A friend of mine once asked me about how to regain his motivation when he had lost it all.
“What if you’re reduced to no more than a pile of ash? Devoid of actual feeling? Or a monster, devoid of reason? How do you get up from an all time low, when your legs have been swept out from under you so you can’t even stand? What happens when there are too many cracks in your heart that you can’t fix? What then? Frankly Brandon, I admire your can-do attitude. I wish I had it. But I can’t just get up and go out there and find a place I belong. Which sucks because sometimes I just sit back and realize I don’t belong here either. I can’t be anything I want, because when I’ve finally figured out the solution to a problem, the 86400th second has passed. The last grain has fallen through the hourglass, and all is too late. What happens when you can’t fix or even change mistakes that affect you greatly? Everyone says that you don’t have to worry about it then. But if that’s the case I feel like those times were when you didn’t really care enough in the first place.”
The most depressing times of our lives are those in which we lack purpose. Our purpose is what gives us a reason to even get up to do anything. Without it, there is simply no motivation other than to survive, and barely even that.
Throughout one’s life, there are many different driving purposes, each found and lost as easily as your remote, or the change in your couch cushions. In order to figure out how to find and maintain a driving purpose, we must first find the reason we lose it.
Everybody has their ups and downs. I know that my ups occur most often in summer, and my downs most severely in the fall with a rebuilding session throughout winter and spring. My depressions are most often seasonally motivated, but there are reasons upon reasons of why people drag themselves into oblivion. I think, however, that most of them can be summed up simply into a lack of forward momentum. In the Fall, when I begin to get depressed; the days begin to shorten, people withdraw into their houses, the temperature cools down. The entire vivacity of life begins to die off. All of this regression begins to affect my mind too. Where I live, the sky turns grey from September until mid-March, and with it, my thoughts. Every part of Autumn is regression and conversely; I have found that the times that I feel most alive and the most blissful, are when I can see personal progress in the things I am most passionate about. As such, I can conclude that it seems our depressions are driven by a lack of growth, and our happiest times are during the maintenance or even progressing periods of our lives.
So how are we able to turn our depressions into growth then? I have found that the most effective way to be growing is to have things to do. This is why Fall hits me so hard. I spend all summer insanely busy bouncing from event to event, but as my ability to be outside decreases, so do my plans. As I have explored ways to consistently be working towards growth I discovered that the most effective way, for me at least, is to have a long term path to always be working towards. This path should be simple. I call it an unobtainable goal. One that you’re able to walk along for your entire life and never quite achieve. My path used to be to go to bed in some way better than I was when I had woken up that day. That path alone gave me my purpose for years of becoming the best version of myself I could ever become. The catch, though, is that if I were to always work towards the best version of me, I would never reach it until the day I died. An unobtainable goal. That path, while still very prominent in my life, has fallen to my new path of collecting and sharing wisdom, and documenting my thoughts and experiences along the way. With these paths in mind, I was able to develop a list of things that I can do to grow in that direction that was longer than the ammount of tasks I could actually accomplish. The fact that my goals are life long also allow me to not stress much about not doing everything on that list then and there. It’s almost more of a defence against those regression points in our lives than an actual to do list. I have found that just having this unobtainable goal automatically gives me the purpose and motivation I need in my life to get up in the morning and walk tall as I go about my mission.
When reasoning out your purpose, you should keep in mind the things that you need as a person in order to feel good about yourself. You should think about how you want people to treat you, how you need to schedule your day according to how you work best, how you want people to percieve you, and what things you do that give you the most pleasure. I know that in my life, I like it when people come to me as their confidant and as their leader/mentor. I know that I need more of an appointment based lifestyle as opposed to an open door policy. I need to plan a lot of time in the morning to go through my entire morning ritual. I know that I like it when people feel enlightened by me and when they percieve me as strong and adventurous. And finally I know that I enjoy making people laugh and I crave the nervous feeling I get when I am confronting my biggest fears such as talking to pretty women and speaking in front of large audiences. It is imperative that you are brutally honest with yourself when you go through this self discovery process. One of the hardest things for me to admit to myself is that I feel most validated when someone desires me physically. I now know that this stems from a childhood of chubbiness and rejections, but all the same it was hard to admit such a seemingly shallow thing. Remember though, honest self knowledge is an impenetrable fortress that no one can use against you. No body can suprise you if you are honest about even the more shallow parts of your person.
I have also defined a physical process that you can follow in order to overcome your depressed state. It seems to me that every depression I have had was prompted by a negative turn in my inner monologue. Something happens in which I realise that I am no longer progressing and I begin to feel bad for myself. I’ve noticed that it always feels really good to feel bad for myself at first. I think this derives from the good feelings of sympathy and attention I would get from my mom when something bad would happen to me as a toddler. If I fell and scraped my knee, it seemed my mom would materialize from a cloud of care and worry, and immediately be making sure I was alright and cover me with kisses. When I got older and my mother was no longer there, I was left with no body but myself to rely upon for the sympathy I craved. When you turn towards these negative thoughts, the panacea you feel you’re administering becomes a poison in disguise. It is very very easy to slip into an overall negative state of mind. In order to combat this, the first step is to realise what is happening and desire to change it. Nothing will actually happen until you take it upon yourself to change it. Once you decide to make change you can:
- Get out and do physical activity.
- This gets your endorphins flowing, which is the happy hormone. Even walking thirty minutes a day is proven to increase endorphins, and in turn, your happiness.
- Do something that puts you into the flow state of mind.
- That is when you enjoy something so much that you don’t realise time is even passing. I have found reading fiction novels to be my favorite flow. I am able to lose myself into the world of the characters I fall in love with. Finishing a novel has also been found to increase endorphin production for up to two weeks following the completion, but anything that puts you into flow will do.
- Force yourself to go out with your friends.
- There is a law called the transfer of state of mind. Imagine yourself in a room with someone who is absolutely ecstatic about everything in life. Just happiness incarnate. You will naturally become a little happier by being around happy people.
- Go make someone else happy.
- I have found that some of my proudest moments were when I made someone else’s day. Go compliment three people about something they did, not something they are, and you will immediately feel the results. Happiness is contagious.
- Dress well.
- The old adage “Look good; feel good” is something I rely upon in my day to day happiness. I will feel completely out of whack if I don’t have my hair in place and matching clothes on before I leave my house.
- One final trick I have found to feel better and attain motivation is simply to put socks on when I start my day. Whether I am going out or not. Having cold feet sucks all motivation out of me to do anything other than check my social media sites.
Please keep in mind that this is based off of only my experience in life, I cannot promise that this will work, but I dearly hope it does. Defining a purpose and then executing it is what I think breeds success and happiness.