Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Internal vs. External Motivations

I woke up this morning, shuffled out to the coffee pot, cranked up the computer and with a particularly good cup of coffee in my hand, sat down and read Seth Godin's observations on our dependence on external motivations.

He says that the industrial age made use of praise, fear, promotions, etc to motivate workers -- but that the usefulness of this model is slowly falling away.  (when you do great work, you still can't be sure you won't get "downsized" -- which we all know is code for fired!)

External motivations are still a huge factor in weight loss.  Lose a little bit of weight and people are telling you how great you look, asking you how you did it.....  You may say that's not the reason you lose weight -- but it's a nice added benefit, isn't it?

Creating mindfulness isn't like that -- at all.

You won't practice for a week and have someone come up to you and tell you how evolved they think you are.  Weight isn't just going to drop off your frame like magic.  Instead of having motivation handed to you, you're going to have to find the motivation to continue for yourself (which is something we aren't necessarily trained for any more).

So in preparation for the 30 Day Challenge, here are some (non-weight related) motivations to cultivating more mindfulness in your life.

1. More joy. --science and popular culture tells us we steer toward the destination we are focusing on.  (ever heard the story of the kid steering his sled into the tree when his parent told him not to hit the tree?  He was focusing on the tree -- so that is where he headed)  If you are focusing on finding the foods that bring you the most pleasure (and eating less of the ones that don't give you pleasure) -- you will be focusing on what brings you the most joy.  End result:  more joy.

2. Fewer regrets.  Ever wished you could live through a particular moment again because you weren't fully present the first time?  Maybe you would have made different decisions if you could do it over again?  Mindfulness means being present the first time.  There are no do-overs in life.  It is a waste of time wishing for them -- plus, in the time you are looking backward you aren't paying attention to where you are right now...and that's just a recipe for compounding your regrets!

3. Feeling more confident.  Who couldn't use a little boost of confidence --especially that kind that comes from within.  When you don't need to dread the buffet line at your summer wedding, your ability to go home and prepare dinner without having a 30 minute binge before hand -- when you are confident your body is your ALLY on your weight management journey -- life becomes simpler and less stressful.  You can walk a little easier through your day.  Think about that for a minute --wouldn't that feel great?

Mindfulness is an internal process.  No one is going to hand you these compliments -- you are going to be on the look out for them yourself.  But one thing I can tell you for sure -- when you know you can find them consistently, there is nothing sweeter in the world.

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