There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
No action occurs without our first intending it. We initially are motivated to do something, and then we do it. The problem is that if we don’t have the right motivations, we won’t be satisfied with our results.
Let me give you an example. In addition to my being a writer, I also have a “day job.” My motivation in having the day job is to earn money. I need it to pay my bills. I don’t want anything else from the job, other than to be paid.
As a result, the job is highly satisfying to me. I work, and the employer pays me. My motivation for doing the job is satisfied.
But let’s say that my motive for doing the job is to receive praise from my boss. That isn’t necessarily going to happen. Some supervisors praise their staff, and some don’t. So, if my motivation is to get a pat on the back, and it doesn’t happen, suddenly my job won’t be satisfying to me anymore.
The Importance of Good Motivations
Whenever we do anything in life, we need to have correct motives. Otherwise, we end up being unhappy with the results. That is why there are so many miserable people out there who, by all accounts, should be happy. These folks have nice families and great jobs. They live in big houses and have luxury cars. And yet, they still are dissatisfied with life.
That is because their motivations don’t make sense. They buy a big house believing it will make them happy. A big house will not make you happy. It will make you comfortable. They get married thinking that marriage will make them happy. However, getting married won’t make you happy. What marriage provides, if you are lucky, is a partner with whom to share the ups and downs of life.
So, order to be happy in life, we need to do things for the right reasons. Our frustration occurs when we do things for the wrong reasons. Below are some ways to make sure that you have good motivations for everything that you do in life.
Give without Expecting An ROI
Very often, when we give to others, we expect an ROI (a return on our investment). We may expect gratitude. Or we may think that by giving to someone, we can control their behavior (If I do X for you, then you’ll do Y.). The problem is that anytime we give with strings attached, it is a recipe for unhappiness.
For example, I have a friend who paid for his son’s college education. 200K later, his son graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, after all that expense, my friend’s son decided not to use his college degree. Instead, after graduation, the kid got a job which didn’t require more than a GED.
Most parents would have been upset that their child was not using their expensive degree. They would have felt that their child had wasted their money.
However, my friend was not upset. He said that his goal was to give his child a college education. Mission accomplished. His son now has a degree that allows him to make a lot of money – or his son can choose to live paycheck to paycheck. The choice is his.
My friend’s perspective is the right one. When we give, we need to give for the right reasons. And the right way to give is without any expectation of an ROI. My friend gave his child a sizeable gift – a fully-paid-for college education. He did it without strings attached, and he was happy that he did so. He doesn’t feel irritated or resentful. Instead, he feels happy because he met his obligations as a parent. Now his child has all the tools that he needs to be successful and self-sufficient.
When we give with strings attached, we are giving with the wrong motivation. Expecting something in return for your gift is a recipe for frustration. In life, give simply because you want to be good to another person. Period. That is the best motivation possible, and the best way to be a happy giver.
Don’t Expect Others to Be Responsible for Your Happiness
If you get married, have children or make friends with the idea that those people are supposed to make you happy, you will be disappointed. Get married because you want to have a partner in life. Have kids (or adopt) because you feel called to be a parent. Make friends with people whose company you enjoy. But don’t expect any of those people to make you happy.
If your motivation in any relationship is for that person to make you happy, you will drive that person away from you. No one wants to spend their time making you happy. That is your job.
For example, I would never expect my husband to make me happy. That would be a ludicrous idea. The only thing I ask of him is that he gives me the freedom to make myself happy. And he does exactly that! My husband is very self-sufficient. He doesn’t consume my time. He doesn’t bother me. My husband doesn’t ask me to do anything really. He just let’s me live my life. And as a result, I have the freedom to do exactly what I need to be a happy person. And I give him the same freedom.
Neither one of us got married and said, “OK, now it is your job to make me happy.” Instead, we got married because each of us wanted a partner and best friend with whom to go through life. And we found that.
In any relationship, your motivation for the relationship should be to enjoy that person’s company and to be good to that person. We run into problems when our motivation for the relationship is to get the other person to do something for us. That is a recipe for disaster.
Consider the areas of your life in which you are dissatisfied. Think about whether your motivations in those areas are preventing you from being happy. Remember that good motivations lead to great results!
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