What Motivates You?

To help you make the most of your life, it is helpful to know several things about yourself. One of the most important is: What motivates you?

Understanding your motivations can help you become more clear and directed when it comes to acting on what is important to you. It can also help you avoid efforts by others to manipulate you into taking action when you otherwise wouldn’t.

For example, let’s think about click-bait. As you surf the web, you may see an ad for something that tries to appeal to your motivation. “Learn this one trick to lose weight” could be a sample advertisement, that targets two different motivations: curiosity (what is the one trick?) and fear (I’m too fat).

There are many different types of motivations possible. In the example above, we saw curiosity and fear, which are prime motivators for many people.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How much is enough?’


We are a naturally curious species, which for the most part has allowed us to ascend, for better or worse, to the place we now inhabit in the ecosystem. Being curious about how the world works has spurred a remarkable series of advances in science and technology.

But fear is also motivates us. We are often afraid of what we don’t know, plus we can fear rejection from society. There are many organizations that rely on these fears to manipulate and control you.

On opposite ends of the motivation spectrum, we are also motivated by anger or by love. What other motivations can you think of?

Related questions: What is important? What deserves your attention? How much of our thoughts are our own? How does media manipulate you? What five ideals are most important to you? How can we turn ideas into actions?

How Do You Determine What Matters?

Most people strive to live a life that has meaning; a life that matters. Key to that end, then, is figuring out just what matters in the first place.

This question follows up on this week’s Throwdown Thursday question: Everything Matters or Nothing Matters. As with many Thursday questions, the answer likely falls somewhere between the two extremes. In this case, there are some things that matter, and some things that don’t.

If that is true, the challenge lies in determining which of your actions fall into which of the two categories. You probably don’t want to spend a lot of time agonizing over decisions that don’t matter. Similarly, you do want to put in the time and effort to make the right call on something that is meaningful.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you think others see you?’


But how to decide between them? One way might be to lump all the small decisions — what to wear, what to eat, when to go to bed, and so on — as being inconsequential. The big decisions — where to go to college, who to marry, which house to buy, whether to have kids — are meaningful.

There are a few problems with this. One is that adding up a bunch of small decisions can equal a big decision. Constantly being late for work (a small decision) day after day may mean you lose your job (a big outcome). And even a small decision can have a big impact. If you trace back the biggest, most important decisions in your life, often they come from small choices we made.

But it is important that we recognize what matters and what doesn’t. Or is it? Maybe we treat every decision as one that matters. Or might that leave your wracked with indecision, stressing over the potential consequences of everything you do?

How do you determine what matters?

Related questions: What is important? How can we turn ideas into actions? How much power does an individual have? What deserves your attention?

 

What Makes A Person Interesting?

When you meet someone new, you may find that person interesting or you may find them boring. Can you pinpoint exactly what makes someone appeal to you?

There are many things that might make someone fun to talk with. Maybe they have funny stories to tell. Perhaps they know a lot about a wide variety of subjects. Alternately, they may be a good listener, which might make for a good conversationalist.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What makes you you?’


In fact, not everyone finds the same things interesting. To me, a person might be quite dull; but to you, they could be fascinating. So really the question could be rephrased as “What makes a person interesting to you?”

Or maybe it is a fact that all people have something to recommend them, and you only need to put in the work to find out how the person interests you specifically.

At any rate, can you identify the traits someone might have that makes them fun to be around? What might a person do or say in order to participate in a meaningful conversation? When you think about the humans you have been fascinated with, do they have something in common? What makes a person interesting?

Related questions: Who are your most interesting friends? What makes a good friend? What makes a good leader? Who are your heroes?

How Can You Change Your Attitude?

There are times when, to overcome an obstacle of some sort, all you need to do is change your attitude. But how can this be done?

Some common emotions, like frustration or anger, don’t actually accomplish much. Typically, they don’t help you to arrive at a solution any sooner. They can even make thinking other thoughts difficult.

A change of attitude is called for. If, instead of anger, you approach a situation with curiosity, better results may occur. Or empathy, or determination, or even no thoughts at all.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you think others see you?’


But this is easier said than done. Negative emotions can be overwhelming. drowning out everything else. They can also be counterproductive, going so far as to sabotage positive, or helpful thoughts.

So what tricks or coping mechanisms have you found to help you change your approach? How can you change your attitude?

Related questions: How can we turn sadness into constructive action? Why do we hate? What is the right amount of emotion? How can we turn ideas into actions?

How Has High School Influenced Your Identity?

Our high school experiences can’t help but influence our life and identity, and that’s true of practically everyone.

The reason is that at the time that we are approaching or in high school, we are in the process of maturing, emotionally, physically, and mentally. We are discovering who we are, what we like and don’t like, what we can or can’t do, and so on.

That it happens to coincide with spending 7+ hours a day in a building together with the same group of peers and teachers means those people and experiences will take on a profound meaning.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What makes you you?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What gives a person value?’


For some people, high school is full of growth and liberation, a time of discovery. For others, it might be a time of persecution. You can discover there are others like you, or that you are alone.

Are there traits or behaviors that you have today that you can trace to an experience you had in high school? How has high school influenced your identity?

Related questions: High school or college? Why do we like what we like? How have you changed? What was the best time in your life? How do you learn?

Thanks to Ingrid Moon for the question.