self love

Amore, amore!

It’s 2016! We’ve all had the last month to get high off the new year, new me motivation. I hope you spent it well! If you’re anything like me, you mostly made plans to kick ass. That’s okay though, because now it’s February. February is the real ass-kickin’ month. Why, you ask? Because February is all about the LOVE!

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Some of you may be groaning with that “don’t get all mushy on me” vibe. You might want to just swallow that vomit back down and get on this love train, because it is going to be great.

When I say February is the month of love, I need to clarify one thing. I’m not saying Valentine’s day is around the corner and because you might be alone you should start forcefully improving. Oh, hell no! I’m talking about getting down with all the love. Self love, family love, friends love, pet love, food love, and all the other great loves we, well, love! Valentine’s day is a great excuse to celebrate all these things. Since we’re making excuses, we might as well make Valentine’s day the excuse to celebrate it all month!

You may be thinking, okay clearly Cara has lost it. Love has nothing to do with motivation. To that I say pish posh, my friend! Haven’t you ever been in love? Being in love inspires and motivates you to do crazy things. I mean why do I do the dishes? Because I love my mom, and I know it makes her happy. Why do I go running sometimes? Take one look at my excited pup and you’ll figure out why. Why don’t I just say screw it and call out of work? Because I love the people I work with, and that would make their days suck. Think about it, find your gem of life. Then acknowledge just how much it inspires you to do.

At one point I wrote an article about intrinsic motivation, and how important it is to follow your own path, work on the things you’re passionate about. Oddly enough I didn’t even realize that all that really meant is, do what you love. If you do what you love, you’re going to be more inspired to keep doing it. End result? Love equals motivation.

My first step for this Love month is FIND YOUR LOVE. Get on those dating websites and hunt that perfect person down! Just kidding! What I’m talking about is better than a desperate Valentine’s date. It’s a date with yourself. It’s you, some hot chocolate (or coffee!), a comfy seat, and a pen and paper. Time to write out those feelings. I know it’s cheesy but I promise, it works. The only rule? Be honest and open with yourself. Give yourself some time to figure out what exactly is your favorite thing in life. What is the most important thing to you? Get down with your bad self and find that Love. It doesn’t have to be something concrete, it doesn’t have to make you money, and it doesn’t have to be sentimental either.

Your love is yours, it can be anything. Any idea, any rule, any person. It can be a noun, verb, or pronoun! It doesn’t matter. You can write one hundred loves, or maybe just one. You can write an essay about your love or just a single word. As long as it feels true to you.

Find it, acknowledge it, and sit with it. For now, just figuring out what you really are passionate about is enough. I know, this is some pretty heavy, vomit inducing, mushiness but just try it. I promise, I won’t tell anyone.

If at first you don’t Succeed ask yourself – Why?

What makes the difference between those of us who will procrastinate until we can’t function and the people who tackle obstacles for fun? Were they born with some super gene that keeps them going? Do they have access to some illegal energy drink that we don’t?

This guy's trying to figure it out too.

This guy’s trying to figure it out too.

I can’t vouch for the entire population but there is one factor that psychologists have pin pointed. A difference between the go getters and do-it-laterers. Why we are motivated. Why do you want to go to the gym? What is the point in eating healthy? Why are you waking up early? Are you doing these things to avoid something? To gain something? Then you are being extrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation is carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments. It is an outside force motivating you. Those super powered beings? They are generated by intrinsic motivation, the desire to do something because they want to. It is motivation generated from the motivatee. Here’s an example; why am I writing this article? Am I writing it because I want to be a famous blogger or am I writing it because I enjoy it? If I’m writing it to be famous that’s an extrinsic motivator. Because extrinsic motivators can be intangible, like receiving praise or recognition, or avoiding shame. If I’m writing it because I enjoy it then I’m intrinsically motivated.

Now a lot of us have been convinced that rewards and punishments are always the way to motivate someone but this is not true. Extrinsic motivation can sometimes help but really once you put a price on something it loses that inner reward. Once you lose that inner reward well, no bribe or threat can really replace it. Intrinsic motivation gives us that push that even money can’t. Now after I learned about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation I kind of started to freak out. Everything I did was extrinsically motivated. I tried to read certain books to seem smarter. I went to the gym because I didn’t want to get fat. I worked my job because that’s just what grown-ups do. Everything I did was done because that’s what grown-ups do.

Then it dawned on me. Screw being a societal grown up. Screw doing anything because that’s “what you’re supposed to do”. I’d rather talk about magic than politics. Running around playing tag is always more fun than on a treadmill. Working a million jobs to avoid working one job I hate is worth it. I don’t care if I look like a responsible adult. Everything I did was extrinsically motivated because I had taken all of my intrinsic motivation and shut it down. My little spark was dying. My spark of curiosity and challenge, of passion and awe. I had allowed other people and outside ideas to determine what I should do. When I couldn’t force myself into that image, I felt inadequate. The thing is, I was never inadequate, I just had to actually be me.

When you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something, stop. Ask yourself; why am I doing this? Is this something I want? Do I enjoy this? Are these actions reaching towards a goal I made? Take the time to listen to your brain, instead of always stuffing it with more nonsense. Put down the so under ground it’s cool interest. Walk away from the images of what other people have told you to be. Find your little spark, and then make it a fire. Delve into the things you love and you will find yourself burning up with motivation. Keep that childlike wonder in everything you do. Turn to the challenges that you want to win. Chase after the things you are passionate about. Curiosity will take you farther than any candy bar could.

Whether your spark reaches for fantasy books, ultimate frisbee, knitting, or even world domination just go with it. And tell me about it! I would love to hear about your crazy dreams or geeky interests. I would especially love to hear how you feel about this post so let me know!