Real motivation is like inspiration: being pulled into doing something, instead of being pushed into efforting and trying and all the horizontal plane feelings: having to, needing to, wanting to, and should. These are not present when you are motivated: you are just doing what you are doing because it’s fun, because it is interesting, because it is there to do… for its own sake.
Inspire, the word, has the spirit as its root… because it is the spirit that does the pulling, the real motivation… The spirit only wants that there be flying… and when you are inspired, you are the one doing the flying.
When you look around, when you look at people, you see them dividing life to fun and work… The things they feel like doing (motivation) and the things they have to do (obligation, duty).
A team of behavioral psychologists 1 did experiments with students to see, in essence, how to KILL this innate curiosity, this innate drive to do things.
They have found that the number one killer of joy, innate drive, innate curiosity is reward offered.
One group was offered a reward, another one wasn’t. The reward group went home as soon as the clock told them the hour was through. The other group, the no reward group stayed over and continued the activity, because they felt like it.
Their reward, not offered, was the joy of doing. The work they were doing was puzzles… Who doesn’t like to solve puzzles!
But a pay, and even winning, even praise, remove that reward and replaces it with something you need to earn… and the joy is gone.
This is why the advice: do what you love for a living… type of advice is backwards. Every single thing you love to do becomes a drag when you have to do it for money. Or fame. Or fortune.
Humans are built this way. Getting paid for what we like to do, what we’d pay to be allowed to do, destroys the joy.
When motivational speakers ask you to find your “why” they teach you to kill your joy, kill your inspiration, kill your innate motivation.
Society doesn’t want you to have fun. Society doesn’t want you to enjoy what you do.
Society wants you to be miserable and dutiful.
Extremely sexual women turn into reluctant wives, because sex is often considered your duty in marriage.
I have noticed this on myself, decades ago… not the sex thing, lol… the whole demotivational effect of getting paid for work.
So what I did is: I artificially separated the money and the work. I severed the obvious connection. 2
And little by little I snuck the pleasure back into my work.
I have started to look at becoming grateful for getting the opportunity to do the things I would have loved to do for free…
I wonder what would happen to my incredibly strong drive to write articles, if I got paid per article! Ugh!
You can ask why we are wired this way, but I have no answer for that.
A powerful person relates to reality as it is, and adjusts their actions to how it is, instead of wishing reality to be different. If this is how it works, then this is what we’ll work with.
So what can you do to make your life more integrated, to have a seamless life? To not have the division between fun and work?
If you manage to see that it is coming from the outside, and you are just saying the words as if they were yours, then you’ll start experimenting.
Because all emotions, including the emotions underlying motivation, are marker feelings… meanings and feelings triggered by words, by language, you’ll notice that once the having to… etc. disappears, you are able to feel freer, deeper, and you’ll be able to see wider… maybe even move your eyes and your head… you’ll come out of zombie mode.
You can be expansive when doing something, or you can be shrinking.
And your eyes, your breath, your self go the same way.
When you have serious fun, the kind of fun you innately crave (not the teenage “let’s have fun! type of fun, that is all to escape reality and yourself!), you are naturally expansive.
You don’t have to, instead, you get to do things. Because they feel right. Because something inside you wants to do it.
- Motive, motivate, motivated… these words come from the same root as Motion… moving.
- Ayn Rand uses the word Motive Power.
- Your legs are your motive power when you walk.
- Your vehicle uses internal combustion as its motive power.
It is quite a mystery what motivates someone… that spark, that inner drive, the spark motivational speakers want you to recapture, the spark parents want to kick into gear by offering you bribes to do chores or your homework, that you think of when you try to make me proud, or want me to praise you, or give you a gold star.
But that inner mystery that every living thing has doesn’t respond well to bribes, or outward rewards. On the contrary, it gets extinguished by it.
When it works, undisturbed, unmitigated, un-forced, unspoiled, it responds to inner curiosity, and your need to fulfill your inner drives, to explore, to build, to invent…
Margoczi doesn’t talk about this drive. It is very close to the need to fulfill your expectations of yourself, but it is not the same. It is, I feel, is underneath of that need, the basis of it, the fire in your belly, so to say.
Dogs catching balls, jumping higher and higher, this “motive power” is driving it.
Or the clerk in the patent office who reads the inventions and allows his imagination run away with him and invent the Theory of Relativity… not for money, not for fame, but because he can.
We all have this spark, some more than others.
The individuals who move life forward, have it in spades… I am one of these “eager beaver” individuals… ones you love to hate… or envy.
I have a student who obviously had this secret fire in him, judging from some of his earlier actions, but by the time he got to me, he was dutiful, and he was dreaming about piles of money, instead of feeding his inner fire and acting from it.
When you have an outside focus, a to HAVE to motivate you, none of your results make you feel that need, none of your results really feed that fire… and you feel hollow inside. 3
And he felt hollow. And life felt like drudgery. And a have to…
I have to admit, it took a long time for me to dig for the fire… when someone tells you they want a business… it is very easy to say, OK… let’s make a business…
But that is not what he wanted, at the root level, at the seed level he wanted to feed that fire that is Life.
