A friend of mine asked me if I could write about motivation. What keeps me motivated every day when I wake up. But my first question to them was, in terms of what? School, fitness, relationships? What do I think about in order for me to make the most out of every day and be as productive as can be? Truth is, it’s not easy. In fact, there are days where (and I know you know what I’m talking about) nothing is going your way and you can’t find it in you to do anything remotely productive.
The first thing I always remind myself of when I need some motivation, is the fact that right now at this point in my life, I am, happy, healthy and alive. The very fact that you have been blessed with another day on this beautiful earth should inspire you not to waste even a single moment of it. If, for some reason, that doesn’t do the trick, then, and this is a tricky thing to do, I look towards the future, and the things that I know await me if I were to make the most of the present. Now you have to be careful with this, because you don’t want to spend time pinning materialistic things that are to come, or even thinking that there is something missing in your life that you need to find. The happiness that you seek should somehow help enrich your life, but in some way, your soul as well. Your biggest motivation should be the little things that surround you in the present; your loved ones, your family and friends, your health, your humour, your education and your potential for greatness. But when these don’t do the trick, and I know we have those days when sometimes they don’t, my advice to anyone would be to always remember that good things come to those who wait and that no matter how low you may be in your life right now, if you remind yourself that happiness awaits you, then with that promise, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. We all know what it’s like to have those moments of pure, undiluted happiness, and if we promise ourselves that we can feel that happiness and contentment again after we’ve done something we’ve set ourselves to, then everything will flow from that.
Let me try and explain with some examples. You’re in school, you’re in the prime of your teens and you’re living your best life and having fun and you’re (for the most part) happy. Then there’s all the homework and exams and pressure and you want to pull your hair out because how on earth are you meant to keep yourself motivated? Well, I always used to tell myself that if I just put in the time I needed now to work, just think of how proud and happy I would be when I finally got the grades that I deserved to get me into the uni of my dreams. And I apply that same idea now in order to get me to study to get my degree. In order to keep yourself on the right track, you need to set yourself a plan and stick to it. Set yourself goals and reward yourself. I think everyone’s heard of a little thing called positive reinforcement. Do things that make you happy once you’ve completed something that took you a lot of energy to muster up the motivation to do. Go out to meet your friends, eat a slice of cake, watch an episode of your favourite tv show, whatever it is, motivate yourself with the idea of doing something that makes you happy, after completing the activity that doesn’t so much.
What about in relationships and with matters of the heart? Whether they be romantic or with friends. I read a quote the other day that said ‘the irony of loneliness is that we all feel it at the same time’ and that is so true. We are all dealing with so many things and trying to get through our problems that we forget that we aren’t alone, that there are people out there who love and support us and even sometimes more reassuringly, that there are people who are going through the exact same things we are. Unfortunately for us, bad things do happen and the only way we can keep ourselves motivated is to a) occupy our minds with things that make you… there’s that word again, happy! and b) to remind yourself that some things are removed from your life in order to make space for better things to come. If you’ve had your heart broken, or you’ve fallen out of love, remind yourself that you need to give yourself time, but that one day you will be happy again, and this time it’ll be even more beautiful.
How to make sure that you are truly happy? Don’t involve yourself in the pettier and less fulfilling things in life. Don’t gossip: it doesn’t get you anything except bad karma. If it doesn’t concern you, then turn the other way and don’t get involved. Don’t be overly dramatic, yes things happen in life and we sometimes can’t help but react and make it into a big deal but the things is, people argue, friends fight, lovers quarrel but give. it. time. and remember there are far more important things to be worrying about. Hang on to the knowledge that no matter how lonely you may feel, or how alone it may seem that you are, there are people who are there for you. People who you may not talk to every day, people who, for the moment, are only acquaintances. All you need to do is reach out to them with a kind word and there is no doubt that they will be kind back to you.
So I was going along my merry way thinking about what else I could share with you and then, just to show you how funny life can be, a few days after writing the first draft for this, I attended a talk by a motivation speaker that absolutely blew me away and had me giving him a standing ovation.
David Hodgson spoke about what he believes is necessary in order to have a happy life. Basically, a man after my own heart,. The talk wasn’t aimed at happiness in one particular area of life, but how to ensure that everything you do is helping you live your life to its fullest potential. He began by asking everyone to give their lives a score on a scale of one to ten, ten being a life that has been lived fearlessly and with no regrets, doing everything every day to make it productive and one being a life where opportunities have been passed up on and chances missed. Once you’ve given yourself that score for your life up till now, he explained how the majority of the population would honestly give themselves a score of 5 or 6, and that’s because as a species, the human race is programmed to do just enough. But then he asked the audience what score they would want to see at the end of it all, when they’re lying on their death bed and thinking about their life. It gets you thinking right? What do we want to be able to tell our grandchildren when they ask what we spent our lives doing? And how do we make sure that we’re going to bed at night with a cheeky little grin because we know that we rocked the day. Well, he had a few pieces of advice.
- Be prepared to give it a go, especially when you don’t know the answer: if you live your life never having tried something for fear that you won’t succeed, then you’re missing out on the chance to discover new and amazing things about yourself and about the world. If you can’t do it, no big deal, there are hundreds of other things you will be able to do.
- Believe in yourself: this one is self explanatory. You are your biggest fan, so believe that you can do it, and you will find the courage to try.
- Compliment those around you: remind yourself that, as shocking as it may be, not everything is about you. There’s something so satisfying about seeing the look on a complete stranger’s face as you walk by her on the street and tell her how you love her funky pink hair. Or even closer to home, tell your mum how beautiful she is, and your dad how inspiring he is. Remember, that what goes around comes around.
- Have positive conversations with yourself – sometimes we can be so cruel to ourselves. We tell ourselves things that we would never dream of saying to someone else and we think it’s ok to put ourselves down for the things that make us who we are. I watched a video on Facebook the other day which I thought was so beautiful (I’ll share the link for it here). Basically the message of the video was in the end, to pull out a picture of yourself when you were 5 years old and look at that innocent child staring back at you with so much hope and love in their eyes. Remember their dreams and all of their sweetness and ask yourself if you would ever tell them the horrible things that you tell yourself when you look in the mirror now. Would you think they deserved that? Chances are you wouldn’t. Would you think that that child would deserve to know that he/she is strong and perfect just the way they are and that they can accomplish anything? I’m going to go with yes on this one. So why wouldn’t you say that to yourself now?
- Know your strengths: in your personal and in your work life. That’s the only way you’ll be able to build on your weaknesses and push yourself forward to achieving your full potential.
- Have a plan or a vision as big as your potential. Dream big. No matter what stage in your life you’re in right now, it is never too late to be what you might have been.
I hope that this helped you think about what it is you need to be doing more, or less of, in order to live a happy life. Have a fabulous week, stay motivated, stay happy, and stay positive! Sit back, grab some Oreos, and let’s see what life has to offer us next!