Day 55… The Motivation Experiment…

Today I’m going to experiment on myself. Yesterday I talked about the factors of how, when we’re motivated solely by pain how we can readily fail as the pain subsides and we return to old habits. The solution to this is creating a daily vision of not only pain, but pleasure. This is the foundation for a successful/fulfilling life because it keeps us moving toward change through uncertainty that would normally stop us short.

As I’ve said, as we move away from pain, the thing driving us fades, leaving us prone to failure. The core of change is that we must, without question, have a reason for our change. We need some purpose that drives us to fight the normal efficiency structures of the brain, which want us to keep doing things as we have in the past. So, to keep the motivation on, we must above all else recreate our perceived pain for taking on a certain path on a daily basis. Yet, we must also create something else… joy. We have to be drawn into the new because we perceive it as being far better than the current way.

Now, remember, your brain is sitting locked away in a skull and it really doesn’t often interact with the physical world, unless you get a concussion. It relies on electrical impulses from ears, eyes, nose, skin, to tell it what’s going on. It receives these electrical impulses and then interprets them into ‘reality’. Again, this could be the topic for several books alone. Today though, it’s important to understand that our brains are really bad at this interpretation of reality. We filter and modify and change the world based on our beliefs, state of mind, health, etc. One thing the brain isn’t good at, and we can use this to our advantage, is that it’s not good at differentiating what’s real and what’s imagined. This is how people get themselves all worked up over things that perhaps didn’t even happen, or happened years ago.

So… if I imagine that I just shot a free throw, if I take the time to really make it detailed, and I focus on the vision of it, the feel of the ball, the sound of the gym, the squeak of my shoes as I step up to the free throw line, the smell of my freshly washed clothes, the coolness of the air. Then, I take my shot and watch the ball arc through the air, slowly rotating backwards, and then ‘CHOCK’ it catches only the net. Perfection. Now my brain doesn’t actually know it didn’t take the shot. This has been shown in several different neuroscience studies. Rationally we know we didn’t take the shot, but at the more instinctual level, the brain just had an experience that it tucks away as real.

So, when we envision ourselves failing and succeeding, our brain takes those visions as real. When we see the failure, we will find fresh motivation to move away from those things that cause the failure. When we see the success, the good feelings we associate will cause us to want to move toward that future vision. The more detailed the vision, the more we’ll find motivation to do it.

So… the experiment… This morning I made it to the gym at 5:10. I had to do a bit of arguing to get up on time, but I got there. After that though, I came home and fell into an empty feeling. I have all the time I need today to get all my goals done, writing, hair cut, etc., but I just felt like sitting in my bean bag chair and feeling sorry for myself, so I’m going to do the key visualizations designed to build motivation. Then, I’ll check back in and see what it’s done for my state of mind…

…back soon…

Holy Hell. The impact of the exercise was PROFOUND. The sense of emptiness is COMPLETELY gone. I feel like I could tear a hole in a concrete wall with my bare hands. It isn’t that I feel I could climb the barriers… it’s that the barriers look like little curbs now, and I’m driving a monster truck. I cannot describe how profound this shift was.

(Note that I wrote this a few days ago, but got caught up in work and my son, so haven’t posted it until now. Since that time, I’ve had this same experience twice more. This visualization exercise is amazing. But will it create actual results? Well… it’s worked for me before, but we’ll let the next 310 days illustrate the impact…)

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