you start to focus on the few things
that will guide you forward, your emotions start to track your progress, so when you
encounter those things that facilitate your movement forward, that produces positive emotions. On the other hand when you encounter some
kind of threat, or blockage between you and your goal, that produces negative emotions,
and that can be anger, disappointment, grief and so on. And if you experience some of the more powerful
negative emotions like pain for example, that can cause you to abandon your goal and turn
back. So why
is it so hard to get up and do stuff. And it might be that you just don’t have
any goals, it might be that you’re aiming at nothing. So no aim, equals no emotions, which equals
no neurochemical fuel to keep you going. Your case might not be exactly the same, but
it is a pretty accurate scenario. And you might ask, how do you fix that? Well you need to sit down and set your goals. See, If you observe a starving rat in cage
and it knows it has food at the end of a corridor, if you put a little spring attached to his
tail, you can measure the rats motivation by measuring how hard the rat pulls, you can
measure the displacement of the little spring, and that will give you a quantization of the
motivational force of the rat. What’s more interesting is, if you set up
the same scenario with the rat trying to get to some food and you spray some cat odor behind
it, the starving rat would pull even harder, because it it starving and he really wants
to get the hell away from there. So getting away and and getting somewhere
are two distinct motivational systems, and if you can combine them together then you
can make a really powerful motivational force. And you can start by sitting down and writing
your perfect future, and also the possible hell you want to avoid. Let’s say for example you’re not motivated
to work out. You can start by imagining how perfect and
healthy your body would be if you only started to work out for 30 minutes a day, you can
then imagine the clothes fitting you perfectly, your posture, your health, stamina etc. You can write everything down, you can write
about the positive mood and outlook on life you adopted since you started to work out. Then imagine the opposite, imagine you being
overweight, your IQ dropped because you didn’t exercise or had optimal body weight, so naturally
your IQ decreased as you aged. Imagine going to the doctor and he’s telling
you that you have an increased chance of heart attack. Imagine feeling anxious and depressed, without
any self confidence or motivation, stuck being overweight forever. And that’s a pretty terrifying future as far
as I can tell. Then once you do this, you can sit down and
negotiate with yourself. You can ask yourself, what would you want
in return if you would work out for 30 minutes a day for the next week. That can be a walk in the park, a beer with
your friends, playing video games like whatever gets you excited, and then agree on that contract
with yourself. This reward, combined with the visualization
of the ideal future and possible hell, is going to produce a high level of motivation
and drive to get you started on fixing the dimensions of your life that need to be fixed. Now, you have the knowledge, you know how
emotions and goals contribute to your motivation, you know techniques to combine two distinct
motivational systems, and you know that you need to negotiate instead of punishing or
tyrannizing yourself. So my advice is, do the visualisation, write
your goals, get up do stuff. Because If we all get our act together collectively,
then maybe we can make this world just a little bit better for all of us.