Vivek Trivedi

ENGINEER-MECHANICAL, University of Oldenburg

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Self-motivation, a myth or reality?

Self-motivation, which is stated as "The psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior".

There are many kinds of motivation for us to propel ourselves as much as we can; In order to achieve greater position, respect, money, to look different and many more. We usually come across many people who say, I am a self motivated person, whatever comes my way, in order to get a job or an assignment. but does this thing really exist?

Is there any person in this world who is absolutely "Self-motivated" to do something better for the society, leaving behind the thoughts of of the fame, money, respect and other associated rewards from it?

Don't the human race, requires that "something" to call themselves as self-motivated?

I will deeply appreciate your personal thoughts about this.

  • Mar 3 2012: I'm coming back to answer your question:

    "Is there any person in this world who is absolutely "Self-motivated" to do something better for the society, leaving behind the thoughts of of the fame, money, respect and other associated rewards from it"

    And the answer is....YES!!

    Many people volunteer their time, energy and resources to do small things in great ways all over the world.

    The list is long, and they are involved in all fields.......and they are from many different backgrounds.

    Here is a quote I love about volunteers: "Volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless".

    I am one such volunteer.....what I do, is motivated by love.....there is not enough money in the world to pay me for what I do.....it is priceless.
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      Mar 23 2012: I honestly admire the every pious intention behind volunteering, my question revolves around same thing, even if I am volunteering for something from my heart, isn't there anything except "pure love" behind it? May be feeling of being recognized, improved self respect in our own eyes etc, can it be absolute volunteering?
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        Mar 23 2012: I agree Vivek...some people may start volunteering simply to be recognized, or improve themselves in other people's eyes. However, my guess is that once people start contributing to our world by volunteering, they may change their perception. I think/feel that it would be very difficult to continue working with vulnerable needy people without opening the heart to compassion and empathy. So, even if some people start out with some superficial intent, at least they may be starting the process of discovering "absolute volunteering"?
        • Mar 23 2012: I find your expressions very upbuilding....and I had not thought about that....you can start with a negative that turns into a positive.

          There is an elderly friend I visit. Each time I am about to leave she says "your visits are like the best therapy money can buy"..........and I always tell her, 'oh no, you are mistaken, I am the one who received the most in this visit'...I am the one who is walking away joyful and filled with happiness at such a visit....because I really feel that each time I go to visit her, I get the best end of the deal....she has so many lively stories to share that I always leave with a big smile on my face and my heart full of wonder and excitement.

          It is like this with volunteering for me. I feel I get more than what I put in. Amazing huh??
      • Mar 23 2012: You know Vivek, once someone with position (leadership) invited a group of us over to their home.
        We each took over snacks, then we watched a video.....there were many age groups present. Years later, talking to this individual, I brought up how kind it had been for them to take time out of their busy life filled with lots of activity and responsibility to entertain. Their answer was: "Oh, I did it for selfish motives....I didn't want to be alone that night". Although at first their words bothered me a little, I later, realized it was just a humble reply....they were actually trying to set an example in hospitality..........that it doesn't take much to be hospitable.

        And volunteering is like this, it doesn't take much to volunteer your time, effort, and resources. It just takes finding something you want to stand up for, and then going about doing it.

        I find that I get much more out of the volunteering than I put it. Mostly, because the fruits of my labor are not seen, that keeps me humble....and also, I meet so many people, and are able to see what a lack of knowledge and understanding about life results in, that I have cultivated empathy and understanding of my fellow human being. We are all so vulnerable....we desperately need the human touch and some kind of hope.

        I volunteer my time, energy, resources and innate abilities with the best of intentions, but I constantly have to do self check to make sure I stay with the right attitude.....because like you said, it is easy to get carried away and do it for some other reason. This is very true.....I have to be vigilant that I do not develop any other motives except helping out of love.

        Thank you for your reply.
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      Mar 23 2012: Thank you Mary:>) It seems that we are many times on the same page with thoughts, feelings, and ideas?

      You say..."you can start with a negative that turns into a positive". I percieve that when anyone takes the first step to give of themselves and volunteer, it is, in my mind and heart, a positive step regardless of the reason behind it. As I said, I think/feel it would be difficult to ignore compassion and empathy when emersed in volunteer activities, so that first step is good, in my humble perception. I try to stay clear of judging people's actions as negative or positive because I never really know what someone else's motivation actually is.

