My beautiful friend asked me “why do we go up and down in life? I thought she meant weekly or monthly but it turns out that she wanted to know why half an hour ago she was having a positive upper and now she was feeling down, tired and dejected.
My first guess answering her question turned out to be spot on. I thought I’d share it because the simplicity of the answer certainly surprised me.
I suggested ” well, my guess would be that 30 minutes ago you were looking forward to the future, but now you’re not.”
Well, as it turns out, 30 minutes ago she was thinking about something that could happen next year and was keen for it.
But right now, she had something to do in the immediate present that was not positive for her.
By expanding and contracting the future horizon of her thoughts her energy went up and down.
This is interesting. In nature there is a purpose to everything. Therefore, there’s a perpetual long term view, a sense of purpose, that can sustain us through short term unpleasant circumstances. Our ability to fluctuate our focus in terms of our horizon time frame is wonderful but it has serious counterproductive results, emotions we don’t always enjoy.
Tell a child that they can write a list of gifts they want for their birthday and they’ll be energetic. But five minutes after their birthday they can be exhausted because they realise it’s 12 months till their next one. Or even ask them to write a list and then ask them to help clean the room and their energy can fluctuate from excitement to exhaustion in seconds.
We motivate people by continually promising the future. It’s a lie we make to keep exhausted employees and family members engaged in doing what we want them to do. Motivation always works but it requires serious management to keep an individual chasing the rainbow day after day, especially after a few realisations that the promise “if you work hard we’ll pay you more” is a lie.
Inspiration on the other hand is very very different and does fit with nature’s laws. Inspiration means that we do what we do because we have a vision, not someone else vision and we do what we do with energy because we link what we do to our own vision. The clearer that vision the clearer the link. The more balanced that vision the more likely we stay energised. Motivation speaks “If you do this, I’ll give you that.” Inspiration speaks “If i do this, I will get closer to that, that and that.” One is empowered, the other is disempowered. One aligns with nature the other is a fiction.