YOU AND I CONSTANTLY compare what we have
to a benchmark and when the comparison is good, we feel good.
When it's bad, we feel bad. The benchmark I'm referring to could
be a something you want to happen or something you think should
happen or some state of existence that used to exist, or some
ideal that you have been convinced is right. You compare yourself,
your life, your job, your productivity, your marriage, etc.,
against your benchmarks without trying. It happens automatically
and usually somewhat below your conscious awareness. Most of
our thinking is done without our awareness or with only a vague
awareness. It's not that you are unable to become aware of what
you're thinking, but only that you don't usually pay attention
to it or direct it consciously.
So you look, for example, at how far along
you are in life compared to how far along you should be
according to your goals, ideals or standards. If you are about
where you should be or a little ahead, you feel good about your
life, you feel satisfied. If you are behind, you feel unsatisfied.
If your present income and job status is behind your benchmark,
for example, you feel bad.
If you think you can do something about
it to bring your situation up to the benchmark, you will feel
motivated. If you feel the benchmark state is hopelessly out
of reach, you will feel depressed.
Let me put this another way. If you are
unsatisfied, it will be either depressing or motivating. It'll
be motivating if your situation and your benchmark don't match
and you think you can do something to make them match.
It will be depressing if they don't match and you think you can't
make them match.
If it is motivating, but feels unpleasant
(if you feel anxiety or anger, for example), see if you can change
the way you think about it to keep it motivating but pleasant.
For example, a man looks at his wife and
she looks unhappy. He doesn't like that. He's comparing what
actually exists to what "ought" to exist, and they
don't match. If he thinks he can't do anything about it, he will
feel depressed. But let's say he thinks he can do something
about it. He thinks he can change his behavior so she becomes
happy, but he feels angry because he thinks this situation shouldn't
exist. He wants to change it and change it NOW, dammit! What's
mainly making him angry is the way he's thinking about it. It
is motivating, but unpleasantly so. Anger is unpleasant.
So he needs to change the way he thinks
about it so he can still be motivated, but pleasantly
so. He needs to coach himself into thinking differently, just
as he would coach a child who felt angry at some situation. "Now
look here," he says to himself, "I think it shouldn't
exist, but it does. My arbitrary standards about what should
exist don't matter. The universe is not here to satisfy my demands.
The situation does exist. And I don't have to do
anything about it. I want to. I want my wife to be happy.
And I can take steps toward that. I probably can't make it perfect,
but I can make it better."
You see how this kind of thinking is motivating
but pleasantly so? Learn to keep your motivation, but make it
with positive emotions rather than negative emotions. It will
feel better, be better for your health, and work better. Learn how to change your thinking
Upgrade your shoulds, musts,
and demands to preferences.
Make your motivation pleasant.