Fear, pride and love are three of the greatest motivators, but only love leads to happiness. That’s a line I made because I was asked to come up with a quote for motivation. Out of fear of sounding stupid I put some thought into it… I mean out of love for this person I put some thought into it. I figured this line was better than: “If you want to be stupid do nothing. If you want to sound stupid f’n curse a lot; f’n right.” I think I chose the better option. Unfortunately, very few people strive to live life motivated by love because it’s easier to be motivated by fear and pride. Even Christians who are told: “Do everything in love,” (1 Cor 16:14 NIV www.biblegateway.com) often resort to fear and pride. When it comes to fear, the motivation can be a fear of guilt, fear of regret, fear of hurting others, or fear of looking stupid or ugly. At the same time, being motivated by pride can feel natural because we inherently want to feel good things like pleasure and self-worth, but pride tempts us to gain this at the expense of others, which is wrong. Thus, both fear and pride are strong motivators, but they’re exceedingly unhealthy and lead to emptiness and sadness.
People who are motivated by fear and pride are usually people gifted at finding the negative. If you read that line and thought: “Here’s what’s wrong with that claim,” you are likely a good example of a negative thinker. People who are negative will have a sad life (I know this first hand since I used to be very negative). Unfortunately, people with sad lives not only ruin their own lives they end up causing others to feel sadness as well because their negativity, which is often shown through criticism, brings those around them down. For instance, the May issue of Reader’s Digest featured Justin Trudeau with a piece entitled “Justin: The Second Coming of Trudeau”. June’s magazine shared several responses to this pretty politically neutral article. One response stated: “I’ve been a reader of your magazine since the early 1980s, but that ended today. No self-respecting Westerner would ever read anything that featured the worst prime minister in Canadian history’s son on the cover.” Wow that’s a pretty harsh and exaggerated opinion: “the worst prime minister,” and you’re going to stop reading a magazine that you’ve been reading for over 30 years because of one article? I’m smelling an empty threat or crazy; the two are hard to distinguish. The second response was written in anger because the implies a comparison of Justin to Jesus with the “Second Coming.” Really? I’m pretty sure Jesus can handle that. He handled (according to my belief) being nailed to a cross and dying. This, in comparison, is not so bad. Thanks for giving non-Christians a reason to find us Christians uptight and judgmental. Why are people so critical and negative? Because they’re motivated by fear and pride. Why can’t we simply learn to laugh and accept each other? For the record, my own anger right now is out of love. I’m sensitive to this because I strive to show love and care to others, but I’m continually being met with criticism and people ready to shoot me down. It’s frustrating and hurtful.
To be emotionally healthy we’re told to stop focusing on the one negative comment we hear when we’re given a handful of positives, but not only is this difficult, it is reinforced in our society where it seems that if one person has a problem with something it has to stop. I keep finding one person ruins it for everyone – whatever “it” is. When will we stop letting one person have so much power? Why do we have to suffer because of one moron? Whatever happened to utilitarianism and the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Today our society seems to live in fear of criticism: what if someone is offended? What if someone complains? Our society seems to live by the belief of who cares how bland something is as long as there are no complaints. I’m fed up of this walking on eggshell lifestyle and the criticism I face because I care about people. It’s time we started to live for what’s right and not what’s criticism-avoidant friendly. It’s time we used words that aren’t PC, played lawn darts (remember those? So a few people got impaled; let evolution play it’s course… okay maybe that’s a bit extreme), and stopped being so obsessed with what will people think? It’s time the adult generations started to be more like teenagers: “You can’t tell me what to do.”
Fortunately, there are people who are living lives that aren’t driven by fear and pride, but rather love. For instance, Leonardo Dicaprio lives contrary to the status quo of the rich and famous by investing a lot of his time and $200-milllion fortune into charity work. Instead of private jets and fancy boats, he avoids anything that would require needing staff to maintain. Thus, after finding fame very unsatisfying he decided to strive to live a life motivated by love.
In his book Open, Andre Agassi claims that despite being in a partial slump in his own world of tennis, playing for the love of his country and supporters helped him win the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He shares how playing for yourself is limited, but when you’re playing for a higher purpose it encourages focus, drive and perseverance. Later in his career – a career that lasted longer than most – he continued playing as a way to raise awareness and money for the school he opened to help the poor (this school came after he started a foundation that clothed over 3000 inner city young people on an annual basis, made a college scholarship fund, and a youth center for over 600 young people). Despite fighting a desire to quit tennis his entire life because he claims to have hated it (this is a fact many people still struggle to accept since he is one of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen), he continued playing longer than most, even with a crippled body, because he ended up playing for love. He found part way through his career how empty it ultimately is to win for the sake of winning. What made life great were a few moments where he helped someone in a big way. Thus, he decided to strive to live a life motivated by love because it gave his life meaning.
This week may you further see, or start to see, the difference of being motivated by love rather than fear or pride. This is a big issue to which this tiny article doesn’t give full justice, but I hope it will lead to further self investigation because our world needs more loving people who are quicker to encourage rather than complain… I need people who are quicker to encourage than complain.
By Rev. Chad David, www.emotionalsex.ca