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3 Reminders to Help You Enjoy Life Even When Life Is Tough

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3 Reminders to Help You Enjoy Life Even When Life Is Tough

“Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.” ~Bryant McGill

He silently packed his bags. Brushing passed her, he walked out the door and never looked back. Stephanie fell to her knees, shaking uncontrollably as muffled sobs escaped her body. The pain was unbearable.

She had two babies- the oldest five and the youngest three. What was she going to do? She had no job, no experience and no marketable skills.

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Six months passed and still he wouldn’t return her calls. The house was in foreclosure, the car was in danger of being repossessed, and she was down to the last $100 in her savings account. Thoughts of suicide incessantly lingered on the fringes of her thoughts invading them more each day, but she had those two babies.

Then one day the tears dried up. The hurt and devastation morphed into anger and determination.  She would come through this. She would not just survive. She would thrive- for her two babies!

It took seven years. She lost the house and had to live with friends. She worked two full-time jobs, cleaned houses on weekends, and earned an online degree. She struggled, she suffered, she cried, but she kept going- because of her two babies.

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Stephanie became the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a fortune five hundred company and makes well over six figures. She repaired her credit, bought a new home, fully funded her two babies’ college funds, and is preparing to start her own company. She is the hero to her two babies.

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.” ~Andy Rooney

Most of us mistakenly believe that happiness is the absence of heartache and struggle. We desire a life of comfort and ease, void of difficulty. However, the truth of the matter is that happiness–true gratification– is shrouded in struggle and facing challenges gives us the traction needed to move forward and live purpose-driven lives.  A few fundamental changes always accompany personal growth. There are three hard truths about personal growth and development.

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1. Change is a big part of growth.

Stephanie had to change (although the change was forced upon her) to achieve what she did. The experience of being left by her husband and losing almost everything changed who she was. She had to adapt and overcome. Don’t be afraid of change and don’t run from challenges because every challenge is an opportunity for growth.

2. Pressure and struggle are the fertilizers of growth.

Consider bodybuilding as an example. The basic strategy for building muscle is to keep lifting heavier weights. The stress you put on your muscles is what helps them increase in size and strength. The opposite is also true. Avoiding struggle is the quickest way to stunt your personal growth, become stagnant, ensure that you never fully optimize your potential, and doom yourself to a life of mediocrity.

3. You learn more from failure than you do from success.

Failure is the best way to learn and grow. When you fail at something you usually analyze both the situation and your efforts to try to determine what went wrong. Failure makes you think. It makes you assess and it makes you change. Success feels good but it reinforces what you are already doing. It causes little thought, assessment, or change.

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Life’s inherent challenges are what make it possible to thrive. Pain produces progress. Without challenges and the weight of your own personal load there would be nothing to overcome, nothing to achieve, nothing that could bring you happiness. You can’t appreciate the good without experiencing the sting of the bad. Bad is what makes “good” good!

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 19, 2022

What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

If you’ve ever thought or said something like this, then you are using fear-based motivation:

  • “If I don’t get that promotion, I’m going to be seen as a failure so I better stay up all night to work on this proposal.”
  • “If I speak up for school reform, the internet trolls are going to get me, so I better be quiet even though I care a lot about this issue.”
  • “If I don’t exercise enough, I’m going to look like crap, so I better go to the gym six days a week, even if my body is killing me.”

Fear-based motivation is exactly what it sounds like—getting yourself and others to do things out of fear of what will happen if you don’t do it and do it well.

What you might not know is that while fear-based motivation might work in the short term, it can have long-term detrimental effects on your performance, relationships, and well-being.

Is Fear-Based Motivation Helpful?

If using fear as motivation comes naturally for you, you aren’t alone. Our brains use fear to keep us out of trouble. Normally, you want to move away from what feels harmful towards what feels safe.

This brain function is important when there is a genuine threat to your well-being, like if there is a rattlesnake on the hiking trail. Your brain will use fear to motivate you to move away from the snake as quickly as possible. But when you use fear-based motivation to accomplish your life and career goals, the constant state of fear puts unnecessary stress on your mind and body and can end up working against you.

The Darkside of Fear-Based Motivation

Take, for example, when your trainer at your gym motivates you during your workout by yelling things like, “Bikini season is coming! You don’t want your cellulite to be the star of the show!” or “Burn off that piece of birthday cake you ate last night!”

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Sure, you might be motivated to do ten more burpees, but what is going on in the back of your mind? You probably have an image of a group of people standing around you at the beach laughing at you in your bikini, or you feel guilty about eating that piece of cake and criticize yourself for not being able to control yourself.

