In part one of this article series I addressed what I would consider to be the dark, cold, hard truth about bout motivation. The fact that you just have to pick you damn self up and move the fuck out to the sound of gunfire because life is suffering and the only way to make it better is to take action. That’s all true. But there is another side to this issue of motivation and it’s well worth knowing. In fact, your life may just depend on it.
It’s important to understand that the survival side of motivation is pretty dull. It’s not really moving toward something, it’s just not dying. But not dying isn’t exactly living or even worth living for. In this regard humans have a unique psychological character that does make life worth living and great deeds worth doing. Humans have creative imaginations and a penchant for what we call art or aesthetics.
Aesthetics philosophically tell us how the world can be or it helps us to remember what it was, especially the attractive, pleasurable parts. In The Way of The American Warrior I noted how aesthetics isn’t just art in the sense of painting or architecture. It’s the art of how we lead our lives and the pictures we draw for ourselves of our own ideal life. In this way, we are chasing pleasure because we believe if we could just get to that place we see in our heads, then we will finally be happy. This is incredibly important to understand.
But it’s still not that simple. Humans are connected to the world in so many ways. We are constantly creating our own reality through a variety of mechanisms. And here is where it gets complicated. Our state of being depends very heavily on the interplay and relationship between our mental processes, our belief systems, and our physical actions. Specifically, our physical world usually mirrors our psychological world. You know what I’m talking about. Think about all those times nothing was going right and you didn’t know what to do. So, you decided to clean the house or your room. By the time you got done, your mind was in order and you knew what needed to be done. Your room or house being a mess is a direct reflection of your psychological state. We humans function best when our physical and psychological worlds are clean, orderly, and logical. There is a reason that Japanese culture was so obsessed with clean lines and the relationships between physical objects. The Samurai were particularly careful about these things, and speaking of the Samurai, they understood very well the importance of art for the warrior.
While keeping clean and orderly will help keep your psychological processes clean and orderly, it doesn’t end there. If that’s all you do, you’re just maintaining and as I have said, there is no such thing as maintaining. You’re either in advance or retreat. Never retreat!
The Samurai were acutely aware that creativity was important for many reasons. The thing is, if you are creating something, especially something of beauty, then you are paying close attention to something and replicating it. Even better, you may be improving it. And the more creative you get on canvas, or in landscaping, or carpentry, or the other arts, the more you come to understand the universe and the more creative you become in all things. When recovering from combat, art allows us to bring order to our scattered thoughts and emotions. It also allows us to explore the beauty of the world around us.
All of this gives us intrinsic motivation to move forward. The true intrinsic motivation humans are born with is the motivation to create. From small things to massive things. From a child scratching in the dirt with a stick to draw a dog, to a man orchestrating the formation of a new nation. Every day we have to get up driven to create something we want, something we desire, something we think will help ourselves or others.
And this is why we’re so fucked as a society today. No one is motivated to create shit. Everyone gets up and demands that someone entertain them, do something for them or to give them something. And if you recall part 1, you will remember that humans have a nasty tendency to not change their behavior unless they think they’re going to die in the next 60 seconds. You want to know why television is so bad for you? It robs you of imagination, creativity and artistic skill. It turns you into a worthless, needy little bitch. Video games do this 1,000 times more effectively than television. And the worst is bad parents combined with television and video games.
So how do you get that intrinsic motivation back? Start creating something. Build something. Draw something. Paint something. Write something. Do it for yourself. Do it for someone else. Prepare to fail a lot and never quit. Eventually you’ll get it and then something interesting will happen. That thing you did won’t be perfect, but it will be of good quality. So now you’ll want to do something better. Now you will have come from incompetence to competence and you’ll be moving on to mastery. You want that and you need that.
So when it comes to motivation, when you’re wondering why you’re not motivated, stop and ask yourself just what the hell have you created recently. Have you cleaned your room? Your house? Fixed something? Written anything in perfect penmanship? Painted something? Built something of high quality? Had a great but challenging conversation? If not, you should. That’s where you’ll find motivation that draws you forward in life, love, and liberty.
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