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Published on April 17, 2019

Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better?

Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better?

Do you need thrust to climb the life-ladder?

I feel everyone needs it in a competition-driven world.

That brute force is nothing but motivation!

Do you strive for motivation?

It doesn’t matter you take one big stride to pursue your dream career or a small step towards bowing down to a boring monotony; each move seeks it.[1]

Whether it’s an excelling professional career or a steady personal growth, motivation inspires every dimension. And if it’s missing, the absence can bury anyone down under.

But did you know there are two types of motivation- Positive Motivation and Negative Motivation?

Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation

What Is Positive Motivation?

It’s a reward-based encouragement method.

Do you know what is the driving force of this motivational technique? It’s the imagination of possessions attached to success!

Whether it’s chocolate for scoring good marks or a raise after promotion; positive motivation is the catalyst that keeps the fire burning in your belly.

It could be the visualization of a bonus from the boss or foreseeing a smile on the face of a destitute. Irrespective of whether it’s a dream about a tangible materialistic possession or a zeal to attain an intangible divine feeling; expectation of any form of a reward is the drive of positive motivation.

Want to ride high on it? Just break your realistic goals into short-term targets. Set rewards when you achieve those little milestones.

Be it watching your favorite serial series on Netflix or a long drive with friends; make sure you treat yourself on every small achievement.

An immediate sense of accomplishment provides you the timely boost keeping you hungry and hopeful simultaneously.

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What Is Negative Motivation?

It’s a punishment-based boosting method. Its drive seeps from the fear of failing anything and everything.

It’s the driving force of some students who attend school just to fulfill the mandated attendance requirement. They know promotion to the subsequent class is impossible otherwise.

Unlike positive motivation, it’s a method in which an employee slogs because he’s afraid of his tyrannical boss.

It’s the motivational technique in which not the proud feeling after appreciation by the spectators but the fear of criticism by them motivate you to rehearse well for a stage appearance.

It works best in do or die situations where doing is the only way out. In fact, most of us have one such inspirational push in common:

We need to work hard to earn money which would otherwise deny us even the basic necessities for survival. And this fear keeps us rolling.

So yes, it’s a strong, intense and effective technique enabling you to accept the constant change.[2]

Which Type of Motivation Is Better?

Both positive motivation and negative motivation are opposite sides of a single coin.

When expecting rewards for success is your driving force, you excel on positive motivation. When the fear of punishment for failure is the thrust, you strive for negative motivation.

While the thought of achieving inspires positive motivation; its counterpart is driven by the thought of losing.

On which technique is better; I feel it depends- on the individual notions and the intensity of the situations.

For some people, positive motivation do wonders and in some situations, negative motivation creates magic.

We’ll assess a few practical illustrations to arrive at a conclusion on which type of motivation is better:

  • Suppose your motivational drive for a daily intense workout is you want to flaunt your tight abs in your upcoming beach vacation; you are riding high on positive motivation. And maybe your friend is a gym freak because he has six-pack abs. He fears if he doesn’t work out, he might lose his attractive body. Certainly, he’s is negatively motivated.
  • For some people, a luxurious lifestyle is a drive to work hard (positive motivation). And there is another set of individuals who work hard as they fear if they won’t, they might not afford bread today (negative motivation).

Allow me to relate to a presumption:

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Suppose your boss agrees to promote you if you can make a lot of money in the upcoming project, it’s a reward-based positive motivation.

And assuming he says that he will fire you if you fail in the upcoming project, it’s a punishment-based negative motivation.

So yes… both techniques play a vital role to make you strive, depending on variable situations.

While thinking about rewards and recognition is the demand of a certain situation; the other situation may seek an inclination towards the measures to escape punishments and criticisms. And that’s fine!

Still seeking a winner?

While both together are important; I feel the density of positive motivation should be in excess over its counterpart.

Let’s find out:

You know the level of motivation must always be head-high… right?

But did you ever introspect the intensity of which one?

When the raised level of positive motivation pumps up the energy levels, the elevated level of negative motivation can overburden you.

Let’s recall the scenario most of us have experienced.

As a student, when your parents promise a new bike if you do well in your exams; thinking about possession of a new bike kicks the endurance level.

And when your parents say they’ll cancel your vacation trip if you fail in your exams, the thought of losing on holidays infuses fear.

