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    Our mood swings are a direct reflection of our motivation. This makes motivation a feeling. Neuroscientific research shows that motivation has a specific direction: it takes us from a point where we feel dissatisfaction to a point where we feel either less dissatisfaction or satisfaction. When we are demotivated we don't want to do anything. When we feel highly motivated that motivation comes from the sheer pleasure we feel in doing something. That's intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation delivers the best results because it minimizes our perception of the effort involved in order to do something. There are, also, several types of external motivation that can make us do things. External motivation can be a powerful motive but it doesn't last long (think: beach body diets and competition-type training). I am putting all this here because motivation is a question that comes up again and again in different contexts within The Hive. It is a complex, multi-factorial subject that touches deeply on our goals, aspirations, direction in life, sense of self, identity and even our understanding of how the world works.

    Please feel free to ask any questions about all this. Stay safe.

    Thanks Damer. I guess right now, I would sort of say that I am Extrinsicly motivated (both weight loss and the idea of a half-marathon). What can I do to develop/transform my motivation to an intrinsically motivated desire.?


      cjohnson.usmc that's an excellent question! Most of the time, most of us start off with an extrinsic motivation. The reason we do so is because it is usually a short-term goal (lose weight, run a marathon, look great in a particular moment at a particular event and so on). Short-term goals are easier to commit to because our perception of the effort required to achieve them leads us to under-estimate the difficulty of the task and over-estimate our own ability to perform it. Despite these two biases we usually tend to stick with them and carry them out because we can see the 'finish line'.

      This is exactly why many people who are currently less than their best did, at some point, attain their ideal weight or ran that half marathon. So, how do we get past that? It requires a little reframing and some introspection. They are both hard to do. Reframing needs us to place the short-term goal into a long-term journey. If, as an example, my goal is to be as fit at 50 as I am at 30 then I know that I need to, let's say, train for a marathon once a year for the next 20 years. As you can see this is mostly functional. A short-term goal is placed inside a long-term one. Then we need to ask "why?" - why do you want to lose weight. Why do you want to run that half marathon?

      Usually the answers here, when we are being honest with our self, have to do with who we are (our sense of identity), who we want to be seen to be (our sense of self-worth) and what we want our life to be like (our sense of satisfaction). If, as an example again, you want to be the kind of person who at 50 or 60 or 70 is mentally sharp, capable of taking of yourself (good health, a feeling of general physical wellbeing) and independent then you synthesize all that into that person you want to be then and start now.

      I have made it sound like it's a permanent solution. It is, but it needs refreshing and reinforcement (this is why The Hive and the support we offer each other is so crucial to staying on track). Once you work all this out, there will still be days when you doubt yourself, feel de-motivated, wonder what the heck it is all about and what the heck are you doing? Accept that this is normal. We are not machines. As organic beings our focus and motivation fluctuates. We have to accept that momentary instances of weakness are normal. And we need to focus on what we want by achieving a clarity in our own wishes.

      I really hope this helps.


        That makes perfect sense. One thing that I would like to add for people who struggle with the "All or Nothing" mentality (I have been trying to get out of this mindset for sometime now), is that taking a week off and splurging while on vacation does not mean that you failed and you should give up. It simply means that you need to get back to it, and pick up where you left off. Think about the progress you have made over time, and not the most recent week where you took time off from your diet or exercise plan.


          cjohnson.usmc thank you so much for adding that comment! For many complex reasons we are always harder on our self than we should be. The "all or nothing" approach and the mindset that accompanies it sets us up to fail. We need, always, to strive for balance. In the course of 365 days for example, a day here or there where we goof-off, or don't train or break with our regime is nothing. Yet frequently we focus on it so much that it completely derails us. We should all learn from what you said.


            Originally posted by Damer View Post
            For many complex reasons we are always harder on our self than we should be.
            My rule if I realize that I am being unreasonably hard on myself is to think of a good friend, someone who is just as stubborn as I am but also someone I would tell the truth if they had made a huge mistake, and ask if I would say that to them. And sometimes the answer is "yes." But usually the answer is "no, I would point out their list of successes and be their cheer-squad." Why? Because very few of the things we beat ourselves up about are actually moral failings. No one is a bad person for eating ice cream or skipping their workout. Once I am asking if I'd chew my friend out for it, then I can see that I'd help my friend make a backup plan for next time, or otherwise do things that a real friend does when we fall down. So that's what I should do for myself, too.

