Updated: Feb 17
Motivation comes from intention, and the strength of an intention depends on its significance. Intention is what carries the idea to completion, to manifestation. Motivation can become a point of stumbling when there is something ingenuine in our intention. An intention arising out of a conditioned want, needing to appear a certain way for someone or something else. In gaining control of intention and henceforth motivation, it is important to have self-knowledge. Many of the things that have sapped motivation and diminished it come from all that is put upon people at a young age. We are expected to go to school with the majority of our time as kids, following that homework and whatever else the parents would have us do. This is different from how kids were raised in a simpler time, where their efforts were one with their family and communities, and understood in that context. Nowadays education is largely preparatory, to give a good chance for the kids future, refining from the vague and open ended down to a specific line of work. The constancy of the system humans have created overshadows our natural existence.
Not knowing the importance or value of why one does something, motivation is often extrinsic, dependent on a reward of some external form. Especially in the modern world where many are not in immediate danger and are provided for in their physical needs. With those taken care of, ambition can be pursued. Intrinsic motivation is different, as it is motivation completely for and from ourselves as individuals. Since individuation is a continual process, all motivations and intentions proceed from a self yet to be completed, yet some will move us closer and closer to wholeness and our real intrinsic motivation than others. When one finds motivation dead it is likely caused by existing in a cyclical fashion that is unrewarding. Everything is done for someone else, for some other contingency than our true passion. I believe that true passion is pointing to the soul, a supreme reason for the person coming into being; the truth, the medicine, is always in you. Once one has a projection of that goal, how can they stay motivated?
For some people the route of strict discipline may work, becoming an enforcer of the higher will upon the animal vessel. An attitude of “never good enough” constantly propelling one to excel and strive. This may be the supreme character one wishes to embody, at the same time it can be a grueling ordeal to put oneself through. An approach that meets the person where they are at and compliments them is more likely to have a lasting impact. Some people will get being told to “man up”, other people will find it offensive. The best way to get started is to lessen the load, are you safe? Healthy? Stop ambition at once, it is driving towards death. Do something small, meaningful, and easy first. Get the most out of the least possible. Attachments are only causing suffering. In order to make use of the Dao in our goals, one has to base their actions and resemblance on it. To take advantage of the principle of Wu Wei (Effortless action), one has to stop using effort in order to arrive at the plan spontaneously arriving for you. Quicken your body, mind, and spirit to stillness, rather than hastening to the destruction of everything.
“Tao abides in non-action, Yet nothing is left undone.” Dao De Jing, Ch 37
“A tree as great as a man's embrace springs from a small shoot; A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth; A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.” Dao De Jing, Ch 67
“How marvelous the Creator is! What is he going to make of you next? Where is he going to send you? Will he make you into a rat's liver? Will he make you into a bug's arm?” Zhuangzi, Ch 6
Zhuangzi, quoted above is considered by many the second great work of Daoism following Laozi's Dao De Jing. He emphasized the philosophy of acceptance, that one is bound to their fate in the Yin Yang, that these spiritual parents are always fashioning us as we should be. In this ending of human intention and intervening one can return to the root of life and reconsider what one should really spend effort pursuing. It is likely we cannot simply opt out or drop off the responsibilities and duties we already have, to our employers, our country, and our religion. To regain motivation in these areas one might try observing holistically, how the actions they take wherever they may be placed are part of a whole that is subjectively meaningful. As a dishwasher I remind myself of the meals that people got to enjoy, of the work I'm saving others from having to do. One is only as bound to something as they have attachments to its outcome! It is from hopelessness and depression our motivation is killed, that the actions we take do not matter, or are irrelevant. I cannot disprove this, but there is no use in this worldview.
1 Corinthians 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
When we get to the point of succeeding, and persevering, there are more obstacles that one will encounter. Despite it all we may still feel ourselves lacking, as needing to constantly keep adding weight and get stronger. Or it may feel like part of you has died or become unacknowledged. That success and ambitions are covering up the humility one came in with. Actually this means you're getting to the fun part, where you are truly a master of your own life, free to increase or decrease pressure. While it is never good enough, it has always been good enough. There will always be stumbling and failure on the road, strength comes from continuing, not from reaching the goal, when the goal is reached its over, thus the journey is the true longevity of the Way. Better to continue slowly than to give up, to move at a pace in sync with ones inner nature and the nature of the Way. In Daoism this is called balancing firmness and flexibility. It is like tailoring a suit that only fits you, taking off all the ones you don't want to wear, make one that really shows off your form! Take the highs and the lows, the swings and the blows, the Yin and Yang. All that fails leads to eventual success. Always be ready to forgive and look favorably on what has already passed, it will keep you on the path.
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” -Stephen Mccranie http://www.wussu.com/laotzu/laotzu37.html http://www.wussu.com/laotzu/laotzu64.html https://terebess.hu/english/chuangtzu.html https://biblehub.com/kjv/1_corinthians/7.htm