Now if I ask you which works better, giving an option, you won’t deny it’s the pleasure of achieving a bike and not the pain of losing a vacation which drives you more towards performing well.

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That’s because it is pressure-free, stress-free, and the process is enjoyable. So in most cases, it’s the positive motivation winning!

I am sure you love working under a smiling boss seeking your committed output offering incentives. And nobody likes to work their asses off for a frowning employer demanding efficiency by a threat of job firing.

Case Study: Which Type of Motivation Works Best for Me?

I’d like to share which type of motivation works best for me:

I am passionate about my blogging career. And trust me, it requires an immense level of dedication and energy to keep hanging on a broken branch against the strong flowing wind from the opposite direction.

While the fear of falling down encourages me to hold on, the anticipation of success drives me to climb up. Both are important to me depending upon the situation.

But yes, sometimes the negative motivation is tough to handle.

That apprehension of failure dents the quality of operation. Sometimes, everything seems dark and gloomy. The fear of losing shudders the self-confidence and esteem.

This leads to an observation:

If you have a long-term goal, accelerating only on negative motivation can be accidental. It might break you halfway.

If you have a weak enduring ability, the overdose of negative motivation can be dangerous.

Beware! It can be a gateway to negative emotions like sadness, frustration and of course fear. You may get affected to an extent it demotivates rather than motivating you.

If I ask you what motivates you to get out of your bed:

The excitement or the fear?

You won’t deny it’s the excitement; the reason is simple:

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Excitement is a positive emotion- a byproduct of positive motivation. On the other hand, fear is a negative emotion- an extract of negative motivation.

While excitement always keeps you on the hunt; trust me you cannot sail for too long pedaling your boat out of fear.

Here’s the bottom line:

Today’s fast and busy life is testing patience and self-belief. For that reason, motivation is important for everyone.[3]

On which type to choose, both are integral in their own unique way. It’s you who needs to consciously choose the one you feel can push you to success.

If you are blessed with the luxury to choose, I feel positive motivation is a safer option.

Obviously, if you see a lion far away in a jungle coming closer to you, no matter how drained your body is, you’ll run the fastest you ever ran. And that’s negative motivation working for you as you know what could happen if you stay there waiting for it.

I’m sure thereon, you’ll question yourself before choosing any of the motivation techniques.

Summing It up

The cornerstone of negative motivation is fear and the inception of positive motivation is a joy.

What I feel positive motivation should be the customary go-to method and negative motivation should be the last resort.

So my friend, when you know how to use rewards and punishments in the right way, it will seem as though reaching your goals is an inevitable outcome.

You decide whether you want to be joyfully pumped up or fearfully pushed… Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Ali Yahya via unsplash.com

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Amanpreet Singh

Amanpreet Singh is a soulful blogger by passion and a mindful businessman by profession. From the negatives of depression to the positives of meditation, he loves sharing his experiences from the inner world.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

Cultivating a positive mental attitude starts with a realization — a realization that you’re not the only one who has struggled, who has survived, and who has started over again. You are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness. There is simple wisdom, which can be relied upon, to help.

Find support, but also learn self-care in how you treat yourself which is what positivity is all about. That self talk, that perception, that attitude you choose changes you and changes those around you.

According to New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Better by Jessica Stillman,[1] Stanford researchers studies how the brain was impacted in achievement and learning when one felt or was positive about a subject. The result? Outcomes were much more favorable for that student.

We do well in areas we are positive about. But what if we can choose to be positive about, well, anything? That would change everything.

Positivity is not about just being happy, which is often the misconception. In fact, acknowledging a range of emotions is healthy. Positivity is persistence while using positive thinking strategies. It is sitting with your feelings; it is acceptance of what is; it is holding onto what makes you happy; it is purpose found in pain.

And the reasoning behind choosing to be positive — you get what you give. You receive what you believe.

Here’re 5 steps to cultivate a positive mental attitude. In part, they detail why it’s important to be positive as an understanding assists in the pursuit as much as the adoption of the mindset.

1. Attitude is What We Can Change

There’s a Maya Angelou quote that goes:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When you choose positivity as your attitude, you select an attitude far more destined for resilient behavior than the alternative.