The desire for business success, money acted as a dampening agent… and the fire could not burn at high enough temperature.
The desire made him look at the result instead of enjoying the process: feeling himself doing what doing business is.
So we had a Juice session. In the Juice session there is only one job: to find the source of that fire. For me the source of the fire is the need to feel significant through discovery and the sharing of it. Living on the edge (where few people can keep their eyes open) seeing distinctions of reality… and come back and share it with others. Sharing it with words.
- When I was an architect, there was discovery, but there were no words… and I felt like a desiccated shell of a person.
- As a magazine publisher I had moments, but moments don’t do it for a person with the fire.
- I found my place more fully (50%) in doing the work I am doing now…
Why only 50%? Because you are only marginally interested in what I discover, so the echo is sporadic.
- I am most alive while I write my articles… I talk to an imaginary person who gets it. But not only gets it, but wants more of it. So it’s very fulfilling.
The second most alive moments are when I coach… I pick and choose who I coach, because I want that echo, crave that echo, the echo is like a wind that feeds the fire. Synergy feeds the fire. Co-creation feeds the fire.
Returning to my student’s Juice session, he claimed that using his imagination, creativity is what gives him juice.
We tested it and he came alive. Suddenly the dutiful, homework attitude was gone from many of his actions. And I started to provide him more and more opportunities to exercise that creativity, that imagination… and provided recipients for it.
From our, his and my example you can see that there probably always is a component of being seen, being heard, having a recipient to the gift of the fire.
My hunch is that had they refused to publish Einstein’s paper, his fire would have started to die.
Rare is the person who can write book after book, not accepted for publication, who can maintain the fire…
OK, one more thing about the creative process, the inner fire.
It’s a lot like sex: it has a painful aspect. The tension. It’s energetic. And the higher your fire can burn, the stronger the tension is.
Your TLB, Twitchy Little Bastard score predicts how much tension you can deal with, how much tension you can bear.
The less tension you can bear, the faster you’ll move sideways, out of the way of the tension, and the less fulfilling your work becomes, the less your inner motivation will drive you.
You’ll refrain from sex, or you’ll be a premature ejaculator… a little here and a little there.
You can train yourself to bear more tension, by the way. I have. Little by precious little.
But even with the training, I still do things to reduce the tension… my favored ways are grazing, or drinking some hot beverage…
Now that it’s conscious, I will practice foregoing the tiny releases.
Let me summarize this article for you:
We are all born with more or less fire in our belly to do activities where the reward is the activity itself.
But society: starting with your parents, have dampened and maybe even extinguished that fire by offering you rewards or punishments to motivate you from the outside.
The level of fulfillment you’ll experience in an activity will depend on that fire.
It is said that a well-done job is its own reward, and that is true if the fire got engaged in doing the job.
In my experience there are certain activities that make the fire burn brightly, but that fire can be brought to nearly any activities where the activity, the how of it, becomes a self-expression.
Each person wants to feel unique, special, and the vehicle to feel that way is self-expression. Activity that allows the self to be expressed and shine.
Society is not interested in self-expression. Society is interested in you being a cog in the machine. And by society I mean any and all human groupings, even intimate relationships.
Do society will offer you rewards and punishments to remove your inner fire and replace it with a carrot or a stick.
When you are “motivated” by a carrot or a stick, you are not your own person and you feel it. Your sense of self, self-determination, free choice is gone, and you feel like a slave.
The carrot can be money, and the carrot can be acknowledgment, praise, “love”, or any of the usual stuff, liking, being taken care of, a smile… stuff.
These are the booby prizes, the consolation prizes you get for allowing them to kill your real prize: a brightly burning fire of self-expression.
It takes courage to do what the inner fire wants you to do, and to refuse both the carrot and the stick.
It really starts to become easier once you raise your vibration to 200.
Since my student had his Juice session, he increased the number of his active spiritual capacities to 10, and his vibration to 200.
I didn’t ask, but by his gushing gratitude and enthusiasm his life satisfaction went from zero to 60%. That is very high. Mine is 70%.
The average life satisfaction on the planet is 3%.
Like with everything I teach, the most important steps have been removing attitudes and actions that dampened that fire.
- Edward Deci et al
- The most important element of this move was to eliminate piecework, trading time for a money.
This way of looking at money was a little tricky when I was doing massages, but I managed. So I never looked at a client and the money they paid. Even when I got tips (massage clients like to tip) it was not associated with the client or what I did, it went, in my mind, to the business. The business got paid.
The fuller this separation becomes, the easier it is to remove the “reward” mentality, the reason, the purpose, the wanting… and maintain a service and creativity context, inside which I am blessed that I get paid for what I would do anyway, paid or not paid.
This is the real meaning of the principle by which I live:
I never do anything for money that I wouldn’t do for free.
- Money, experience, feeling, relationship, notoriety, etc.