Finding Positive Motivation (Rejecting the negative)


I’m a sucker for “two kinds of people” jokes. 

  • There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who know math and those who don’t.
  • There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who can extract from incomplete data.
  • There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who don’t.
  • There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that are ok with unresolved endings. 

I’ll spare you any more, I think you have suffered enough. A commonplace binary label people throw at one another is optimism vs pessimism. Is the glass half-full, or half-empty? While I feel the need to disclaim that I don’t believe that people are nearly so simple as to react the exact same in all situations, they do have tendencies. I struggle with viewing the negative side of things.

I find that this negative posture creeps into my motivations for doing many things, including writing. For example, when thinking about exercise and eating right, my thoughts take the form ‘I don’t want to be unhealthy’ rather than ‘I want to be healthy’. The difference is subtle, but real. The former is a fear-based posture and only impacts me as far as I believe and engage in that fear. The latter is goal-oriented, and has the potential to push me to improve myself daily, rather than just avoid an arbitrary negative line in the sand. 

In my writing, I find within myself a disturbing and potentially derailing negative motivation. As is the case for many bi-vocational writers, my day job is just a job. I am exceedingly grateful for it, especially at this moment in history, when more than 16 million people have lost their jobs in the last three weeks due to the cononavirus pandemic, but it is not something I am terribly passionate about. However, just like I won’t exercise if I just fear being too unhealthy, I won’t keep writing if my primary motivation is a fear of the mundane. 

I am passionate about many other things in my life. I love my family, my friends, my faith community. I affirm here and now that I don’t need writing to ‘fulfill me,’ nor could it, ever. 

Every day, I resolve to find my positive motivation for writing. I enjoy it. It brings me pleasure to see characters come to life and stories with meaning come together. I ardently hope that one day others will be touched by my stories, even if they are only entertained. 

What is your positive motivation? What is a negative motivation that you struggle with? Do you believe that the difference between the two approaches is significant and impactful, or of no consequence? Let us know in the comments!

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