Reliance on Negative Thinking

For most of us, this type of thinking causes stress and can bring down our energy levels and mood. The reliance on negative thinking is the problem with fear-based motivation. It forces us to put our attention on what is wrong or what could go wrong instead of anticipating and celebrating what is right. This, in turn, narrows our focus and prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.

When your brain senses a threat, whether it’s a rattlesnake hiding in the grass or the possibility of being laughed at in your bikini, your brain will move you into a protective stance. Your vision narrows and you prepare to fight, flee or freeze.

You can probably imagine what this looks like in the case of a rattlesnake, but how does this impact your bikini experience?

The High Cost of Fear-Based Motivation

Imagine that you plan a beach vacation with your friends three months from now. The first thing you picture is sitting on the beach with your tummy rolls and cellulite. You immediately sign up for three months of boot camp classes at the gym and banish all sugar and booze from your diet. You are determined not to make a fool of yourself on the beach!

Will the fear of not looking like a supermodel under the beach umbrella motivate you to get in shape and eat better? Possibly. But at what cost?

For three months, every time you picture yourself looking “less than perfect” in your bikini, you feel fear of being ashamed. Shame makes you want to hide, and that makes it harder to find the motivation to go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

You become so focused on how you are going to look on the beach that you lose out on all the fun and joy of life. You pass up on going shopping with your friends for new outfits because you aren’t at your goal weight yet. You stop doing the things you love to do to spend more time at the gym. You avoid family gatherings where you will be confronted with tempting food. You over-train to the point of hurting yourself.

The Healthier Alternative to Fear-Based Motivation

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in your bikini! If that’s important to you, keep your goal in mind but change the way you motivate yourself. Instead of using the fear of feeling ashamed to motivate you, try using love-based motivation.

Love-based motivation uses love instead of fear to lead and inspire you. It comes from a different part of your brain than fear-based motivation. Love-based motivation comes from the part of your brain that is responsible for joy, creativity, and passion.

5 Questions of Love-Based Motivation

There are many ways to deploy love-based motivation. The trick is to use one or all of the following to motivate you towards your goal: empathy, curiosity, innovation, vision, and heart-centered action.

Here are five questions you can use to motivate yourself using love-based motivation.

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1. What Would You Say to a Friend?

Chances are that you talk to your friends in a much kinder way and with more empathy than you talk to yourself. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “you better starve yourself and hit the gym three times a day to look good in that bikini!” Instead, you would probably say something like, “I’m so excited to go on this vacation with you! I can’t wait to spend time catching up while sipping margaritas on the beach.”

Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend.

2. What Are You Curious About Learning That Might Help You Get to Your Goal?

More often than not, achieving our goals is more about the journey it took us to get there than the goal itself. Curiosity makes journeys more fun. Perhaps you are curious about doing a triathlon but you don’t know how to run. If you spend three months learning to run, you would get into better shape and learn something new.

3. How Can You Get to Your Goal in a Way That Feels Good?

Using the “Yes, And” game is a great way to come up with innovative ideas for working towards your goals. If your first instinct is to go to the gym six days a week but you aren’t jazzed about it, find something that you like about that idea and make it better.

For example, if what you like about going to the gym is that you work up a sweat, what if instead of the gym, you join a dance class where you can learn some new moves to show off on your vacation?

4. What Is Important to You About Your Goal?

When you dig into your goal, chances are that you’ll find a deeper meaning. If your goal is to “look good in a bikini,” ask yourself why that’s important to you.

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For example, “I want to look good in my bikini because I want to have fun on vacation.” Then, ask yourself how much having fun on your vacation depends on how you look in your swimsuit.

5. What Heart-Centered Action Can You Take That Will Help You Reach Your Goal?

Whether your goal remains bikini-focused or changes to ways of having a good time on your vacation, choose an action that you can take that feels like it is coming from a place of love instead of fear.

For example, suggest to your friends that you take scuba diving classes as a group before vacation. It will get you moving and bring your friends together.

Long-Term Happiness and Satisfaction

Fear-based motivation may help you achieve your goals in the short term, but it won’t lead to long-term happiness and satisfaction. Fear isn’t designed to be used for long periods, and you will eventually tire of the fear and give up on your goals. Love, however, is designed for longevity.

Finding your motivation in a place of love will fuel you to reach your goals, whether your goals are about feeling good in a bikini, getting a promotion at work, or speaking up for what you believe in.

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Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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