The “Do Something” Principle

This is one of the most important ideas I’ve stumbled across in my life.

Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.

Most people only commit to action if they feel a certain level of motivation. And they only feel motivation when they feel an emotional inspiration.

People only become motivated to study for the exam when they’re afraid of the consequences. People pick up and learn that instrument when they feel inspired by the people you can play for.

And we’ve all slacked off for lack of motivation before. Especially in times where we shouldn’t. We feel lethargic and apathetic towards a certain goal that we’ve set for ourselves because we lack the motivation and we lack the motivation because we don’t feel any overarching emotional desire to accomplish something.

Emotional Inspiration –> Motivation –> Desirable Action

But there’s a problem with operating under this framework. And that is that often the changes and actions we most need in our lives, are inspired by negative emotions which simultaneously hinder us from taking action.

If someone wants to fix their relationship with their mother. The emotions of the situation (hurt, resentment, avoidance) completely go against the necessary action to fix it (confrontation, honesty, communication). If someone wants to lose weight but experiences massive amounts of shame about their body, then the act of going to the gym is apt to inspire in them the exact emotions that kept them at home on the couch in the first place. Past traumas, negative expectations, and feelings of guilt, shame and fear often motivate us away from the actions necessary to overcome those very traumas, negative expectations, and negative emotions.

It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. But the thing about the motivation chain is that it’s not only a three-part chain, but an endless loop:

Inspiration –> Motivation –> Action –> Inspiration –> Motivation –> Action –> Etc.

Your actions create further emotional reactions and inspirations and move on to motivate your future actions. Taking advantage of this knowledge, we can actually re-orient our mindset in the following way: continue

Mark Manson

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