When you have a negative attitude, your brain gives itself permission to develop negative thinking patterns and in turn, difficult and dark emotions. You spend all your days ruminating, or worrying about the same thing over and over again, thinking that will solve it. Doing this will cause you to miss the answers rather than make the most of the moments in front of you.

In actuality, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. It feels counterintuitive, but that means to release your troubled mentality. When you release what is bothering you, you choose a safer attitude. One that helps you to accept your emotions, accept what is happening and accept that you don’t have all the answers. You’re less afraid of that fact.

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Attitude is everything. It’s how we heal ourselves. It’s how we stay positive. It’s how we secure things. It’s how we overcome.

Without a positive attitude, we cannot persevere. Perseverance is the point of positivity.

A positive attitude is how we fuel willpower. Willpower is how we fuel positivity. It goes in a circle. They are interchangeable.

Positivity denotes willpower. You can be standing in a storm and feel completely calm when you use positivity. You stay grounded. You stand firm. You do not fall over. And you know what? Even if you do, you get back up again.

There is a Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki” which means fall seven times, get up eight. This means you do not stop; you keep going. You make it through the hard times to find the good.

A positive attitude is about understanding you have power over your problems. Once you understand that, you can change your attitude. You have to choose positive thinking first in order to reap its benefits. Once you’ve chosen to be positive, you can do anything.

2. Positivity Is Your Unique Power

When you have lost it all, a positive attitude can help you regain it or to regain your strength. It’s the best way to live. It’s the best way to learn from life and love. When you are positive, you have a power that circumstance nor others cannot take from you.

Recognizing the power you have to carry on, to make the best of things, to keep going when everything inside you wants to quit is worth everything.

You can’t always have it all, but you can always have a positive attitude. This in itself helps you stand out, helps you to shine. It’s enough to save yourself (and others potentially) with. That power keeps you grounded and safe.

For example, say you lost someone to a disease. Instead of just thinking about the loss and seeing it as the end, a positive person may decide to contribute to a cause dedicated to that disease. In doing so, the positive person becomes a beacon of hope. They become a voice for something which in turn gives them power over their hardship.

This is how people keep going: Meaning. Meaning creates a power over our emotions, over our loss so that they do not define us.

According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity affects one’s stress levels and overall health.[2] It is that powerful. When you are positive about a situation, you are less stressful and more calm and able to reason better to solve the very problem in front of you.

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Cultivating this power is about realizing a sense of meaning can be derived from all circumstances, even senseless tragedies. People often contribute to something greater than themselves when they are searching for meaning, for purpose, for positivity, for power.

You don’t always have to have a reason for why something happens, but you can use whatever happens for a greater cause. It’s subjective, changing from person to person. That’s why no matter how much you want to derive meaning from an event, there are no outright answers about how to do that.

So, what do you do? Meditate. Listen.

“Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it. Let go of your mind then be mindful. Close your ears and listen.” — Rumi

3. Be Absolutely Present

In life, you have control over your ability to be present in the moment, even if not control over everything. You have the moment.

Positivity is telling yourself that this moment is what matters. You can’t regret the past or see the future. The only way to be positive is to be here. What do you have right in front of you? Suddenly, your life shifts to gratitude.

Gratitude serves us in letting go of what we do not need. Listing what makes us happy is one way to stay present. What do you have right now that you can use? You have the tools to be positive.

Some techniques to getting there are through meditations or mantras. For example, “Nothing bad is happening right now” is an easy one to incorporate. Your past traumas can’t trip you when you ground yourself in the present, and your ability to reason further develops to the point that even if you can’t see the future, you know it will play out like this– with you empowered and in the moment, using all your wisdom and tools and positivity to persevere. That’s all you need.

Focus on the moment. In a blog about Mindfulness, Courtney Ackerman writes that one such exercise is to live in the moment to reduce worrying.[3] Think about the past and future in small, manageable doses. But focus mostly on the present, what is happening right here and now. This will reduce worrying and therefore stress as well as other negative emotions significantly.

This will allow you to be positive.

4. Practice Self-Love

Self-talk is the core of self-love, the core of what positivity is all about. Positive self-talk leads to self-love. And when our own cup is empty, we can pour into another’s. We have to help ourselves first before we can help others.

What we say to ourselves is how we practice positivity or put it into action.

