I believe it is safe to say that everybody struggles through something in their lifetime. Whether it be long term, like an illness, or relatively short, like a homework assignment, it is easy to feel like nothing you do is worth anything. I often ask myself why I bother to try to hard. Will it really matter in the scope of a lifetime? Does what I do right now really have a significant impact of the rest of my life.
The worst thing I can possibly think about when I’m trying to work through struggles in my life is the universe. If I begin to think about the universe, all my motivation evaporates into thin air and I’m left wondering why it all matters. I am so unbelievably small, when compared to the vastness of our galaxy and our universe, that I don’t understand why we need to suffer things that really do not matter.
We are then left with the question of where everybody finds their motivation to push through struggles in life. Many people feel like it is “what we are supposed to do,” but this takes us in a circular argument. I believe that people are motivated by their search for contentment. Contentment can stem from many things. It can stem from the desire to reach for and attain rewards, or the joy of helping other people.
Recently, my English teacher realized that none of us were working diligently on classwork because he wasn’t passing out grades. He decided that in order to motivate us, he had to give us rewards, or consequences, as seen fit. This did indeed motivate people to actually carry out what he had been asking us. Others, however, had already finished the assignments before the possibility of reward or consequence. So what motivated both groups to act?
The group who had already finished the assignments before grades were implemented were motivated by the approval of our teacher. Whether or not there was a letter grade to prove that they had done the work, they wanted our teacher to appreciate them for following instructions. The other group, however, only acted when something negative was going to happen to them. They wanted to avoid this in order to achieve contentment.
Contentment is what should (and does) motivate us as people. While everything we do in life maybe doesn’t “matter” in the span of the universe, it does matter in our lives and in our happiness. Motivation comes from our desire to achieve total and complete happiness.