Day 642: Motivation in the Age of Reason

I will continue with my trend on motivation and willpower in this post and once again base my post on a TED Talk by Dan Ariely. Basically what he discusses is the findings that indicate that people find much more value in the things that they worked hard on - even to the degree that the more difficult the task was, the more they will value the end product, even if the end product does not look or work as it is supposed to. This flies in the face of the belief that is so widely held at the moment: that a high salary can give an employee an experience of high value, as well as that the efficiency model (see the link above) is the best way to maximise production. In fact, according to Dan, the efficiency model is actually decreasing productivity in this day and age of knowledge and information.

Value is essentially subjective - we create the value of something according to our perception of it. So what tends to happen is that the more time and effort we put into something, the more we value and cherish the finished product. Most of the time, part of the appeal of a thing comes in when that thing belongs to us (I love it because it's mine!). This can be seen in the very basic example that people generally do not love some unfamiliar child with whom they have no ties nearly as much as they love their own child. This basic occurrence can be seen in everything in this world, in every part of our lives. The funny thing is that a lot of the time we expect other people to value things exactly as much as we do. This expectation obviously does not come from the understanding that our values are all objective and that another person cannot have the same values as we do - it comes from a more self-absorbed and almost innocent/naive place, where we simply do not consider the entirety of ourselves in a situation, nor do we consider the entirely of the other person's life and inner experience. You could say that we're somewhat deluded in our belief that other people should be just like us. We are deluded because if you take a moment to pause and think about this you will realise that there is no way that this is possible - each person has different experiences in life and is unique in that sense, so no 2 people can be exactly 100% 'the same'.

Basically, the higher we value something, the more motivated we become. So  what happens when we are doing something that we feel is not worth the time and effort we're putting in? We do not feel motivated about it. We feel like there is no point to what we're doing.

We also feel like our time was well spent if we are encouraged or acknowledged for our actions. This little fact indicates that most people function on pattern of needing outside forces to validate them in order to experience value in the things they do. This is a cycle of dependency that, like all dependencies, holds us back and specifically keeps us from embracing our own creative power to move and create ourselves and whatever else we may want to do in the world around us.

The solution to all of these points is as follows: Let go of the ideas and subjective values you have gathered in your life. This does not make you a person who no longer cares - it sets you free from the ties that bind you and keep you stuck forever in in holding on to intangible feelings that you have connected to specific objects or achievements. It gives you the opportunity to create meaningful and real connections with real things in the world, with real people, not just with memories and the feelings that they carry.