      I also visited an elderly friend/neighbor almost every day for about 10-12 years, after her husband passed away, and she passed away last year at the age of 92. I got to know her better, as part of the team caring for her husband who was dying of cancer. He was unconscious at the end, so she and I spent a LOT of time chatting, and it was very enjoyable, even under the circumstances. After he passed away, I continued to visit her almost every day, and as she got older and more frail, often popped in several times a day, just to make sure she was ok. She was a delightful person from whom I learned a LOT. I agree with you...it always feels like I am "getting" so much out of situations...maybe it's win/win for all of us who share ourselves with others?
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    Mar 25 2012: Your question poses a real condrum. Parents are teachers too. They employ the old stick and carrot (extrensic) motivation. That same motivation is employed by grade, middle, and high schools. When we enter the job force one of the major factors is pay. Again the stick and carrot. The most gratifing moment in my life as an instructor is when the student goes from extrensic to intrensic. At that moment s/he is as close to self motivating as s/he will ever be. I coach and work as a volunteer because life has been good to me and it is time to give back. My reward is knowing I have provided an opportunity for learning or growth. You can call that self-motivation or intrensic motivation or what ever you want I call it self satisfaction and community service. All the best. Bob.
  • Mar 4 2012: We are genetic mules, meaning that our purpose in life is to carry our genes and pass them on to future generations. This is because the only genes that survived the billions of years of evolution on Earth were the ones that encouraged this objective. Every thought that we have, everything we ever do is controlled by an organ that is influenced by mental algorithms written by our genetic code, and is influenced memetically by things like advice from people you trust, coke commercials telling you what you should buy, and politicians wearing red ties to symbolize power and intelligence. Self-motivation is the only motivation in the world, when you think about it. If someone tells you to do something, you only do it because your brain told your body to act on it after calculating that the opportunity's benefits exceeded its cost. In this way, you could argue that there is no such thing as free will, independent thought, opinion, or anything. It's all very nihilistic, which is why I tell myself that it is all okay, and go on about my daily life.
  • Mar 2 2012: I will say every one in this world is self motivated - It is in the nature and we have been brought up by our parents - by comparing or showing or watching TV - to enable us to have certain individual aspirations etc., One is motivated to earn on his own, another is motivated to become a parasite, another one is motivated to steal from a bank, another one is motivated to bank on studies so he can become a Doctor or some thing, one is motivated by listening to the political speeches and another one is motivated by watching movies. The "change" is essentially brought by the motivation. Parents might have worked hard to get their children to become an Engineer but when he has been motivated to become a doctor - nothing will stop him. Self-motivation is inherent in every one - but the size of it may vary.
    • Mar 3 2012: Very very insightful......yes, we all are motivated to reach different goals.

      This reminds be of a quote that says, "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it". Michelangelo

      Thank you so very much for your insight.
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      Mar 23 2012: Thanks for your insights Subramanayam, The logic that I am trying to argue here, behind every self motivation, there is already a picture presented in front of our eyes, by our environment, our surroundings and our idea of living happily. For example, in my community, the only motivation for a student, is to get a job! then build a life from there. what kind of job, does it interest that person or not, all things are immaterial. Its only now when we have started questioning "What am I doing?" Our previous generation is still happy in doing what they are doing for years, without even complaining once!
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        Mar 23 2012: Vivek,
        I agree that each and every one of us may have a "picture", or idea about our environment, surroundings and living happily.

        It seems like a very broad statement, to say that "our previous generation is still happy in doing what they are doing for years, without even complaining once". I believe there are many people in all generations doing things to change our world for the better. I find that focusing on the good things that happen gives the good things energy to continue, while focusing on what is NOT happening also gives THAT energy to continue. We need to be aware of why and how things evolved to be less productive to our world and society. And most of my focus goes toward change and moving forward. My glass is usually half full, rather than half empty:>)
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          Mar 23 2012: Dear Colleen, I seriously admire your approach towards life. Your above comment has also given me a motive to volunteer for more activities, without thinking much about returns. I have not seen life much, but when I look back and try to find moments I cherish till now, I never find that monetary rewards brought me any (except for momentary smile). They were the times when I seriously went ahead for anything, without event expecting a thanks. When I say our older generation, I mean, since I am from a developing country, all we are taught to stand on our feet (which means earning) and build a life. In terms of societal service also, its a monetary donations that counts for people. I am not sure, if this mentality can be changed soon, but yes, the new generation is promising which bring hopes for better world.
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        Mar 23 2012: Dear dear Vivek!
        Thank you for your kind words...my "approach towards life" is my pleasure:>) My comment gave you motive to volunteer??? THAT INFORMATION IS SO SPECIAL TO ME!!! Yes, I'm shouting with joy!!!

        Reaching out to others always intensifies my smile too Vivek:>) When we let go of expectations, there is magic in our world!

        We were taught as kids to stand on our feet and earn a living as well, and that is a valuable practice. Along with that practice, I adopted some other practices as I traveled the life adventure.

        "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give..."
        (Winston Churchill)
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          Mar 24 2012: Only your words were enough for a lazy and confused soul, joining teach for India to teach underprivileged children soon! The only motivation at the moment, to get more motivation once I am into it!

          Keep it up Colleen, thanks a ton!
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        Mar 25 2012: Vivek,
        I appreciate your feedback very much. You are not a lazy and confused soul at all. I see you as an insightful, motivated person who needed a little boost? I agree, once you are into it, you will encourage others, and create a wonderful cycle to carry on with the process.
        Thanks to you as well.....I appreciate you:>)
  • Mar 2 2012: Ok, I will take a crack at answering your question.

    Self-motivation is when you personally set goals for yourself and set about accomplishing them.

    You do not need someone nagging you and telling you what to do and how to do it.

    I think self-motivation has alot to do with self-esteem.

    It is reality...........some people are very self-motivated.............it starts the moment you wake up.....and decide....
    "today, I will live".

    This is my humble opinion.
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    Mar 23 2012: Self-motivation is a myth which can profoundly impact our individual reality.
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    Mar 2 2012: Many people engage in activities that satisfy an internal desire to understand, to serve others, or to feel better physically or emotionally. I don't think this suggests that they do not also enjoy being paid to do what they love or receiving recognition for it.