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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

13 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough

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13 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough

We’ve all gone through hard times. And we all get through them. However, some get through them better than others. So what is their secret? Most of it has to do with attitude. Here are 13 things to remember when life gets rough:

1. What is, is.

Buddha’s famous saying tells us: “It is your resistance to ‘what is’ that causes your suffering.” Think about that for a minute. It means that our suffering only occurs when we resist how things are. If you can change something, then take action! Change it! But if you can’t change it, then you have two choices: (1) either accept it and let go of the negativity, or (2) make yourself miserable by obsessing over it.

2. It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem.

Many times, we are our own worst enemy. Happiness is really dependent on perspective. If you think something is a problem, then your thoughts and emotions will be negative. But if you think it’s something you can learn from, then suddenly, it’s not a problem anymore.

3. If you want things to change, you need to start with changing yourself.

Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Don’t you know people whose lives are chaotic and stressful? And isn’t that largely because they feel chaotic inside? Yes, it is. We like to think that changing our circumstances will change us. But we have it backwards—we need to change ourselves first before our circumstances will change.

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4. There is no such thing as failure—only learning opportunities.

You should just wipe the word “failure” right out of your vocabulary. All great people who have ever achieved anything have “failed” over and over. In fact, I think it was Thomas Edison who said something like, “I did not fail at inventing the light bulb, I just first found 99 ways that it didn’t work.” Take your so-called “failures” and learn something from them. Learn how to do it better next time.

5. If you don’t get something you want, it just means something better is coming.

That’s hard to believe sometimes, I know. But it’s true. Usually, when you look back at your life, you will be able to see why it was actually a good thing that something didn’t work out. Maybe the job you didn’t get would have made you spend more time away from your family, but the job you did get was more flexible. Just have faith that everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to.

6. Appreciate the present moment.

This moment will never come again. And there is always something precious about every moment. So don’t let it pass you by! Soon it will just be a memory. Even moments that don’t seem happy can be looked upon as something that you might miss someday. As the country song by Trace Adkins says, “You’re gonna miss this…you’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast….you may not know this now, but you’re gonna miss this…”

7. Let go of desire.

Most people live with “attached mind.” What this means is that they attach themselves to a desire, and when they don’t get it, their emotions plummet into negativity. Instead, try to practice “detached mind.” That means that when you want something, you will still be happy whether you get it or not. Your emotions remain happy or neutral.

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8. Understand and be grateful for your fears.

Fear can be a great teacher. And overcoming fears can also make you feel victorious. For example, when I was in college, I feared public speaking (one of the top 3 fears of all humans). So I find it humorous now that not only do I speak in front of a group every day by being a college professor, I also teach public speaking! Overcoming fears just takes practice. Fear is really just an illusion. It’s optional.

9. Allow yourself to experience joy.

Believe it or not, I know way too many people who don’t allow themselves to have fun. And they don’t even know how to be happy. Some people are actually addicted to their problems and the chaos in them so much that they wouldn’t even know who they are without them. So try to allow yourself to be happy! Even if it’s just for a small moment, it’s important to focus on joy, not your hardships.

10. Don’t compare yourself to other people.

But if you do compare yourself, compare yourself with people who have it worse than you. Unemployed? Be grateful that you live in a country that gives unemployment compensation, because most people in the world live on less that $750 a year. So you don’t look like Angelina Jolie? Well, I bet there are more people who don’t than do. And you are probably way better looking than most people. Focus on that.

11. You are not a victim.

You need to get out of your own way. You are only a “victim” of your own thoughts, words and actions. No one “does” something to you. You are the creator of your own experience. Take personal responsibility and realize that you can get out of your hard times. You just need to start with changing your thoughts and actions. Abandon your victim mentality and become victorious. From victim to VICTOR!

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12. Things can—and do—change.

“And this too shall pass” is one of my favorite sayings. When we are stuck in a bad situation, we think that there is no way out. We think nothing will ever change. But guess what? It will! Nothing is permanent except death. So get out of the habit of thinking that things will always be this way. They won’t. But you do need to take some sort of action for things to change. It won’t magically happen all on its own.

13. Anything is possible.

Miracles happen every day. Really—they do. I wish I had enough space to write about all the miraculous things that have happened to people I know—from healing stage 4 cancer naturally to having their soul mate appear out of nowhere. Trust me: it happens all the time. You just need to believe it does. Once you do, you have won the battle.

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

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Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

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Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

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Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

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Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

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So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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