First things first — let us visualise a commonplace story. You think you are overweight — not obese, of course, because of its awful emotional connotation. You also feel that you are just like a cat on a hot tin roof — whenever you look at yourself in the mirror. You worry that you may not fit into your favourite clothes, be it your trouser, or shirt, or anything else, sooner than later. You are dismayed as to how you look from the side — with your bulging belly “stealing the thunder” from prying eyes. What’s worse, you don’t seem to get what you want as a truthful answer from anyone — lest you get distraught. No one, after all, wants to upset anyone’s protruding “ego”.

What you do, pronto, is you abruptly look at food too seriously, for a change, and sure enough you aim to lose weight. You join a weight loss programme — where you pay a certain, otherwise not-so-healthy, fee through your nose. The big problem, notwithstanding the tall promise, is the thought of food besieges you. You get annoyed, also irritable, at the drop of a thought. You begin to devour self-help books on the subject of weight loss. You think aloud — “Why is this happening to me?” Or, “Why has food taken over other priorities in life?”

It all boils down to just one thing — motivation. Motivation is fundamental to everything that you do. All of us need a good dose of motivation to get started for anything — be it academics, sports, or work. Besides, we all need the farthest boundary of motivation to cease doing it. Else, we could just go on doing the same thing forever — in other words, we may never start doing anything else. When we become too fixated with doing a few things, over and over again, at the expense of what's left of our lives, it leads to imbalance — or, motivation and passion gone awry, in one way, or the other.

This is a simple equation, yet the problem is we are, most of the time, keyed to reflecting as to why other people do what they do. Or, why someone did not acknowledge our greetings in office this morning as they usually do. Or, why a certain friend seems to be always lucky with job-hopping, or getting a better pay-hike than yourself — a hardworking loyalist.  

Our ancient philosophers connected motivation with desire — they also referred to our mental and emotional states, in essence, as motivational. This has nothing to do with self-interest, or expressions other than desire, viz., belief, imagination, or intention. To look at the other end of the spectrum —some philosophers always maintained, or contend, that you don't need mental states for charging, igniting, or explaining rational action. This is a simple premise. When we act for good reasons, each of us is motivated by the good proposition that we believe in, or desire.

There is a definitive Socratic underpinning to such principles of motivation. This is categorised as “'intellectualism.” The central hypothesis of this concept is that the perception of what is good for the individual, in question, is adequate enough to motivate their action. In other words, what motivates what is good is a belief of what is good, or valuable, for that particular individual. The consequence of this philosophy is that it perceives the soul as a fused entity — one that excludes the presence of any desire that is not guided towards what is good. Put simply, it celebrates the idea of motivation as the energy engine that propels us to define, set, and reach our goals.

(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)


Rajgopal Nidamboor