Motivation: We all want it, crave it and hunt it. Motivation is an elusive creature that always seems just out of reach, except for a few invigorating moments when our fingers brush its electric hide.
But perhaps we’re chasing it too hard? Maybe, like happiness, we need to let motivation come to us where we are.
Recently, Ole Miss hosted a TEDx event. Many beautiful and fantastic ideas were passed along from the speakers to the audience. Much of what was said ended in a call to action of some kind or another.
It seems that such events, whether stated or not, are primarily aimed at motivating the hearer to do one thing or another. And that’s great, but it’s also flawed.
The flaw is that the motivation the world offers is external. External motivation, the kind we chase, can only last for so long.
Let’s use fear as an example. Imagine a bear, snake or clown, or if those aren’t scary enough, a bear-snake-clown-hybrid-thing, is chasing you.
Suddenly, you’re motivated to run. And run you will, because who can fight a bear-snake-clown-hybrid? However, once you’re out of harm’s way, you’ll stop running; and you probably wouldn’t take up running because of the fear you experienced on that day.
Now imagine that you love running because it gives you pleasure and helps you relax. It’s likely you’re going to run daily.
What’s the difference between fear and love? Fear is external, and love is internal. Once the fear is gone, you have no reason to run. It’s the same with all forms of external motivation. Stay away from the outer motivator long enough (whether through space, time or both) and its power over you wanes.
And if you go back to the source of the external motivator? It won’t give you the same level of hype it once did. Unless, of course, you’re being chased by a bear-snake-clown-hybrid – life and death situations tend to always give you the same level of temporary motivation.
Remember, for example, how motivated you probably were when you first watched Shia LaBeouf’s viral video, “Just Do It”? How did you feel after it was memed and you watched it for the umpteenth time? It’s unlikely you felt motivated at all.
The power external motivators have over you weakens with each subsequent experience due to the economic concept of “diminishing return” – the user gets marginally less from a good each time he uses it.
This economic law also applies to our human obsession with novelty. If it’s not new to us, it’s immediately less valuable to our brains. Hence, why Shia LaBeouf’s video descended from external motivation to memedom.
So, if we cannot gain real and lasting motivation from outside, then it must come from within. And this is where love plays a part. Often, we joke about how we love cake or a TV show. Usually, it is probably incorrect to use love in these contexts.
There is, however, some truth in saying we love certain things or actions. The love of running for example, or of enjoying excellent food, are deep passions that spring from within us. If you love running, you’ll continue to do it. If you love trying new foods, you’ll continuously be seeking them.
This is because love is an unlimited, infinitely renewable resource.
Internal motivation, or love, is the only true motivation we can have. It’s the only kind that lasts. So, for example, if you want to be motivated to be a better student, you shouldn’t watch a dozen YouTube videos encouraging you to “get out there and do it!” Instead, you should cultivate your passion for learning.
Nurture your enjoyment and love for what you want to be motivated in, and the motivation will naturally follow.
As the “theological” staff writer, I would be remiss not to bring up what the Bible has to say on this subject. Jesus, ever the philosopher, aptly points out that where your treasure is, there your heart is also.
Whatever you value, whatever you enjoy, whatever you love is what your heart will be motivated to pursue. For the Christian, seeing Jesus’ kingdom of love manifested here and now should be our foremost treasure, making love itself ironically the thing we love and are motivated to do.
However, this truth is good for anything you want to be motivated to pursue: make it your treasure, and the motivation will follow.
Tripp Bond is a sophomore history major from Meridian.