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For example, there’s a children’s book called The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper where the train thinks, “I think I can, I think I can” the whole way through its travels. The result? It could because it told itself that it can.

Such a simple concept for a complex world. And yet, it works.

This is also how self-love works. What you tell yourself is powerful and makes its mark. Here are examples of things you could tell yourself to practice positivity:

  • I am enough.
  • I am worthwhile.
  • I can do this, I just have to hold on.
  • I will make it through this.
  • I am powerful.
  • I am unstoppable.

Here’re more examples for you: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life. Add to this list with your own!

When you write these positive mantras, you start to feel them. If you write “I am positive about this situation” enough times, you will start to feel that positivity seep in.

Loving yourself is not going to be easy nor come overnight. There will be a mess of feelings, regrets, negative self talk and more that you will have to carefully tip toe through to hold your own heart. Your heart needs love, and often, we deny what it needs in pursuit of purposeless pleasures such as external rewards rather than internal motivation for a life well lived. We live for what others think of us, say about us, and sometimes, losing it all or going through hardship can teach us what we really need: ourselves.

Loving yourself needs to come from an authentic place, not a “fake it til you make it” mentality. It needs to be real. It needs to include those flaws and all. That’s all you can do to become positive about yourself. You have to start within and do the work necessary to heal and be healthy.

Take a look at these 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit and try to practice them.

5. Avoid Toxic Positivity (Unhealthy Positivity)

Avoid the white knuckling type of positivity where you don’t acknowledge your struggles or pain (as they also serve you). You don’t just want to tell yourself to move on because that equates to repression.

Emotions are part of positivity. You want to sit with your feelings. You want to acknowledge them, give them a voice. Instead of telling yourself to move on, you let your emotions lead to a breakthrough that helps you cope with the changes of life.

The greatest misconceptions made about being positive is assuming one does not have to feel in order to change. Throwing away hurt, anger, grief, sadness, all those emotions we associate with being “negative” only thwart our growth and power. Positivity is USING these things to better yourself or the world around you because you’re not going to give in to them. They do not become you or your identity.

You don’t have to be the white knuckling soldier you’ve always been. You say your emotions, then follow up with a use or outlet for them. That makes your positivity profound.

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Positivity is not about wearing a mask; it is the opposite of a mask. It is freedom from negative thinking strategies such as jumping to conclusions, black or white thinking, worst case scenario assumptions and more. It’s acknowledging that there may be more strength or ability in you than previously assumed. And it’s worth it to find out.

Toxic positivity may suggest you simply put a smile on and act fine. That’s not real positivity. Healthy positivity is about showing up when you’re tired; loving when you are feeling loss; healing when you want to cling to your hurt. It’s realization that you are worth it, not worth writing off. And you care about the outcome, so you stay to sort it out. You don’t abandon or jump ship. You hold on. That’s healthy positivity.

So that one day you may say to others, “I see you. I feel you. I understand you,” because you have been where they are and got through it. It’s acknowledging the dark as much as the light.

It’s living so others may live; it’s all you need. It’s not an exact formula everyone can replicate, and no one can copy you either. Your story is important. You are meant to be here. You are meant to do well. It will be those thoughts that get you to the finish line. Thriving.

Final Thoughts

In every moment, you’re not going to want to be positive. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But even then, choosing your attitude, recognizing the power of positivity, being absolutely present, practicing self-love and avoiding toxic or unhealthy positivity will better your days and assist through your trials.

Being positive isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to see what is going to happen next. Just around the corner may be the change you need, but you’ll never know if you don’t hold on to find out.

Positivity is about being curious enough to stay for the outcome because you simply believe, hold onto and trust in yourself and some goodness in this world. That’s enough to keep one going, and enough to help them go from surviving to thriving which is where you want to be.

Everyone has low moments. There’s nothing to be ashamed of for that. You can feel negative emotions though without shaming yourself for them by practicing healthy positivity. These steps are how to cultivate a positive mental attitude.

That way you don’t live with regret. You live in the moment. You make the decision how.

You can start at anytime. Positivity can be like a switch of perception. Once you uplift yourself, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And soon, you’ll be onto uplifting others which helps even more.

Positivity is contagious. It spreads like sunlight over the darkness. You can be the source of that sunlight. All you have to do is simple: Believe you can.

Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Court Prather via unsplash.com

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