You have 100% control over yourself and your own willpower:
An attempt to understand how to motivate yourself
Some turbo thoughts on how to get you moving, doing, acting more, creating more in life!
I’ve been in deep contemplation mode — thinking about depression, nihilism, apathy, or other mental and physiological maladies which discourage us from doing, moving, acting, and living.
Let me attempt to make some sense of all of this.
First and foremost, what is the exact opposite of being motivated?
To be “motivated” literally means to move. If you delight in moving, and you move a lot — you’re “motivated”.
The opposite of moving is to retrogress. Or in a more basic term — to be immobile is a symptom of being depressed. It means not wanting to get out of bed, it means not wanting to leave the house, and not wanting to do anything.
Now — why do we feel this way?
- We feel that all of our actions won’t make an impact, thus it is a waste of time and energy to do anything.
- Perhaps we don’t really have anyone else we care for, thus — we lose our love of humanity and our fellow humans. Thus, we don’t have a reason to leave the house, because there is nobody “worth” interacting with.
- We have been afflicted with “learned helplessness”— we have been shocked and tamed by authority figures in our lives, thus — we have learned to become helpless. We lose our instincts, our desire, or our will to enact change in our life or do anything — because once again, the notion that no matter how hard we work, it won’t make a difference anyways.
Why do we get depressed?
This is a puzzling question to me:
Why do we get depressed?
What causes depression? What is the ROOT of depression?
I don’t want to invoke any moralistic acid here. I am purely interested in the physiological causes of depression, and lack of motivation.
1. No more necessity to walk and move:
Consider, one of the chief reasons why we have a brain is in order to walk, move, and procure food. If we no longer need to move, we don’t need a brain anymore. Thus, my theory is that once we no longer need to move– our brain starts to degrade and perhaps retrogress, which causes mental degradation. And this mental degradation leads to symptoms which manifest themselves as ‘depression’.
So perhaps the biggest issue is that we no longer walk, or NEED to walk. As a hypothesis I’m curious: If you took a person who felt depressed, and literally forced them to walk for at least 2 hours a day, wouldn’t they feel less "depressed"?
2. Why do we feel more depressed during winter months?
This is also interesting, because I think during winter months one of the causes of depression is that because it is so cold outside, people walk and move less!
Thus in addition to the lack of sunlight, perhaps the cause of depression in winter months is the lack of movement and walking. So perhaps the solution is to figure out how we can walk at least 1-2 hours a day.
Ideas: Walking at the gym, finding indoor structures (mall) to walk, or forcing ourselves to do ‘standing desks’ at work (preventing ourselves from being sedentary; which is one of the biggest causes of chronic pain in modern society).
3. Lack of reason or purpose to be alive
For a man who has a why in life, can discover almost any how – Nietzsche
This is a bit related to the notion of ‘nihilism’ (that there is no point of being alive).
If you know your "WHY" in life (why you are alive; why you want to live)– figuring out HOW to do it will take care of itself.
This is what I personally believe:
There is no ultimate reason why we are alive. You must dictate your own self-direction in life.
Which means, only you should dictate your own purpose in life, your own goals in life, and your own motives in life.
Once again, I want to really drill this in:
There are no ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ goals in life.
A lot of people often try to ‘virtue signal’ by saying to others:
"Only I have the supreme virtuous activity in life; your goals, motives, and reasons to be alive are petty compared to mine."
What is your personal reason to be alive? What do you want to do in your life, or achieve in your life before you die? Only you can decide.
But once you decide your epic purpose or motive in life, it is easy to ‘motivate’ yourself to work hard, because you believe in your personal passion that deeply.
For example for me, my personal motive in life is to make myself the most powerful me possible in order to help others develop themselves to their personal zenith. Because I know my motive clearly; I optimize my life to create the ideal conditions in order to achieve my goals. Focus on my physical strength, my mental strength, and insane focus on my creative work.
Practical ideas on how to motivate yourself
To side-step a bit, I want to talk a little bit about HOW we can be more motivated:
1. We need greater challenges
I think all of us humans inherently desire greater challenges for ourselves, in order to test our strength! We want obstacles to overcome, and we want things which resist our strength.
For example, going to the gym is only fun BECAUSE I have an ardent desire to increase my strength. I have an insane amount of joy testing myself, testing my limits, and attempting to lift heavier weights! For example my current goal of deadlifting 500 pounds is a good motivator, and by setting a great challenge for myself, I am expediting my progress. And after I hit my 500 pound deadlift goal (I am 100% certain I can do this, it is just a matter of time and effort), then I will probably move onto a new life goal of a 600 pound deadlift (I want to one day deadlift 3x+ my own bodyweight). Weight lifting is also great, because it is 100% on you — you don’t need to depend on anyone else in order to become stronger.
The notion of a challenge is interesting– because it doesn’t just apply to physical challenges; it can also be mental challenges!
For myself, it means to dare deeper thoughts, to dare deeper and more profound ideas, and to seek difficult wisdom.
2. Realize it is all 100% your willpower
Willpower is a combination of physical strength and mental strength. And willpower is something that can be cultivated and augmented via your own effort, hustle, and hard work.
If you believe in yourself and your own willpower, and if you believe that willpower isn’t a limited resource (it is something you can augment and make greater), then the best way to motivate yourself is to WILL yourself to move more, to FORCE yourself to move more, to EXERT POWER over yourself!
Stimulants are good when they motivate us to move and act!
For myself, I allow myself to drink unlimited black coffee during the day. I think black coffee (no cream or sugar, or fillers), black tea, green tea, is good for us. A small dose of poison (caffeine) stimulates us.
Music motivates us to move as a stimulus. A good rule is to listen to music which gets you to dance! When you’re listening to music which stimulates your legs to move, this is good music.
Sunlight is a great stimulant. If you’re in cold weather without sun, perhaps see if you can find sun tanning salon, or ways to get some UV rays.
Icy cold showers is also a good stimulant. As a devoted cold water showerer the last 5 years, I can say the benefits have been phenomenal. I’m more awake, active, and stimulated after taking an icy cold shower in the morning. Also, taking an icy cold shower before I sleep helps me fall asleep.
Also the stimulation of being around other people. The stimulation of being at a coffee shop, surrounded by other people.
Any media, information, artwork which stimulates you to move, act or do is good.
I think the challenges of addressing motivation and depression is this:
Everyone thinks they’re talking about the same thing, but they’re not.
We all experience different physiological affects of emotion in vastly different ways. When I tell you I feel "depressed", what am I really trying to tell you? That I’m anxious? That I feel shitty? That I cannot get out of bed or the house? Or that I’m feeling pessimistic and gloomy? We should use more precision with our words.
Also with "motivation"; the industry for self help, motivational speaking, etc makes for the notion of motivation very convoluted.
Some basic takeaways:
- Let us assume you have infinite 100% motivation in your life. What would you even do with that power and energy?
- Perhaps the manifestations of depression are 90% physiological.
- You must first prioritize yourself, your own physical and mental health above everything and everyone else, before even attempting to help others.
- Seek ways to stimulate yourself in positive ways, in order to act more, create more, and do more!
- What is your ultimate aim in life, and how can you motivate yourself to achieve these aims?
Never stop challenging yourself, never stop challenging ideals of society, and always seek to understand yourself more profoundly and deeply.
BE BOLD. ERIC