Motivation/Learned Behavior

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Destructive Thinking

There is a lot of discussion about motivation in the health/wellness community.  This is particularly apparent in the conversations about diet and exercise.  We have been led to believe by popular culture that we must be properly motivated in order to be healthy.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Health is a lifetime commitment.  It is a choice, not a flash in the pan, glittering elusively, available for only a moment.  Success is not dependent on our state of mind.  or circumstances.  It is a conscious decision on our part, to do the right thing.  Agreeably, illness befalls some who have done everything right.  I have no answer for that unless we venture into the spiritual realm, but in almost every case, our health is in our hands.


A study on motivation was undertaken at Valdosta State University in 2011.¹  There was a question of how important motivation is in the role of learning and learned behavior.  The argument of external versus internal motivation was studied.  External being acquisition of positive, pleasant consequences and avoiding negative consequences.  Internal being the desire to feel good, to solve a problem, to acquire balance, to take control of one’s life or to meet an individually selected goal among other internal prompts to problem solve.  At first glance these seem similar, but they’re not.


The external cue of merely acquiring positive consequences is far removed from the desire to take control of our lives.  We can have the external cue to want to look hot in a swimsuit, (acquisition of positive, pleasant circumstances) all we want, but until we make up our minds that we want to take control of our lives, (internal), we will flounder.  Like Nike says, “Just Do It.”  David Yochim says “I’ve never done easy in my life.” and that is so true.  We have to decide what we want and do what it takes to get it.  Excuses to avoid healthy behaviors are not reasons to fail.

So often we wait until we “feel like it”.   We may get motivation by external cues and start that race with vigor.  Sometimes we are successful for a season and then have an overly emotional moment…day…Oh, okay, decade, and we just give up.  This is the problem with depending on “being able” to do it.  We aren’t.  We are programmed to take the easy path of least resistance.  Everything in nature is.  There is nothing in the natural world that voluntarily does the hard thing.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Use Your Mind!

That’s where our mind comes in.  We make a decision and we do the hard things, every day until those hard things are routine. Read about Perseverance here.  One day, we look in the mirror and barely recognize ourselves.  We go to the doctor and he is jealous of our blood work.  We realize that we are passing along what we have learned in the hard times, hoping that maybe, just maybe, others will learn to do what’s hard in order to achieve the ultimate goal, good health. Because we never did easy or depended on motivation, we become the person on the outside that we have always been on the inside.

Get inside your own head.

Do hard.

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