People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
In the past few months, I’ve been turned off rather than inspired by the seemingly endless onslaught from the “New Age” and “Self help” teachers that are everywhere. I feel their words of hope have been replaced by hype.
Labels and terms come and go, but little of the content that is being put out there is actually new or groundbreaking. Words like mission have become dharma, goals have become intentions and stories have replaced beliefs. Even the genre name of the industry is not fixed. Is it Self-Help, Self-Development, Self-Motivation, or Self-Reliance?
I have felt let down after getting excited and inspired by the promises that some seminars offered — when I get home, it’s as if I can physically see the energy seeping out of me. It’s the same with books — I turn the last page, and feel myself hitting a new low instead of feeling energized.
At the start of the year, I grew so disillusioned that I couldn’t stand seeing the latest sensation sitting next to Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. So I gave up on the whole New Age scene and took some time out.
I grasped that the spiritual plateau that I seemed to be stuck on was less about the so-called teachers and more about me. I wanted a quick fix solution and to change instantly, I wanted my own satori moment. I had placed the self-help gurus on pedestals, comparing everything that came out of their mouths with Jesus addressing his disciples.
I was intrigued by how differently motivation and inspiration affect our long-term behavior and results.
Motivation means we have an idea and we are going to carry through on that idea. We work hard at it, and we are disciplined Inspiration is exactly the opposite. If motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, inspiration is the reverse. An idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.
For example, I started serious writing almost 18 months ago when I was motivated by a 30-day challenge. I was motivated enough to complete the challenge successfully, which led to a writing habit and, more importantly, it got me to a place where I got that “in spirit” feeling– like a Writer’s High. I set up my own blog and started posting on social media.
But after a while I stopped writing. I was besieged with problems in my business and I couldn’t focus, and I lost my alignment.
Then one day, out of the blue, I received a random email from someone I didn’t even know who said that they enjoyed my articles and posts and was wondering why I had stopped.
I suddenly remembered that I was writing to feel inspired, to share myself with our world, and to feel the divine within me.
I remembered that one of the reasons I wake up every day is to write.
In this process of cycling between enlivenment and disillusionment, I learned that there are 3 steps you need to move through before what you hear or read can then be implemented successfully into your life:
Motivation is about being pushed to do something. Whether the motivation comes from the voices inside our own heads or from the people in our lives, we are encouraged to achieve a task or a goal. Being motivated is a process that speaks strictly, and directly, to your mind. It moves us from stagnation, procrastination and helps us create habits we need in our lives.
Here we often beat our chests, psych ourselves up, and we take action without engaging our feelings. We tick our tasks and enjoy a brief moment of elation, and when we don’t do the task, we can feel let down or enter the realm of fear. We are on duty here. There is a lot of measuring, and pressure put on us from external forces.
Inspiration comes from the Latin word Inspirare, which, loosely translated, means “to be in spirit” or “have divine guidance.”
Inspiration is what pulls you to become everything you felt was possible during the last seminar you loved or the book that actually blew your mind. It speaks directly to your heart. You don’t have any hang-ups about why you are doing what you are doing, you just feel absolutely right about doing it.
Inspiration is a life force that enters into you and manifests into creative genius if you allow it to. It’s a deep knowing and you feel it in your bones: it tingles down your spine and it lights you up for days on end. In this step, our heart guides us naturally.
However, in the face of our day-to day-lives, we often lose our connection to that glimpse of magic, or that tingling feeling, or the deep knowing we had. They can seem to simply fade away.
Whenever you feel like you’re trying to fulfill a quota or expectation, it’s time to realign. Whenever you’re feeling that what you are doing has lost its value, it’s time to realign. Whenever you feel like you are not enjoying your life, it’s time to realign.
Realignment is actually very simple: all it involves is drawing inward and exploring what you really want. It’s remembering the feeling you had when you were inspired. It’s constantly seeking your “why” in life, and re-aligning your actions with that “why.”
Great teachers consistently practice the skill of realignment and are constantly in an inspired flow, so that they can become vessels to serving humanity.
So does self-help, self-motivation, self-development, etc., work? YES.
The teachers, the books, and the amazing weekend experiences can give you a glimpse of what is possible and can motivate you, by talking directly to your mind. They can help start a new habit, challenge our limiting beliefs and sometimes outright inspire us.
However, ultimately it’s all about us and how much are we ready to commit to apply that change we desperately want to see in our lives?
How driven are we to follow that feeling of bliss?
How intensely do we want to live in that feeling of constant inspiration?
Now when I listen to the words of a teacher, and if their words echo my feelings, I know I need to push myself at the start and that eventually it can become the effortless flow I seek and whenever I feel I’ve lost that feeling then I go back and ask why I did it in the first place.