            Just a thing that helps me when I am down on myself.


              Kanary that's excellent! The technique you employ is called "the self-distancing effect" in psychology and it involves treating our self as a third person. It's a little like that scene in The Matrix where Trinity talks to herself after she's jumped across a rooftop running from an Agent and fallen down some stairs and she says "Get up Trinity". The effect is that inside our head we basically acquire a third perspective where we see our self from the outside in and then we can be more objective in our judgement and kinder in our handling. You're right we should each be our self's best advocate and number one fan. We're usually not that because we focus on our failings from the inside out and they are then disproportionately magnified. Stepping outside our self through this change of perspective addresses that imbalance. This pep-talk in the third person, or a change of perspective where we view our self as a friend is a mental hack that's highly effective and allows us to function better. Thank you for adding this here.


                That's another reason why the Hive is such a great help with staying on track. People cheer you up when you do well, and support you when you're having difficulties. I find it a great motivation because I don't want to disappoint the Bees.


                  Anek agreed 100%! We raise each other up here all the time and act as each other's cheerleaders and support group.


                    I'm feeling motivated right now, even with intrinsic motivation, which is great. I want to do this, it's fun, I'm feeling some results. But I have a worry that I'm going to lose it at some point. That's not just an abstract worry; I have previous form. When I've given up in the past it's usually three or four months into an exercise program, where I start feeling like I have to ramp it up continuously, and eventually, it gets too hard or too time consuming, and I lose interest and stop. The thought processes are something like, I can't spend two hours today, so I can't work out. Or, I need to do [some difficult thing that I can't do] and that sounds really hard so I won't work out. It's not quite that clear cut and obvious, but I think that's more or less what happens.

                    There's another failure mode, also, which I think may be the other side of the same coin. That is, I decide whatever I'm doing isn't enough, and because [insert reasons] I can't do more right now, so I just stop doing what I was doing, feeling like it's hardly better than nothing. Of course, it's not nothing, and a month or so after I stop I realise that, but then it's hard to get back in the habit, et cetera, et cetera.

                    I'm about six weeks in using Darebee, still on difficulty level 1 programs, and I worry that when I start trying to do harder programs I might get into that place where I lose motivation and don't continue. There are some aspects of Darebee that I think will actually help with that, like it not being so repetitive. Even within the programs, there's quite a lot of variation, and then in 30 days I can look forward to a new program. Then the challenges and workouts also give a lot of variety. But I've got previous form, as I said, so I'm still worried that I'll fall into those old familiar patterns.

                    Any thoughts on strategies to deal with that?


                      CarbonaraTamara thank you so much for adding this here and these are classic scenarios our brain plays out to sabotage our efforts. There are ways around them but before we get to them it is really worth our time to understand why it happens. While it's true that we are our own worst enemy (and the cases you describe perfectly illustrate that) the reason we give up because something is seemingly too hard and getting harder or not enough and therefore not worth continuing are the same. From a neuroscientific perspective the neural pathways activated in each case is the same and it has to do with the brain's reward system.

                      A little more specifically: Brains have evolved to help us survive and in order to do that they need us to behave in a balanced way where the return on investment (ROI) of our energy expenditure delivers some reward. That means that there is a mechanism against perseverance that stops us from becoming obsessed with something despite repeated failures, and can then move on to other things.

                      Because our Brain has evolved to help us survive, it tries to fulfill that role by behaving in a balanced way where the return on investment (ROI) of our energy expenditure delivers some reward. That means that there is a mechanism against perseverance that stops us from becoming obsessed with something despite repeated failures and can then move on to other things.

                      Our motivation is governed by our values. Our values are created out of our sense of purpose. Purpose is the result of distinct choices in the direction we choose to head towards. Our actions are powered by our motivation.

                      A strong motivation comes from the clarity of our sense of what we want to do (and why) that emerges only after we have faced our self, deep inside and asked the difficult questions of “who” and “why”.

