To live well, some philosophies say, you should try to cultivate a satisfied mind. What does that mean, and how might you accomplish it?
There are many reasons why you mind might not be satisfied.
On a personal level, you might want more: more money, more status, more stuff. Ambition can be a good motivator, but it doesn’t produce satisfaction.
You might also look at the world and want more justice. You might see the flaws in our society, or empathize with plight of others that are suffering. That might lead you to attempt to seek positive change. That’s a good thing — but “satisfied” is not the word you would use to describe that.
There are also a host of issues to be worried about, from civil unrest, to artificial intelligence, to climate change, to income inequality, and on and on. Yet another reason why you might not have a satisfied mind.
So what can you do? How might you quell your fears, curb your wants and desires? To calm your thoughts, and bring about a state of being that is less anxiety ridden, and therefore more healthy? And lastly, is there a concern that cultivating a satisfied mind might dissociate you from others?
One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to give yourself a reward. What kind of reward works best for you?
Positive reinforcement is a good way to train your body and mind. When you exhibit a behavior you like, giving yourself a reward sends a positive message. In theory, you will come to associate good behavior with getting a reward.
That might sound a bit clinical, but the truth is we use these positive reinforcements every day. If, for instance, you have a cup of coffee each morning, you probably come to think of morning and coffee going together.
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss a related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss bonus question, ‘Is happiness the most important purpose of life?’
However, finding the right reinforcement to use in any given situation can be tricky. One bad example is to reward an exercise session with a dessert. That might make you look forward to working out so that you can get a sweet treat, but the reward might well be more calories than you burned working out. If the goal is to lose weight, it might well be counter-productive.
What sorts of rewards work best for you? Are their specific ones you use in certain circumstances? Are there “bad” examples you have adopted in the past?
Sometimes we need help in our efforts to exercise. That might mean external (working out with others) or internal (providing a reward for an exercise session) motivation. What motivates you to stay fit?
A good team, whether in sports, business, or family, can be almost magical. What are the properties that make a team great?
When you have a group of people working together to achieve a common goal — in other words, a team — finding the right mix can be tricky.
One thing to consider is to select people with the right skill set. For example, an ideal baseball team would have a shortstop and a third baseman, rather than two third basemen or two shortstops.
Finding a good person to lead and/or motivate the team is very important. The leader sets the tone for the entire group, and needs to have the respect of the individual members.
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Where does authority come from?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’
One aspect that is often overlooked is you need to have the right project for the team to work on. A group that would be good at, say, writing a software program probably will not be so good at marketing or selling a product. Or, to use a sports example, a great basketball team won’t be very good playing hockey.
Can you think of instances in your life when you have been a part of a group that was really in sync and excelled? What were the factors that made your team successful, and can you reproduce them?