                      So the solution is to work out what we want not at a cognitive level (I, for instance can totally explain to myself why I want to be strong) but at an emotional level that touches upon our future goals and our sense of identity. In my case, I have always been strong because I have always trained. When I was doing competitive martial arts the reason to train was obvious (I was not going to lose a fight because I hadn't trained). When I stopped I had to work out a new reason for myself (and just the need to be fit or continue to feel capable in my own body was not enough). What worked for me was the fact that I do not want to be 60 or 70 and feel feeble, trapped inside a body that cannot adequately move itself about or do the physical things I would like it to do such as running about, being healthy and active. So I am training now for my future self.

                      You will need to experiment to see what works for you and it will require a little introspection (the fact that you can so well analyze why you fail is more than encouraging). At the same time you (and all of us, actually) must accept that there is an element of failure in all this that is acceptable. Because we are not machines our focus, determination and sense of purpose fluctuate depending on a host of environmental factors. There is research, for example, that shows that on sunny days people do more active things because they feel more hopeful about the future while on cloudy days or really cold days risk-taking behavior goes up and we can give up on tasks quite easily. If we factor this up-and-down motion in our expectations we then know that a bad day, or a bad week even is not enough to derail us. We have to convince ourselves that we are better than that, that we deserve better than that and therefore can find the strength we need to pick up and go on.

                      Using personal imagery that is important to us, pep talks and seeking the help of friends (or seeking help and support within The Hive, when we need it) is key to providing us with the kind of perspective that allows our brain (that is focused on the negative factors it is experiencing in that very moment) to re-calibrate, change perspective and re-adjust so that the long-term goals come back in sight and the reward system kicks in.

                      I am adding this video here that always inspires me when I feel low or tired or totally 'empty' and think I just can't go on doing what I do:

                      I hope this really helps.


                        Damer Thanks for sharing your gifts and expertise. Being there for my family and loved ones - long-term - is my motivation. On those mornings I’m not motivated I find if I just put on my workout clothes my body will respond. I’m always glad I did. Loved the video.


                          TrentMallory thank you and thank you so much for adding this invaluable comment here. To put a more scientific name to what you just said it's applying "enclothed cognition" which is what happens to us neurochemically when we put on the 'uniform' of sorts that is part of our process of preparing for action. It's one of the reasons I love RPG-fitness. On my really low days I train to be Batman.


                            Damer, Thanks very much for your detailed reply. Lots of food for thought.

                            I find it's really useful to understand a bit more how the body and brain work from an evolutionary perspective. Some years ago I was working closely with some HR people, and they would use the term "five-million-year-old legacy liveware" to refer to humans. They were mostly talking about behaviour in the workplace, but it seems to apply even more in this context! This seems to explain many things. We are tuned for optimising chances of survival in an environment that we no longer live in. Understanding that is the first step to dealing with it.

                            I was musing a few days ago, after reading some of the Darebee guides, that like a computer, your body will do exactly what you tell it to do. Also like a computer, what you think you are telling it to do may not be what you are actually telling it to do. For example, a calorie controlled diet. What you think you are telling your body to do is to get rid of excess weight for good. What you are actually telling your body to do is to use previously hoarded reserves to get through this food shortage, and rebuild them again when it's over. Your body does what it's told to do, and from its point of view, in your best interests, but that wasn't quite the result you were looking for. But unlike a computer, the results are seen on a scale of months and years rather than seconds and minutes, which makes it harder to spot the problems with the instructions.

                            You speak of finding the deeper motivation, the reasons that will keep me going when the five-million-year-old legacy liveware wants me to take it easy and conserve energy, presenting a barrier. Funnily enough, for me it's pretty much the same as you say it is for you: to be able to maintain quality of life into old age. I want to be able to do the hilly walk overlooking the sea, I want to finish the music degree that I've started, I want to be able to keep cooking homemade meals, I want to be able to lift things in the garden, et cetera. I don't want to succumb to a weak body, weak bones, weak mind. That's why I named my check-in log "You're welcome, future self." That's who I'm doing it for. What I do now (or don't do) will have a material effect on the quality of the years I have left. That's the well that I need to dip into when the brain tells me to quit because I'm getting nowhere.

                            Thanks for that inspiring video and the other ideas. I don't need them now, because everything's fine. But hopefully by thinking about what I'm going to do when motivation starts to drop before it actually does, I'll be able to get through it. Because I AM going to earn that 2-year badge.


                              We are tuned for optimising chances of survival in an environment that we no longer live in. Understanding that is the first step to dealing with it.